A group of students are swapping their summer holidays for a work experience programme with apprenticeships up for grabs at the end.
Kick-start is a five-week course run by Rushden-based Spire Homes which will see 12 students from the area aged 16 to 18 taking part.
Each student will shadow three national contractors who Spire Homes work with - Aaron Services, Burleys and Keepmoat - as well as receive professional training and workshops on employment skills.
On completion, each contractor will invite the 12 to apply for an apprenticeship with them to start full-time this September.
It comes as the House of Commons reported last year that the number of younger people taking up apprenticeships had dropped significantly, with just 25 per cent of apprentices in 2014-15 aged 19 or under compared to 42 per cent in 2009-10.
Sharon Boot, resident and community involvement officer at Spire Homes, said: “With so many young people still struggling to find opportunities when they leave school, we decided we wanted to do something to help.
“Kick-Start isn’t just about finding a job, it also focuses on career development and finding something that you really enjoy doing.”
While youth unemployment rates in Northamptonshire are improving, more than 1,100 young people were recorded as not in education, employment or training last year.
According to the Department for Education, that accounts for 4.6 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds living in the county.
Ms Boot added: “Apprenticeships are proving to be a really effective way of securing long-term employment prospects as, according to the Skills Funding Agency, 90 per cent of apprentices stay in employment after they complete their training.
“Although we’re only able to offer a limited number of apprenticeships, the skills we focus on during the course will be really useful when applying for any job in the future.”
Keepmoat community liaison manager Julie Baker said: “At Keepmoat, it’s not just about bricks and mortar.
“We recognise that it is hugely important to support local people and encourage employment in the construction industry.
“We hope that the Kick-start students will enjoy their time with us and be encouraged to consider an apprenticeship, which we are proud to offer in partnership with Spire Homes.”
The students will also be giving something back to the community as the programme will cumulate in a community refurbishment at a recently converted community centre in Higham Ferrers.
For more information about Spire Homes, which is a member of the Longhurst Group and has more than 5,000 properties throughout Northamptonshire, Rutland and Leicestershire, click here