A young apprentice Is urging companies across the country to consider offering apprenticeships and to realise the positives the positions can have for both the young person and the company itself.

Michael Woolston, 18, made the plea to company bosses across a wide variety of sectors at the official launch of the Hartlepool Youth Investment Project (HYIP), which is working to lower the high level of unemployment among young people in the town.

The programme – which has been running for around a year - also aims to offer improved job prospects for young people in the local area. It hopes to find employment for 150 16 to 24-year-olds, as well as helping to get 500 16-18-year-olds into internships with local companies.

Michael urged companies to "give the young people of Hartlepool a chance,” rather than “condemning them to a life on the dole,” reported the Hartlepool Mail. He was offered a two-year placement with a local business in November last year, after he impressed the landscape company’s boss during a two-week trial period.

He told the newspaper that he had struggled at school – even being expelled from two schools – and was confident that his apprenticeship would allow him to carve out a promising and successful career for himself, with good future prospects. He said that many of his peers who had not had the opportunity to become an apprentice at a local firm unfortunately remained jobless.

Michael said: “I was absolutely buzzing to have been given this chance. I really struggled at school, I couldn’t deal with sitting in classrooms…I thought the chances of me getting a job were slim to none. I thought I would have had a life on the dole, but I didn’t want that. When I got this apprenticeship I was absolutely buzzing. I turn up every day, I work my hardest and have good time-keeping.

“I just feel sorry for the young people who are out there looking for jobs, there’s nothing there for them. I think apprenticeships are a great idea. It’s cheaper for the employer and gives the likes of us the chance to prove ourselves. I think more firms should give us a chance,” he added.

The HYIP programme’s launch was held at Hartlepool’s Maritime experience and was attended by representatives of Hartlepool Borough Council, as well as local company leaders, local educational institutions and civic leaders.