A MILION pounds is to be spent on a "fantastic and unique" scheme to get young people into work.
Hyndburn Council and Accrington and Rossendale College have joined together to spend the Government cash on a new modern apprentice scheme.
The project will be officially launched in April and bosses hope that 75 youngsters will be found a job in the first year.
Announcing the scheme exclusively to the Observer this week, council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "Other councils have had the money but we are the only one doing anything like this.
"It is important that we send out a message to young people to encourage them into work rather than be part of the unemployment culture that can blight their lives.
"I have known very bright kids who spend years on the dole or are even found dead from drug overdoses and we have to break that pattern.
"I am determined that this council will set an example."
The scheme is being backed by the Learning and Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus, while major public sector firms such as the Primary Care Trust, Elevate, Groundwork and the police and fire services have agreed to take apprentices.
College principal Stephen Carlisle said the scheme was "the biggest news for years" and added: "It’s different, it’s unique and it addresses a real need.
"With such high-profile backers, it almost sells itself."
The scheme, which will run over three years, will cover a wide range of jobs and will be open to all, rather than just creaming off the top students.
Their wages will be paid jointly by the council and the employer, or in some cases entirely by the council.
The apprentices will typically do four days a week in the workplace and one at college, and the scheme will be monitored by the council to prevent any abuses.
It might later be extended to older people such as the long-term unemployed or people in dead end jobs.
Councillor Britcliffe added: "I am delighted that the council and college are working together on such a fantastic and unique scheme.’’