EFFORTS to tackle high levels of youth unemployment are to be boosted by the launch of a new environmental apprenticeship scheme.

Hartlepool Borough Council is working on the 12-month project in partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education and Job Centre Plus to find 15 people, aged 18 and unemployed for 26 weeks, to be recruited to work within the authority’s street cleansing and environmental teams.

Their training will include an NVQ level 2 in cleaning and environmental services.

The town has the third highest youth unemployment rate in the country and the latest scheme follows on from the success of a similar project between the Council and Nordic Pioneer, a North East-based national training provider and graffiti removal business, which recently saw 13 unemployed people aged 18-24 complete a 26-week apprenticeship programme.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “In the current economic climate it can be really difficult to find work placements for young people with local employers.

“I am pleased that the joint initiative with Nordic Pioneer proved so successful, and I look forward to this latest scheme having a similar impact. I think it is a fantastic project.”

Job Centre Plus will be the main referral agency and young people referred to the scheme will be first asked to complete a voluntary two-week assessment.