In the wake of recent youth unemployment figures, EY has announced that it will double the number of work placements it offers to year 12 students from some of the UK’s most underprivileged areas in 2014 to 100.

The placements will be offered as part of EY’s Smart Futures programme, which launched in 2012, a ten-month initiative that sees ambitious students receive coaching, mentoring and a three-week paid work experience.

Currently operating in London, Smart Futures is about to embark on a national roll-out, extending to other major cities in the UK in the next 12 months.

30% of Smart Futures participants in 2014 are expected to secure a job at EY, either directly from school or via EY’s graduate programme.

‘Smart Futures provides a real bridge between school and employment,’ said Martin Cook, Managing Partner Commercial, UK & Ireland at EY.

‘The programme acts as a boost of confidence for young people, grows their business and commercial awareness and offers an insight into the professional services industry.’

Successful applicants to the programme will attend sessions on a range of topics, from presentation and leadership skills, to team building and brainstorming. They will also be provided with a Smart Futures coach, who will continue to offer support and guidance throughout their A Levels, and will be invited to a series of additional networking and coaching events over the course of year 13.’

Chris Achiampong, a Smart Futures alumni and recruit to EY’s school leaver programme said: ‘Smart Futures broadened my horizons in thinking about my career – it was great; you don’t just sit at a desk!’

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