AF Blakemore has launched the Blakemore Branching Out programme to make young people more employable.

The community scheme is intended to “inspire, engage and motivate” young people into the world of work.

The wholesale, retail and distribution business said it would work with schools across its trading area “to offer a more strategic approach to employability”, which would include reading support, workplace insights, employability workshops, career support and work experience.

The Blakemore Branching Out programme hopes to deliver 1,200 events by 2020, inspiring 13,500 young people into work and recruiting 50 people into its own business as a result of the scheme.

About 60% of young people are thought to leave school without the necessary skills to enter the world of work. The City and Guilds Group believes that there will be a shortage of 40,000 skilled jobs within the UK, by 2020.

Liz Bell, community affairs officer, said the group had spent many years working with schools and believed Branching Out would bridge the gap between education and employment.

“Branching Out is going to allow young people to grow and flourish. The young people of today will be our leaders of tomorrow, and it is our job to inspire them to work for our business.

“Inspiring young people to work and to want to work for AF Blakemore is just the start of Branching Out. We will look at the way we recruit and grow young people when they are in the business,” she said.