Duncan Bannatyne has given his backing to a national children's charity project to raise the aspirations of vulnerable young people to help them get jobs at a time when youth unemployment is at an all time high.

Action for Children’s (AfC) Step Ahead scheme will offer high quality work experience opportunities and vital skills training to help increase the employability of the young people it supports and prepare them for the world of work.

Dragons’ Den star Duncan said: “Initiatives such as Step Ahead are vital in helping young people get a job.

“Times are tough for young people at the minute so programmes such as this will help them get that crucial first foot in the door.”

The Office for National Statistics Labour market statistics for the period from June to August this year showed unemployment for those between the ages of 16 and 24 stood at 946,000.

AfC is concerned that the most vulnerable in society, such as care leavers or disabled teenagers, are going to be hit the hardest. Step Ahead offers these young people a lifeline, through access to workshops to help develop skills such as good communication, working with others and advice on perfecting a CV and developing good interview technique. Emotional and practical support underpins the programme, a vital resource that vulnerable youngsters don’t have but need to enter employment.