An exciting initiative - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - has been launched at Belfast Metropolitan College.
The UK Career Academy aims to link students with the knowledge and skills required for the world of work.
Piloted in England in 2002, it helps aspiring students to access career opportunities within the business sector. Supporting a network of employers, schools and colleges across the UK, and now in Northern Ireland, the UK Career Academy is raising the aspirations of 16 to 19 year olds.
To date, over 1,100 young people across the UK have benefited from the academy.
Attending the launch of the programme at Belfast Metropolitan College, deputy secretary for the Department for Employment and Learning Catherine Bell stressed the importance of such initiatives. She said: "The introduction of this UK Career Academy will further strengthen the successful partnerships with businesses which are becoming the norm throughout the FE sector."
Brian Turtle, director of the college, said: "The close support of major financial services business will mean that the cohort of A-Level learners will be motivated to succeed in their course through business mentors, paid employment placements and the development of professional and technical skills relevant to the financial sector.
"This allows the college to provide an enhanced service both to our learners and this sector which is so important to the future of the NI economy."
Students on the programme will undertake a curriculum equivalent to three A-Levels and which are closely related to the world of work.
In addition, business partners provide paid work internships as well as guru lectures and business mentoring from some of the most prominent and successful businesses in the sector.
It allows students to link what they learn with the practical experience needed to get ahead in business. The scheme is also meeting the needs of the wider Northern Ireland economy providing a pool of talented young people ready to enter the world of work.