THE careers of two youngsters have been given a kick-start, thanks to two Brentwood-based property companies.
Lee Scott, who has worked for estate agents Keith Ashton in St Thomas Road since October last year, has already been told a job is waiting for him at the end of his 12-month apprenticeship.
And although Sinead Berenger, 16, only started her training in business administration with Business Mortgage last week, she is already keen to work her way up in management.
The pair are the beneficiaries of a Government apprenticeship scheme which provides employers with extra staff members while giving youngsters a solid grounding in the workplace.
Mark Reeve, the owner of both Keith Ashton and Business Mortgage, said: "It gives us a great opportunity to support young people.
"The young apprentices are not just tea-boys – they are a proper member of staff. There is a huge learning curve.
"We are really happy with Lee.
"After just a few days he was out showing people houses.
"It was clear right from the beginning that he was very confident and very capable.
"He's done well and he knows that we'll be offering him a job."
Mr Reeve added: "Either way, the people who have trained with us will be able walk into any estate agents anywhere.
"We just wanted to see what we could to do help young people and their employment prospects.This is a good way to give them better opportunities without having to throw lots of money at them."
The apprentices, who are both from Chelmsford, have been paid from the first day of their apprenticeship.
The minimum wage for an apprentice is £2.65 per hour and applies to workers aged between 16 and 18. The company is effectively offered a member of staff for about £6,000 a year but with the Government contributing £1,500, the business' employment costs can be reduced by around 25 per cent.
Lee said: "It's been great.
"I've learnt so much.
"The money is not a problem because I live at home at the moment anyway and I've got no overheads except for my mobile phone.
"It's worked out really well and I'm enjoying it."
He added: "The only thing I'm not doing is valuing property, but that will come later."
The apprenticeship schemes were organised by Basildon-based Life Skills, which matched up Lee and Sinead with their new trainers.
Each receive around four hours of one-to-one training with a mentor and at the end of it the pair can leave with the equivalent of an NVQ Level 2 qualification.