Almost 3,000 young people across South Yorkshire have taken unpaid work experience placements with major firms in the past year as part of a Government drive to find them full-time work.
A total of 2,944 people took work experience placements between April 2014 and March 2015 with companies such as Debenhams and Whitbread, who own chains like Premier Inn and Costa Coffee.
The placements last between two and eight weeks and Jobcentre bosses said around 60 per cent of those who take part in the placements have gone on to find full-time work - either with the company that took them on or another firm.
Nigel Coleman, a manager at the Cavendish Court job centre in Sheffield, said those who take part in the work experience continue to have their benefits paid while in the placement.
He said it was not the case that the unpaid placements are taking away the prospect of paid jobs from others.
Mr Coleman said the scheme, which was been running in South Yorkshire for several years and is chiefly aimed at out-of-work 18 to 24-year-olds, is a chance for people who may not have otherwise been offered a job to improve their CVs.
He said: “What the firms are doing is for the benefit of the individual, they are not doing it for money-making. The whole point is they offer somebody that wouldn’t have been offered a job the chance to prove themselves. Those taking part are going to get a good-quality reference at the very least.”
New Government figures showed a 19 per cent cut in people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Sheffield over the past year, with 9,815 now requiring the benefit. There was a 29 per cent drop in 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, down by 933 people to a current total of 2,277.