DOZENS of jobless youngsters will be given the chance to train as baristas at the UK’s first Costa Academy in Southampton .

The academy, above the Costa coffee shop in High Street, will target youngsters not in employment, education or training across the south by creating a host of apprenticeship and training opportunities.

Set up by Southampton-based Costa franchisee Premier Coffee Ltd, which has 25 Costa shops, the academy will offer a vocational course resulting in a hospitality and catering level 2 barista qualification.

It is hoped around 50 youngsters will have apprenticeships each year under the scheme, a joint project with the Junior Chamber Internat-ional (JCI) Southampton set up with £20,000 from Costa and a £9,000 lottery grant won by JCI Southampton.

It comes as the Daily Echo’s Give Me a Chance campaign is aiming to helping out-of-work young people beat the slump and find work.

Premier’s learning and development consultant Michael Steel said: “For the past three years, offering apprenticeships to young people in the community has been a fantastic way to grow our workforce and develop their skills.

“The academy will enable us to support disadvantaged young people in a theory and practical way as well as enhancing our existing staff’s skills. It will give development opportunities to young people currently not available anywhere else in the UK.”

It comes as latest figures show the number of youths aged 18 to 24 on the dole queue more than doubled in Southampton last year.

The Southampton academy, opened by South-ampton Test MP Alan Whitehead and mayor Councillor Derek Burke, will comprise a practical room with coffee machines for barista training and a theory room for paper-based training and exams .

The theory room will also be available for other organisations to hire.