IN an empty classroom deep within Govan High School, you come across something you don't really expect to see - a mock-up of a home. There’s a strong smell of paint, too.

It may be just the bare bones of a house, but it's where pupils are gaining valuable, pre-apprenticeship experience towards a possible career.

The six-room mock-up allows pupils to learn how to paint and decorate. A next-door room allows them to be steeped in plumbing skills.

The project is the result of a link-up between the school and locally-based company Morris & Spottiswood.

The company specialises in fit-out, housing, maintenance and mechanical and engineering services, and it - like the school - is delighted with the success of the pre-apprenticeship programme at the school. Students who complete the course earn an SQA national qualification.

Morris & Spottiswood have also given the school access to work-experience placements as well as the services of its HR department, so that pupils can sharpen their interview skills.

The working partnership is believed to be the only one of its kind in the city.

The company says it was prompted into action by Scotland's youth unemployment figures. Statistics released in March by the Office for National Statistics said the level had increased by 15,000 over the year to reach its highest November-to-January level since 2009.

A company spokesman said the fact that its headquarters were close to the school in Ardnish Street, Govan, makes the success of the scheme "close to the heart and mind" of George Morris, the company's executive chairman, and the third generation of his family to run the business.

He added: "Out of the initial intake of seven students, six gained employment or further education in the 2014/15 academic year, with the seventh staying on at school.

"This has now grown to 17 students in second year 2015/16. "This industry-led apprenticeship programme is providing the young generation in Govan with the skills and qualifications they require to build a career.

"There have been lots of other positive outcomes as well.

"Pupils in lower years already want to sign up to the scheme. There's a general air of optimism, which is improving academic performance across the school. Literary and numeracy skills are part of the programme, and other school departments are now using the facility. The scheme also fits in perfectly with the Curriculum for Excellence objectives."

Mr Morris added: "There is a critical shortage of experienced tradespeople and managers in the building industry.

"This can be attributed to many causes. What we hope is that this project will demonstrate is that it will only be solved by all stakeholders getting involved and working together.

"That's what makes this so exciting. With a bit of effort on all sides we can make a difference."

Several pupils at Govan High who are involved in the scheme have given it their enthusiastic approval.

Robert Brown said: "The course has given me experience on how a building site works", while Scott Somerville said: "The course is like the real world of construction - and not just another class."

In the words of Alan Porteous, the programme "gave me a good insight of what work is like in the construction industry."

Zohaib Zulfiqar declared: "This course really helped me prepare for work especially through work experience and preparing for interviews," and Darren Richmond added: "I feel much better about leaving school and finding an apprenticeship in plumbing having been on the course. It is really about knowing yourself, being confident as I can now talk from experience "

Andrew Masterson, deputy head teacher, said: "The Pre-Apprenticeship course, although based around construction, is about developing young people and getting them ready for the world of work in whatever field they may be considering applying for an apprenticeship. It's all about Skills for Work, Life and Learning.

"It is a unique approach where working in partnership with local companies means we can provide experiences that otherwise would not be possible. We now see young people who are enthusiastic about their working life, are better prepared and much more confident about their own ability and experience."

Mr Masterson made clear that the project was open to every pupil in the school whatever their background or academic ability, "as in the construction industry there are opportunities from graduate level through to manual handling.

"It also highlights to our young people that the construction industry is not just about building. There is also an army of people who support it by providing such services as logistics, administration, accounting, health and safety, and human resources, to name but a few.

"The building of the new Queen Elizabeth University hospital on our doorstep demonstrated this well for our young people. They visited it on a regular basis from the cutting of the first sod."

As it happens, the man responsible for the hospital building was Alistair Fernie, a former pupil at the school.

He was an "excellent role model" for the pupils, and provided tremendous encouragement.

The project manager, Peter Crawford, praised Morris & Spottiswood for its efforts and also singled out Luddon Construction, Doig & Smith and Johnstone Paints for their contributions.

Govan Housing Association has devised projects that allow pupils to work alongside its workforce. The teenagers were developing their skills but were also doing real work in the form of decorating flats for local deserving individuals and families.

Mr Crawford added: "These partnerships are proof that, together, Govan High school and local business can work together improving opportunities, choices and chances for our young people and at the same time providing the future workforce for local companies and of course improving the community of Govan and bring a pride back into the area."