David Cameron today unveiled pilot plans for a National Citizen Service designed to teach 16-year-old school leavers social responsibility as part of the prime minister's "big society".
The government-backed pilots, planned for next summer, will provide around 10,000 places, and are expected to pave the way for a wider rollout.
Cameron said the scheme would encourage people from different social backgrounds to mix, and would help address the "tragic waste of potential in this country".
NCS is a key part of the "big society" agenda set out by the prime minister earlier this week in Liverpool, and will involve activities designed to introduce young people to the concept of civic responsibility as they make the transition into adulthood.
Partners from the youth sector are to be invited next month to submit bids to provide individual projects.
But the Cabinet Office admitted it was unclear how much money would be allocated to the pilot schemes until the outcome of the autumn spending review, when the government will review budgets to try to reduce the structural deficit.