Business people from companies in Devizes are to offer advice to teenagers to help them decide on what to do after leaving school.

The partnership with Devizes School sixth form involves more than 35 firms offering staff to be mentors to selected pupils.

The scheme was officially launched last week, following a successful pilot 18 months ago, with Devizes Area Board and Devizes School each contributing £2,500 to the project.

The aim was to have at least 20 businesses take part, but the response exceeded expectations. Some companies are providing several members of staff.

Margaret Bryant, who is running the scheme on behalf of Devizes School, said: “I’m hugely pleased with the support the business community are giving us. The response has been much better than I hoped for and the students are so excited.

“The students were delighted to have the opportunity to socialise and network when they met their mentors for the first time and the businesses were extremely generous with the support they are willing to give.”

The scheme has students spending an hour with their mentor for four sessions, but some companies may decide to continue the contact.

The business people will give advice on whatever route the students are thinking of taking: college, university, apprenticeship or work.

DS Smith Packaging is one of the 2014 participants and took part in the pilot project.

Managing director Steve Hinton said: “We mentored a 16-year-old girl and I believed we helped her get into employment. She was extremely nervous when she first came in and enjoyed the process. She got herself on to the employment ladder. I think the students gain a lot from it.”

Chloe Ashpole, human resources advisor at the Aster housing company, said: “We think it’s really beneficial to be working with young people in the community, not only from the point of view that we have opportunities as we are currently running an apprenticeship scheme but also it’s about supporting them. The sessions will be to discuss their aspirations and goals and give them support with interview skills, their CV and talking about what their career path could be and what they need to do.

“I think it’s a great scheme. When I was at school we did not have businesses coming into school and connecting with us and telling us what the real world was like.”