The Pub & Bar Careers Perceptions programme, first announced at the end of last year, was officially launched in London last week - since then more than 400 work experience placements have been pledged by industry operators.
The scheme is the brainchild of a group of pub executives, including the team behind the Yummy Pub Company, who have seen the benefits of giving work placements to young people who have already been on a thorough pre-employment training scheme.
Billy is one example - he told an audience of more than 40 pub and bar operators gathered at the launch that he had been surprised and delighted to be offered a job after two weeks work experience at the Somers Town Coffee House run by Yummy.
Speaking to BigHospitality, he said a career in hospitality had not been what he had planned but was now what was driving his future ambitions.
"I didn't think hospitality would really be as interesting as it has been," he admitted. "I thought it was just a lot of carrying food around.
"I didn't realise that there were so many different parts to it - logistics and admin. I could see myself possibly running my own venue one day, that would be really exciting," he said.
As part of the initiative, selected unemployed young people will be put on a 60-hour, certified pre-employment training programme ahead of a two-week work experience placement. After that they will hopefully secure employment with the operator or elsewhere in the industry.
The Hospitality Guild will be coordinating the project, sourcing candidates and funding the training as well as managing a database of the people who take part. This will give employers somewhere to look for staff who they know are dedicated to the industry and fully-trained.
The scheme might also generate financial benefits for operators.
A spokesperson for Jobcentre Plus told the launch that a wage incentive was available to employers giving full-time jobs to young people who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks - financial support which many employers do not take advantage of despite being eligible.
Anthony Pender, vice-chairman of the Perceptions group and managing director of The Yummy Pub Company, told BigHospitality he was optimistic the initiative would change perceptions of employment in the industry.
"The uptake from people like Billy has been fantastic - what a story. Why wouldn't it work? He is already an advocate for what our industry can give people and what opportunities and jobs it has.
"If we can carry on finding people like Billy, not only are we finding great employees, we are going to find great ambassadors as well," he said.