MORE than 4,200 young people from across the Tees Valley have applied for financial aid to boost their career prospects, according to figures released today.

The area's Learning and Skills Council said it was delighted with the take-up during the past four years of the education maintenance allowance - a weekly payment for young people who stay in further education.

It follows a number of small pilot schemes across the Tees Valley and an ongoing campaign to encourage school leavers to consider a variety of post-16 education options.

The scheme is available to youngsters who meet certain criteria and live in households with an income below £30,000. Young people may also receive bonuses of £100 if they remain on their course and make progress.

The Learning and Skills Council believes the figures will be boosted further over the coming weeks as more people who recently started courses complete their applications.

Among those to benefit from the weekly payment, of up to £30, was 19-year-old Ricki Kendall, from Linthorpe, Middlesbrough.

He received the support during a two-year engineering course at Redcar and Cleveland College.

He has now secured sponsorship on an advanced apprenticeship in electrical installation with Middlesbrough Borough Council.

Ricki said: "The education maintenance allowance has helped me by putting money in my pocket making me feel like I was working towards getting paid as well as earning my qualifications."