Demotivated teenagers are being offered free iPods in an attempt to interest them in taking the first steps to the world of work.

The Step Up For Summer course at Bournemouth and Poole College in Dorset is offering the music players to students, causing critics to condemn the scheme as "bribery".

Unemployed kids who take part in the scheme also get a princely £50 per week (a slightly increased benefit) in exchange for working one day each week.

They also receive £100 in cash when they successfully complete the course and an additional £100 should they choose to enrol on another full-time course after the scheme. They also benefit from free lunch vouchers and free travel if they live more than three miles away.

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education told The Scotsman: "The course organisers must feel youngsters don’t really want to go, otherwise they wouldn’t feel it was necessary to offer them iPods."

Seaton also exercised the argument that students - who may be being sent on the courses as part of their conditions to receive benefit - should "value the courses enough to attend of their own free will".

The college counters that the course is specifically aimed at the 700 teenagers who are not in education, employment or training in the area, who it characterises as: "Not the sort of student who would come in to do a course anyway".

The college told the BBC: "They don't perceive themselves as wanting to engage in learning or training so I see it as an incentive to get them back in to learning."

The news emerges as the Department of Further Education and Skills explores new ways to encourage young people to participate in education and training.