A flagship Birmingham education policy which was under threat with weeks to go to the start of school term has been saved by a trio of city firms.
The Birmingham Baccalaureate, a course designed to give youngsters the skills demanded by a 21st century economy, was a key part of the city council's manifesto but hung in the balance with no support deal agreed with just weeks to go before the schools went back.
However, three city firms - Hays Recruitment, Midland Heart and Birmingham Airport - have stepped in with financial aid, which means the programme will now continue.
Seven schools will begin key stage four courses from September, fewer than hoped.
But programme director Jane Harris said she wanted double that number of schools on board by January.
She said: "There was a time where we were quite concerned and desperately hoping that the funding would be found.
"We knew it was a good product and schools liked it, and now we can get to the next stage."
She added: "The support that we have had from businesses has enabled us to go forward.
"They have seen it working and wanted to back us. Hays have given support through interview workshops, saw it was working and wanted it to continue. At Midland Heart they see the result of young people not having the skills they need. For them, part of it is fixing the problem before it happens."
The baccalaureate, or BBacc, is a key part of the city's plans to prepare more youngsters with the demands of the modern workplace.
A pilot was held last year and saw 10 schools start and seven complete the BBacc – all of which are set to begin in earnest from September.
It was under threat after the company asked the council for funding of £55,000 a year to continue to roll out the qualification but was rebuffed.
The funding gap has been reached with help from the three firms as well as schools, including Perry Beeches Academy in Great Barr.
Ms Harris accepted some ground had been lost but said quick progress could now be made.
She said: "It was more to do with the fact that we missed out on getting into the schools spending plans.
"This year we are viewing as a year of transition. We have learned a lot of lessons from the pilot. This year the BBacc will be running and the website is being built as we speak.
"All the resources are in place for this academic year and now we can have a major drive with schools and hopefully some significant growth for September 2015.
BBacc, run by Conservative politician and parliamentary candidate Rachel Maclean, involves forging close links between schools and major employers to ensure that future school leavers have the skills necessary to develop careers in growth areas such as life sciences, digital industries, food and hospitality and engineering.
Last year's pilot scheme saw major employers including Cadbury, Birmingham Airport, Midland Heart, HS2 and IBM involved in developing the curriculum and specific projects for schools.
Hays, which works with schools in the region including putting in supply teachers, has offered financial support as well as wider assistance.
Mark Staniland, managing director for Hays Recruitment in the West Midlands, said: "We have done a lot of work with schools in terms of our interview workshops but I was very impressed with Skills For Birmingham and the programme they were running.
"I was disappointed that after one year it was potentially going to come to an end, as I have seen very few things as good as this in terms of getting young people ready for work. It would have bene a great loss to Birmingham."
Paul Kehoe, chief executive at Birmingham Airport, said: "This is a great initiative because it's equipping future leaders with the skills that the city needs to prosper."