Ministers hope the scheme, aimed at 14 to 16-year-olds, will remotivate them and help cut truancy.
From September, schools will be free to allocate 15 per cent of the timetable to work-related learning for pupils who could benefit. This would involve work experience and further education.
"For these teenagers we need to offer something more than the national curriculum," said Education Secretary David Blunkett. "In the past they could have learned a trade and seen the direct link between training and work. We need to rebuild those links."
Schools will have to produce workable plans, ensuring that the pupils get a broad and balanced curriculum.
Mr Blunkett also announced Pounds 800 000 to support 21 projects tackling disaffection. One thousand youngsters will receive help with key skills and work placements.