The Labour party has launched a Pounds 1.5 billion new deal for the young offering a guarantee of minimum qualifications for school-leavers and a choice of work or education for 18 to 25-year-olds.
Shadow education and employment spokesman David Blunkett unveiled Target 2000: Labour's plan for a lost generation, on Wednesday. He said he it would ensure that every young person able to achieve it would gain a minimum of NVQ level 2 in key skills by the age of 18.
The scheme aims to replace the Pounds 550 million youth training programme, which was criticised by Sir Ron Dearing for its poor completion rates. It concentrates on boosting staying-on rates at schools and colleges.
Mr Blunkett said that further education colleges would play a key role in the programme. Employers would be obliged to ensure that under-18s lacking level 2 key skills study - normally away from work - for one day a week.
In addition, a revamped careers service called the Personal Development and Guidance Service would interview every 14 to 18-year-old once a year to ensure that those who have left school and still lack intermediate qualifications are studying full-time if not in work.
The new programme also includes details of a Pounds 1 billion new deal scheme for 18-25-year-olds, promising that the 250,000 unemployed for more than six months will have the choice of a job in the private or voluntary sectors or an education or training place.
If these fail to attract the young people then the new deal also offers them a place on one of Labour's environmental taskforces which are designed, among other things, to improve and clean up local housing estates.