Every unemployed youth under the age of 25 will be guaranteed a job, a work placement, or training after six months out of work, Alistair Darling promised. The previous guarantee was a place after 12 months' unemployment.
Making sure that youngsters are not left languishing on benefits is the most important part of the Government's plans to ensure that unemployment figures do not take off during the recession.
Mr Darling also repeated an earlier promise to guarantee a place for every 16 and 17-year-old in education or training in September 2010.
"Past recessions have had a very damaging impact on young people, who should be starting their working lives but instead are unemployed," Mr Darling said.
The unemployed total stands at 1.6 million, and is expected to increase; but Mr Darling said it compared favourably with recessions in 1985 and 1992, when unemployment reached three million.
The young have been disproportionately affected by the jobs shortage. Figures published last month showed that more than a million 16 to 24-year-olds are not in education, employment or training. They include one in 10 teenagers aged 16 to 18. This is despite a government target to reduce the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training to 7.6 per cent by next year.Reuse content