More than 150 companies and other organisations signed up today to a Government drive to help find jobs or training for young people suffering from the ravages of unemployment.
Firms including the Royal Mail, Microsoft, Pfizer, Phones4U, Centrica and Morrisons will provide apprenticeships, work or training.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is set to detail plans later today to guarantee a job for anyone aged between 18 and 24 who has been out of work for 10 months, rather than a year as previously planned.
The move follows calls from unions and business groups for ministers to do more to help jobless youngsters, such as expanding the apprenticeship programme and creating more work experience and internship opportunities across Britain.
Official figures have revealed that the jobless rate among 16 to 24-year-olds has soared to almost 20%, with more than 920,000 classed as unemployed, and the number surging towards the politically sensitive one million mark.
Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said the main point of today's move, and previously-announced measures, was to make sure Britain did not return to the 1980s, when young people were out of work for years.
The Government was "determined" to guarantee work, training or other employment options to young people, she said.
Most young people found work or training within three months of being unemployed, the minister said.
She maintained there were more than 70,000 vacancies in the retail sector alone but acknowledged that young people were often overlooked in favour of more experienced candidates.
"That is why we have to give them the first step on the jobs ladder," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Young people have a harder time when there is an economic downturn but we are now prepared to put extra investment in."
Ministers are drawing up a "back to work" White Paper, which is expected to give more details on how unemployment is hitting the economy and measures to tackle the problem.
Plans being outlined today include training for young people in potential growth industries such as retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism.
Campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs, backed by a number of leading trade unions, is staging a demonstration against rising youth unemployment in London on November 28 and a lobby of Parliament to mark the next set of unemployment figures later this month.
The Government has been pressing employers to offer more jobs, apprenticeships and work placements to youngsters suffering from the rising tide of unemployment, which increased to 2.4 million last month.
Ministers recently announced 47,000 new jobs for under-25s from the £1 billion Future Jobs Fund.
"We won't allow a generation of talent to be wasted because of the recession and we want all organisations to support our national Backing Young Britain campaign, to create more opportunities for young people and add to those already on offer due to Government investment," said a Work and Pensions Department spokesman.
The Conservatives have warned that jobcentres are on the verge of "meltdown" because of the high number of people looking for work.
The Tories claimed last week that three million people have not had a job since before 1996, and a further two million people in England and Wales have never worked.
Ms Cooper added: "We will not lose a generation of young people to work because of the global recession.
"We already have over 150 of Britain's top employers signing up to Backing Young Britain to create opportunities for young people.
"It is crucial for all of us that we make sure we do everything we can to harness the skills and talent of young people now so that we can all benefit in the future.
"We are acting now so that unemployment does not scar families, communities and the economy for generations."Reuse content