Young people taking part in the Government's work experience scheme are more likely to leave benefits and find a job, ministers said today.
The scheme came under attack earlier this year because of the threat of benefit sanctions if youngsters left early, forcing the Government to announce changes.
The Department for Work and Pensions said new research showed that the first 3,490 young people who took part in the placements were 16% more likely to be off benefits within 21 weeks than those in a similar group who did not take part.
The department said it was the first detailed analysis of the scheme, which was launched in January 2011.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "These early figures show our voluntary work experience scheme is making a big difference to the prospects of our young people, helping them get off benefits and into work.
"Work experience gives young people vital skills they will need to get a job and a chance to shine in front of a potential employer. Those who criticised the scheme have got it badly wrong."
Stephen Timms, Labour's shadow employment minister, said: "It's a tragedy that this out-of-touch Tory-led Government made such a complete shambles of introducing its work experience schemes earlier this year, discouraging both employers and young people from taking part."