The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the employment rate fell by 0.1 per cent – to stand at 72.1 per cent for the three months to April.

For the chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation Kevin Green, it is disappointing to see the number of people out of work touching 2.5 million, but stated his organisation did not believe it would reach three million because of growing private sector confidence.

However, he showed particular concern for the 926,000 individuals, between the ages of 16 and 24, who are not in employment or some form of training.

"We need to do more to help these young people get on the first rung of the jobs ladder if we are to avoid a jobless generation," said Mr Green.

He confirmed that the REC would be making recommendations to the government on this "worrying" issue, but stressed that the UK’s business community has a "pivotal role" in creating avenues in the world of work for people in this age group.

By Ross George