According to the trade union organisation, the inclusion in the workplace of young people has declined significantly since 2001, when over 85 per cent of young people were either working or studying.
The outlook for young people has deteriorated particularly since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008 and has “been at crisis levels ever since”, said the TUC.
“This was not as a result of falling levels of educational participation – which have remained relatively stable during the recession – but of falling employment rates,” it commented.
Analysis of employment and education data by the organisation revealed that over the last 20 years, the proportion of young people in full-time education has nearly doubled from 24 per cent in 1992 to 41 per cent in 2012.
But despite this surge in education, the proportion of young people who are neither working nor studying full-time today has risen to 20.4 per cent, the highest level since October 1994.
More than one in five (22 per cent) 16-24 year olds are currently unemployed, compared to 16 per cent in 1992.
“Students looking to start their careers or continue in their education next month are facing the toughest climate for nearly 20 years,” said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.
“If this continues we could lose a generation of talented and highly qualified youngsters to blighted careers, debt and under-achievement.”
The TUC’s research was released ahead of yesterday’s employment figures from the Office for National Statistics, which revealed that the employment rate for those aged between 16 and 64 increased by 0.4 percentage points in the three months to May.
However, following the release of the figures, Mr Barber warned that this fall in unemployment may be temporary.
“Today’s fall in unemployment is welcome, but there are worrying trends brewing and with the economy getting smaller it may only be a matter of time before the dole queues start rising again,” he said.
“Young people in particular are struggling to get their careers off the ground. The number of people under 25 who are neither working or in full-time education has risen again to nearly 1.5 million.”