The coalition has announced a £60m package to reverse the trend of rising youth unemployment through more vocational education and by improving job prospects.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s time to reverse the trend of rising youth unemployment that has held back our country for far too long and help our young people get the jobs on which their future – and ours – depends.

“But government can’t act alone. We need employers who are prepared to give young people a go. So I’m delighted that [companies] have already responded to our call for work experience placements so that tens of thousands of young people can take those vital first steps in experiencing the world of work.”

Calling the youth unemployment situation a “scandal”, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith commented: “The only route to a sustained reduction in poverty is through helping young people into work, not leaving them to a life on benefits.”

But the shadow employment minister Stephen Timms said that they money being allocated was roughly what Duncan Smith’s department spent in a year on postage and ‘phones.

And TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The best thing the government could do is stop their deep rapid spending cuts that are running the whole economy into the ground, with the young as the worst victims.”