One in three unemployed young people have been out of work for more than six months, prompting fears they could be exploited through unpaid internships and work experience.
According to the TUC, 366,000 young people have been unemployed for more than six months and the union body predicts another sharp increase in youth unemployment when the latest jobless figures from the Office of National Statistics are released tomorrow (14 October).
The union said young people in the West Midlands had been hit hardest by the recession, with the numbers of young people out of work increasing more than twice as fast as the UK average.
The region has the highest youth unemployment rate at 26.7%, followed by the North East at 22.2% and Yorkshire and Humber at 21.2%.
The TUC warned that a generation of young people could be left on the scrap heap if action is not taken to stem the flow of rising youth unemployment.
It applauded the government’s Future Jobs Fund for any young person who has been out of work for at least 10 months, but said the 100,000 places would most likely be oversubscribed.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The Future Jobs Fund is providing new jobs at decent wages for young people and cutting it would be a disaster. But we also want to see real support for those who have only just lost their jobs.
“While internships can be a valuable means of providing young people with work experience, great care needs to be taken to ensure that they are not used to exploit young people or as a substitute for real jobs. It is important that interns receive their legal rights and are paid at least the minimum wage.”