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Colleges hold keys to Labour new deal

Labour will ask further education colleges to create the training schemes needed to meet the "new deal" promised for unemployed young people if it comes to power.

The deal announced by shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown would give four options to 280,000 under-25s out of work for more than six months. They could choose from employment, community work, joining an environment taskforce or full-time education. Failure to comply would mean a 40 per cent cut in benefits.

Reform of the 21-hour rule - which limits young jobless people's study time - would attract some to college without the sanction. But David Blunkett, the shadow education and employment spokesman, says more must be done to give them work skills.

He said: "We want to encourage hybrid courses which will give people wider skills and get them back to work permanently."

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