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."