Post-school education is the latest addition to the agenda for the Scottish parliament. Opportunities and Choices, a consultation paper issued on Wednesday, estimates as many as 16,000 young people aged 16-18 are not in education, training and employment.
"For many of this group the prospects are a cycle of short-term, low-paid jobs, unemployment and poverty," the paper states.
The Government is also targeting the 40 per cent of school-leavers who have not achieved five Standard grades 1-3 or equivalent vocational qualifications at level II.
"When this figure is set beside the 20 per cent of the 19-year-old population who have not achieved that target," the paper comments, "it points to a problem of underachievement."
Studies by the Inspectorate and the innovative Fast-Trac project in Fife have demonstrated that student underachievement and drop-out rates are linked to low attainment at school, a history of poor attendance, a deprived background and a need for more support and guidance.
The paper says both school-leavers and employers, especially in small businesses, still need to be convinced about the virtues of training.
The Scottish Office wants to see more integrated courses that combine attendance at college and on-the-job training with an employer. But this would require colleges, employers, the Scottish Office and local enterprise companies to agree to pool their resources - the Fife Fast-Trac model.