More than half the Pounds 55 million set aside by the Government this week to promote lifetime learning will go on initiatives aimed at school-leavers and young adults.
The announcement of the first round of projects for the European Year of Lifetime Learning co-incided with a warning from the Children's Society that job prospects for young people were bleaker than for generations.
A Harris poll for the society shows that most respondents hold out little hope for an estimated 820,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work and without training.
A report of the survey stresses the need for a Government strategy to reach them, and for incentives for employers to invest.
Plans for a range of Government-backed initiatives were announced by Education and Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard at an adult learning conference in London, organised by the TEC national council.
The Government has committed nearly Pounds 25 million for pump-priming 175 local training projects run by training and enterprise councils in the first round of bids for cash. Private industry has pledged another Pounds 50 million.
Projects, lasting up to three years, range from high-level skills development to support for the most disadvantaged. In Bradford, for example, there is a scheme to promote learning on the Internet. Others include the placement of teachers into industry in Sheffield.
An apprenticeship scheme for disabled people was give the go-ahead in Wiltshire and a 14-19 FE initiative in Manchester.
Raising achievement at school and transition from school to work gets nearly 10 per cent (Pounds 2.4m) for 18 projects, while training for employed people and initiatives for individual commitment to lifetime learning receive almost half of the total for 79 projects. Organisations wishing to become Investors in People get almost Pounds 1 million.
Mrs Shephard told the 200 conference delegates: "We learn not just for economic reasons. Learning benefits the family and enriches the lives of older people who can contribute more to the community."