Young people aged 16-24 who are not in school, employment, or training (NEETs) have risen by 132,000 in England over the past five years, government reports have revealed.
"These devastating figures reflect the rough deal on offer to so many of our young people," said shadow skills secretary David Willetts.
"If, back in 1997, we had predicted a rise in the number of NEETs under Labour, we would not have been believed."
"The rise is vivid evidence of the deep problems in our education and training system. And it shows that young people are especially badly-placed to ride out the coming recession," he added.
Mr Willets further stated that these reports implicated the need for vocational training for youths not interested in classroom work.
"People are dropping out once school finishes because they can't find the right opportunities," he added.
The biggest growth in NEETs since 2003 has been among people in their early 20s.