Official figures now show that one in five 16-24 year olds is unemployed.

As well as that, the UK now has the highest level of unemployment since 1996, the Office of National Statistics revealed, with 8.3% of the economically active population now out of work.

The growing number of young people in long-term unemployment – more than 200,000 have been out of work for more than 12 months – has reignited fears that the UK could be cultivating a “scarred generation” with many individuals who fail to fully connect to the workforce, experiencing a lifetime of reduced wages, lower job security and poorer mental wellbeing.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said the eurozone’s troubles were behind the rise.

“These figures are bad news. They are I’m afraid the consequence of what we’re seeing in the eurozone,” he said.

“If you go back four months, unemployment was falling, youth unemployment was lower than 900,000. We’ve seen a big slowdown in the economy I think as a result of the crisis elsewhere.”

But leading Liberal Democrat peer Matthew Oakeshott countered that Grayling was overlooking domestic problems.

“It’s ridiculous to blame this rise in unemployment on the crisis in the eurozone. All economists know it’s a lagging indicator so this is the result of what has been happening iun our economy over the past year, for example the collapse in the housebuilding to the lowest peace-time level since 1923,” he said.

 Deputy PMNick Clegg admitted that the government had to do more.

“I do actually accept that we do need to take more action,” he said.

“I think it would be a real dereliction of duty if we did not do more to try and make sure that young people are either given a real pathway into training, into education, into further education, into higher education or into the labour market.”