Almost a million young people are not in school, work or training, official figures show.
One in six 16 to 24-year-olds is now considered "NEET" (not in education, employment or training), according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).
It comes a week after unemployment figures showed that the numbers of 16 to 24-year-olds not in work increased by 22,000 to 1.04 million in the three months to December.
Thurday's statistics show that an extra 19,000 young people aged 16-24 were considered NEET in the final three months of last year, compared with the same period in 2010.
In total, 958,000 young people aged 16-24 were considered NEET in the fourth quarter of 2011. For the same period in 2010, the figure was 939,000.
The statistics also show that there are 148,000 more NEETs than five years ago.
In the three months to December 2006, 810,000 16 to 24-year-olds were classified as NEET.
A government spokesman said officials were investing almost £1bn extra over the next three years in helping to get young people into education, training and jobs.
"The number of young people who are not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long - we are determined to bring the numbers down," he said.
"We are making sure that young people have the skills they need to get ready for work - creating the biggest apprenticeships programme our country has ever seen and overhauling vocational education, so all employers can be confident about the rigour of our qualifications."
Barnardo's deputy chief executive Jane Stacey said: "Whilst it is encouraging that the Government is seeking to provide more support to get young people earning and learning, resources also need to be focused on helping them avoid becoming NEET in the first place.
"A recent Barnardo's report, Staying the Course, found that since the replacement of the education maintenance allowance with the bursary fund, some students are now being forced to skip meals just to afford the bus to college.
"More investment is needed to ensure that students from poorer backgrounds can actually afford to stay on in education and training."
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