YOUTH unemployment was on the agenda as European Parliament members returned to work after their new year break.

EU politicians want to introduce a union-wide “youth guarantee”, aiming to ensure young people get a job, education or internship offer after four months unemployment.

Plans were given the goahead by parliamentarians in Strasbourg and EU employment ministers must agree in February on introducing schemes in all member states.

The latest Worcestershire County Council figures show Wyre Forest, with 8.1 per cent, has the highest number of 18 to 24-year-old Jobseekers Allowance claimants in the county.

That figure, although not at the astronomical levels of Spain and Greece (whose rate is 55 per cent), is higher than the Worcestershire and England averages of 6.5 and 6.6 per cent respectively.

Austrian MEP Evelyn Regner, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats member, invited MEPs and the European Commission to look at a “dual system” from her home country, which provides guaranteed apprenticeship training coupled with job coaching.

Mrs Regner, who described Europe's youth unemployment rates as “a scandal”, said the system had received a large investment but also seen a big return.

West Midlands Conservative MEP, Anthea McIntyre, however, voted against the proposals, explaining there “is no one size fits all solution”.

She said the UK Government’s new “youth contract” scheme showed “good work” was being done at member state level.