AN East Lancashire MP has called on the government to change rail infrastructure plans into opportunities for young people.

Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones said plans to build high-speed rail routes in Britain could be a golden opportunity for the many young people who are out of work.

He said: “After years of uncertainty, work won’t begin until 2017 at the earliest. But now the government is committed to this infrastructure project. We must seize the opportunity and help the future career development of tens of thous-ands of young people.

“Britain has almost one million young people unemployed and the number out of work for more than 12 months has doubled in the last year.

“In the developed world, only Greece and Spain are doing worse.

“The economy has been flatlining for two years, but the building of high- speed rail routes is a fantastic opportunity to give a real boost to young people’s future prospects now.

“It is a chance to create a new generation of skilled British workers, rather than waste the talent of those growing up wondering if they will ever get a decent job.

“Experts say that for every £1million of government spending projects, a minimum of one apprenticeship should be created. When money is tight and we are spending £33billion, this really shouldn’t be too much to ask.

“Labour’s Youth Task Force is taking this chall- enge head on, examining the best ways of tackling the problem of youth unemployment by draw-ing on best practice acr-oss the country.

“For example, we would insist that when large firms win government contracts for projects like high-speed rail, they must put high-quality apprenticeship schemes in place and commit to training young people for high-skilled jobs.”