Student groups have united with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to demand a coherent Government strategy to address youth unemployment, which currently stands at over 26%.

The Union of Students in Ireland, the Irish Second-Level Students' Union and Congress called for an end to what they called the "lockout" of young people from the jobs market.

They are proposing a national jobs strategy for young people, a jobs stimulus, major investment in the Youth Guarantee Scheme, a legal framework and better regulation of work placement.

They also want the creation of a new career information service and a nationwide survey of skills.

The group is seeking meetings with relevant Government ministers and civil servants in a bid to progress their demands.

USI President Joe O'Connor noted that 35,000 young people had emigrated last year, while a further 65,000 remain unemployed in Ireland.

He said that many were highly-qualified graduates who had benefited from huge State investment in their education, who wanted to stay and contribute to a national recovery, but who had no employment opportunities to do so.

Congress Youth Committee spokesperson Lorraine Mulligan said Ireland could not afford to lose a generation to joblessness, emigration or precarious work.

She said poor working conditions for young people who have jobs must also be tackled.