Campaigners who attacked the Government’s work experience programme have been condemned as “extremists” and “job snobs” in an angry House of Commons debate.
Marcus Jones (Con Nuneaton) hit back following a wave of protests against firms such as Tesco, which critics have accused of exploiting young people by offering unpaid work placements.
Some campaigners even compared the Government-backed work experience scheme to the slave trade.
But Mr Jones claimed the critics were trying to deprive young people of valuable experience which could lead to a job.
Labour MPs insisted young people had indeed been forced to carry out compulsory unpaid work, as critics claim, and blamed the Government for giving work experience a bad name.
Leading a House of Commons debate, Mr Jones said he was “dismayed” by the hostility shown to businesses taking part in the scheme.
“I have been dismayed by the vitriol towards employers, who have not sought to create a free supply of labour but, on the contrary, have shown a genuine will to give experience and a chance to young people who, for whatever reason, have not been given that chance elsewhere.”
He added: “That is disgraceful, and an indictment of the methods that some of the people in that extremist group use.”