GLASGOW has the highest youth unemployment rate of any city in Britain with more than one quarter of its young people jobless, according to a study from an independent research group.

The Work Foundation has estimated only two areas, encompassing the English towns of Middlesbrough and Barnsley, have higher rates of unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds than the 27.2% recorded in Scotland's largest city.

Edinburgh has an "average" rate of youth unemployment of between 17% and 21%, according to the paper.

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MSPs said the report proved there was far more work to do to improve the prospects of young people. Iain Gray, Labour's finance spokesman, said it was a "wake-up call" to the Scottish Government, while Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said it would be "extremely worrying" to young people in Glasgow and their parents.

However, the data, which was drawn from a survey conducted by the Office Of National Statistics and does not include full-time students and focuses on Travel To Work Areas rather than rigid city or town boundaries, sparked controversy.

Glasgow City Council refused to accept the youth unemployment rate attributed to the area, saying there were dozens of places in the UK with a worse problem.

The Work Foundation also warned that while places that had relied on traditional industries are hardest hit by youth unemployment, rates are still too high in better-performing parts of the UK.

Aberdeen had a youth unemployment rate of under 13%, the fifth-best of the 53 UK towns and cities analysed, yet compared poorly with some other European cities, the report said.

In Germany, the national average rate of youth unemployment is 8.6%, the Lancaster University-based researchers found.

The report's authors conclude that attempts by the UK Government to tackle the youth unemployment crisis have failed and called for radical solutions, including help for youngsters to move to more prosperous areas so they can find work. It also backed action to improve apprenticeships, more work experience placements and better careers advice.

Lizzie Crowley, who co-wrote the study, said: "It is shocking that in some cities almost a third of young people are looking for work but are unable to find it. Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said the "authority absolutely do not recognise" the unemployment rate attributed to it.

"According to our figures, there are 49 large local authorities in the UK, and many cities, with higher youth employment rates. More than half of Glasgow's 18-24-year-olds are students, and these are not included in this report, therefore not giving the full picture," he said.

"The council understands the importance of ensuring young people are either in work, education or training to the city's prosperity now and in the decades to come. To give just one example of this, the council's £50million Glasgow Guarantee has provided more than 4000 jobs, apprenticeships and training places since the summer of 2009."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it would consider the report, adding: "Scotland has taken great steps to address employment rates among young people. While we can boast one of the top youth employment records in Europe we can't be complacent."