Thousands of 25 to 29-year-olds, who should have already embarked on their career paths, are among a "stalled generation" who cannot move on with their lives.
The proportion of unemployed 25 to 29-year-old Scots has nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011, rising from 4.7% to 8.4%, according to the study – A Stalled Generation? Transitions to adulthood in Scotland today.
It revealed that, in April 2008, there were 2190 male and 540 female 25 to 29-year-olds on benefits. By April this year, the figure had risen to 3630 males – a 66% increase – with 1220 females (a 126% rise).
The report for ProjectScotland, a charity that helps find volunteer placements with not-for-profit organisations, says more needs to be done to help the 25-29 age group break into the jobs market.
ProjectScotland urges policy-makers to focus attention on the "stalled generation" and target the group with support networks.
Many graduates are being forced to take less qualified or part-time jobs to make ends meet, with the knock-on effect of minimising opportunities for those less qualified.
The study, carried out by the Scotcen social research group, comes as the latest jobless figures are published today. Unemployment in Scotland has fallen in recent months, but is still higher than one year ago.
ProjectScotland chief executive Susan Watt said: "Our original motivation for commissioning this research was to test our belief that the recession had badly affected young adults up to the age of 30, and not just those in the 18-to-24 age group.
"Sadly the figures seem to bear that out. The final report highlights additional worrying trends, not least the difficulties some graduates are experiencing in getting into their chosen careers and so are forced to accept part-time work or periods of under-employment.
"This, of course, has the effect of squeezing less qualified young people out of the jobs market, and puts more strain on families as they have to support their adult children through this difficult time."
ProjectScotland has expanded the number of placements it offers and extended the upper age limit to 30.
Other schemes include Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Works Programme.
The CJS helps find people employment in the voluntary sector, but these jobs are primarily 18 to 24-year-olds. Contracts last for six months and are minimum wage.
The DWP programme is run by organisations on behalf of Jobcentre Plus and over-25s wishing to join must have been claiming benefits for at least a year.
The report's author, Simon Anderson, says more research is needed so that targeted solutions can be devised. He said: "For many in their teens and twenties, the effect of the downturn has been to make those transitions
even lengthier and more challenging."
A DWP spokesman said: "There's lots of help out there for jobseekers of all ages. Jobcentre Plus advisers can help with skills and training, work experience is available and the New Enterprise Allowance helps claimants set up their own business."
A Scottish Government spokesman said it was "using every lever available to create the conditions for jobs and growth through targeted investment".