Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said the Labour Party is wrong in seeking to punish unemployed young people for the economic crisis.
The remarks were made in response to Ed Miliband’s policy announcement that a Westminster Government led by him will penalise young people by removing their unemployment benefits unless they take up training. He said Labour will replace the Jobseekers’ Allowance with a means-tested “youth allowance.”
Ms Wood said: “Since the Miners' Strike in 1984 both Labour and the Tories in office have followed a policy of intentional deindustrialisation of our communities. Both put all our economic eggs in the banking basket in the city of London.
“The result of that policy has been to leave young people with fewer job prospects and fewer opportunities. For example, in the Rhondda where I live, youth unemployment has surpassed 40% and is the highest in Wales. In other parts of the valleys in the south, one out of every three youths is unemployed.
“Labour’s latest proposal, which amounts to punishing young people for the failed policies of successive Westminster governments, is further evidence that the party set up to defend working people has turned its back on them.
“Plaid Cymru has plans to boost apprenticeship places and recently we’ve suggested embedding engineering skills as part of school curricula so that young people can be given the skills they need to find well-paid, highly-skilled work in their communities.
“This contrasts starkly with Labour’s plans to punish people for an economic imbalance that they had no part in creating. The Party of Wales sees the shortage of decent jobs as the problem, not unemployed people themselves.”
Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru’s MP for Arfon, added: “Most unemployed young people are desperate to get into work but the problem is lack of jobs and opportunities.
"Young people have been hit hardest by the recession but Labour seem intent on putting them under even greater pressure by penalising them for an economic crash not of their doing.
"I am particularly concerned that Labour's proposed system is to be means-tested. This is likely to make it inefficient, costly and complicated.
"Wales is already suffering disproportionately with ONS statistics showing the youth unemployment rate is 21.3% - higher than the other UK nations and significantly higher than the UK average.
"The current recovery is being driven by inflated house prices and soaring personal debt - a recipe for disaster.
"The key to a sustainable recovery is job-creation and growth that would get thousands of people back into work and restore confidence in the economy.
"What Wales needs are policies such as those brought forward by Plaid Cymru to rebalance the economy, invest in infrastructure to generate jobs and growth, and a living wage - not a populist race to the bottom by the Westminster parties who are yet again failing our nation."