Children, schools and families secretary Ed Balls has unveiled his vision to increase the length of time young people stay in education.
In a speech to theFabian Society, Mr Balls set out the government's aim to increase the school leaving age to:
17 by 2013
18 by 2015
The move is part of the government's strategy to reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training.
Mr Balls said: “The days were many people could leave school at sixteen without qualifications and work their way up into a fulfilling and rewarding career are behind us.
“The demand for high-level skills has increased substantially over the last 20 years and is likely to continue to do so with a 50% increase in the proportion of jobs that demand high-level skills by 2020."