Those who drop out of education early are likely to have shorter lives than those who continue learning, says a schools expert.
Jon Coles, director of schools for England at the Department for Children, Schools and Families quoted research suggesting 15 per cent of teens not in education or training could die within ten years.
Mr Coles said that researchers found that a significant number of those permanently excluded from education and unable to find any work died before their research was completed.
"For those of us who sometimes console ourselves with the thought that education is not a matter of life and death, for the most vulnerable children and young people in our society, it really is," he added.
The government pledged in June this year that it would reduce the numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education by two per cent for 2010.
Figures from 2008 indicate that a record 79 per cent of young people are currently in work or education.