A staggering 10,000 vulnerable children are dropping out of Victorian high schools, training and apprenticeships every year, triggering fears of a generation lost in a world of future unemployment.

For the first time, the Education Department has used identification numbers issued to students to track accurately how many children of compulsory school-age (under 17) are disappearing from the state's education and training system.

A government document obtained by The Age shows more than 10,000 students in years 9 to 11 disengage from the education and training systems every year. A further 6000 drop out within 12 months of transferring to the vocational education and training (VET) system.

The news comes as the federal government looks set to cut funding for Youth Connections, a program that helps young Australians remain engaged with education, work and training and as experts warn of a pending ''social disaster''.

A state government pilot program, Youth Partnerships, which tests and designs collaborative ways for services to support vulnerable youth will also come to an end next month.

Commissioner for Children and Young People Bernie Geary called on the Education Department to reveal details of the missing children so that they could receive help.

“There is evidence many thousands of young people have disappeared off the education radar. It is the responsibility of the Education Department to tell us where they are so we can resume contact with them.”

The nine-digit numbers, which are issued to every Victorian student and tied to their name, gender and date of birth, provide accurate data on a student's movement from school to school, and within VET providers.

Goldfields Local Learning and Employment Network executive officer Anne Brosnan recently told a federal parliamentary committee that analysis of the student identification numbers showed that 240 Bendigo students were not in schools, TAFEs or registered training organisations in May 2012.

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Tony Nicholson said the state government figures added to a picture of an "unfolding social disaster in Victoria". 

"There are large numbers of young people ill-equipped to be employed, and for whom their life chances are curtailed at a very early age."

A recent Brotherhood of St Laurence report found the unemployment rate for 15 to 24-year-olds is now 12.5 per cent, but 17.5 per cent in the Hume region in Victoria and 14.8 per cent in the north and west of metropolitan Melbourne. 

Shadow parliamentary secretary for education Colin Brooks slammed the state government for axing Youth Partnerships, which aims to improve engagement in training and education for vulnerable youths aged between 10 to 18.

“The Napthine government is failing young Victorians. Denis Napthine is culpable because he knows the size of this problem, of massive youth disengagement, yet he has chosen to do nothing.”

An Education Department spokesman said: “the department is currently working on new ways to measure student disengagement – which will include measuring student numbers. This work is still under way and is not yet finalised.”

He said outcomes from the three-year Youth Partnerships project would inform government policies and programs.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Martin Dixon said the Coalition government was “committed to supporting vulnerable young people and getting disengaged students back into school.”

She said it had delivered a range of programs for vulnerable young people including 150 primary welfare officers for government primary schools, a $750,000 partnership with headspace to help schools improve support for vulnerable children and the Senior Secondary re-engagement program.

Victorian Youth Connections Network chairwoman Tracey Fenton said the federally funded program had transformed the lives of thousands of young people, with 93 per cent of disengaged participants moving into some form of employment, education or training within six months.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King warned of rising youth unemployment if programs for vulnerable young people were cut. She said students who dropped out of schools and training before year 12 found it incredibly difficult to find work.

Senator Scott Ryan, parliamentary secretary to the federal Education Minister, said future funding of the program was “the subject of consideration” in this week's budget.