Plans to encourage young people to continue with school or training until they are 18 years old are to be detailed by the government later.
Young people will have to be in training or education until 18
A Green Paper is expected to reveal if the government thinks pupils should be legally forced to stay in education.
Gordon Brown said every teenager would have "a right" to stay in training or school until they were 18 during his Budget speech on Wednesday.
The age at which children must attend school was raised to 16 in 1972.
John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the sector he represented supported the ambition of the government.
Meanwhile, Richard Lambert, CBI director-general, said: "The CBI supports moves to raise the age at which young people can leave education or training to address the lack of basic and employability skills amongst many young people entering the labour market."
Previously, the Department for Education and Skills said its plans would see the school leaving age raised in England by 2013.
SCHOOL LEAVING AGE
1870:First compulsory school for younger children
1880: Attendance officers enforce school for 5 to 10 year olds
1899: Leaving age raised to 12
1918: Full-time education compulsory up to 14
1944: Education Act raises leaving age to 15
1964: Raising of school leaving age to 16 announced, but not in place until 1972
Recent figures for England showed that 11% of 16 to 18-year-olds are still outside education, training or work.
At present, 76% of this age group are in education or receiving training - which will mean that the remainder will either have to begin workplace training or return to further education.
Plans for funding and implementation are reported to have been drawn up in meetings between the education department, the Treasury, business representatives and head teachers' leaders.
Among the examples of how this might be enforced is a scheme in Canada, where under 18-year-olds cannot get a driving licence without proof that they are in education or training.
Young people are already offered financial incentives - the educational maintenance allowances (EMAs) - to help them stay in education beyond the age of 16.
The Education Secretary Alan Johnson previously said it was "repellent that a youngster of 16 is not getting any training".