Mr Blunkett said incentives for volunteering had to be offered
Everyone between the ages of 16 and 25 should do at least six months of "intensive" voluntary work, former home secretary David Blunkett has said.
The Labour MP said such a scheme would foster a "sense of belonging" among young people.
Mr Blunkett said it would also demonstrate that "we have to do things for ourselves", as the global economic crisis develops.
The ideas are presented in a report for Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Mr Blunkett said the scheme - involving six to nine months of voluntary work within communities - should be tested in three or four cities before being rolled out across the UK.
The MP for Sheffield Brightside, who was education secretary before he went to the Home Office, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would emphasise "the identity of people, the sense of belonging".
'Sense of belonging'
It would also give a perspective on "what's happening to them in other parts of their lives".
He said: "If we can get people to volunteer, particularly young people, and we can change their view of themselves and the world around them, that will restore what I call the glue [of society]."
When asked whether the scheme should become a form of compulsory national service Mr Blunkett replied: "It's been reinforced to me in the last year that you can't have volunteering unless it's voluntary."
Instead, he called for a system of incentives to attract young people.
Mr Blunkett said this would mean a return to "the old Labour adage to give us the opportunity to do things for ourselves".
His proposals are contained in a pamphlet for the Fabian Society.