Gordon Brown is to host talks with business and union leaders about measures aimed at safeguarding jobs during the downturn.
With 1.8 million people out of work, the prime minister is expected to warn that a failure to act now will mean a deeper and longer recession.
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell will also give details on a plan to help the long-term unemployed.
The Tories have dismissed the meeting as an exercise in spin.
Mr Brown is expected to open the jobs summit at the Science Museum in London with a warning that a deeper recession would mean whole communities being written off and lasting damage to the economy.