According to the Confederation of British Industry, too many school leavers are unable to write to the proper standard, lack basic numeracy skills and can’t find their way around a computer.
In addition, say nearly two-thirds of business leaders responding to the CBI survey, vital skills like timekeeping and self-management weren't being developed at school. 60% of respondents reported problems with self-
management, 69% criticised the lack of awareness of both the business and its customers, and 37% expressed concern at young people's attitude to work in general.
The results of the survey - of 542 firms, employing in total approximately 1.6 million people - show that 42% of companies now stage lessons in core subjects because of the number of youngsters finding it impossible to function properly in the workplace.
The most common extra training is in IT, with 20% of employers adding numeracy or literacy classes, since around a third of the respondents saying they were unhappy with skill levels in either of those subjects.
The results also add to concerns that the education system as a whole isn't able to equip children for a future both at university and in the workplace.
One reason for this could be the annual improvement in GCSE and A-Level results, where teachers have been focussing on "teaching to the test" rather than helping children achieve an al-round education.
The Director-General of the CBI, John Cridland, says: "The foundations for the development of higher-level skills and the essentials for working life, that employers require, are laid at school.
"With the right start at school our young people can go on to have successful and fulfilling careers and have a strong base from which to learn more at college, university, or in the workplace.
"But levels of educational attainment are rising fast in many leading and emerging economies, so in the UK we must ensure that our education and skills system can continue to compete at the cutting edge."
A Government source says: "The CBI is right. Despite billions being pumped into schools by Labour, standards were not good enough.
“The unions and Labour set up a system that saw thousands of children pushed into doing worthless courses that meant they left school without knowing the basics. We need a relentless focus on the basics combined with real opportunities to reach the high standards other countries achieve.
“There is no more important task for our country than ending this crippling waste of talent."
To end this "crippling waste of talent" would involve giving schoolchildren more of an all-round education, rather than merely preparing them for the tests they face at GCSE and A-Level.
Once they've left secondary education their self-management and other skills including timekeeping need to be improved... as well as those negative attitudes towards work in general.
All of this can be achieved - with benefits to both employer and new employee - by a suitable apprenticeship program, of which there are thousands throughout the UK to choose from.