Most people in Britain think that the education system is too academic and fails to prepare pupils for the real world.
A survey for Edge, a new charity dedicated to raising the status of practical learning, found that three-quarters of adults agreed that "our education system places too much emphasis on academic achievement and not enough emphasis on children and young adults gaining practical experience of learning-by-doing".
A mere 14 per cent thought that traditional school lessons were useful for preparing them for life, while only one in five believed what they learned at school was useful in their later careers.
The research, which quizzed almost 4,500 people, also found that eight out of 10 thought their school or university should have done more to find out what sort of work would best suit them when they left education.
Almost four out of 10 said that they are now in a job that does not make the most of their abilities.
Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said many people were being put off learning for life.
"We are devoting too much energy to 'academic' tuition and not enough to 'practical learning'," he said. "Too many people enter the workplace naive and ill-prepared.
"Many end up in jobs that don't match their strengths and interests. This is damaging the nation's economic success. We have to provide young people with a wider, more relevant range of experiences while they are growing up."