Employers have complained that Britain's education system of failing to meet the needs of employers as a new survey finds that the number of firms having difficulty finding skilled employees has risen by 50 per cent in the past decade.
A survey of 6,000 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that 43 per cent of employers reported difficulties finding staff with basic skills, compared with 29 per cent in 1994.
According to David Frost, Director General of the BCC, employers are frustrated that young people are not equipped with the right skills for the workplace.
"The system is simply not providing potential employees with the right skills for business and our figures show it has been failing for many years.
"The skills of our workforce are already lagging behind many of our global competitors. The Government must implement lasting reform in its proposals next week or our competitive edge could be seriously harmed. Businesses cannot wait any longer," he warned
Last month Miles Templeman, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said that government policies on education and training – particularly the lack of a proper system of vocational education - were to blame for the UK’s continuing productivity gap.
Meanwhile a poll by the CBI last year found that 37 per cent of firms were not satisfied with school leavers' English and maths skills while 46 per cent were unhappy with their "self-management" skills.
In the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sectors, other research has found that more than eight out of 10 employers feel they are being failed by the education system.
Shadow education secretary Tim Collins said the government was "strangling our long-term skills base".
Some 40,000 school leavers in Britain enter the jobs market without a single GCSE, while the number of adults with inadequate literacy and numeracy is growing.
"Ministers' preoccupation with getting 50 per cent of young people into university is clearly not going to address the problem of building a high quality vocational alternative in the labour market," Collins said.