People with a criminal record are the most likely to struggle when it comes to finding employment in Britain, employers have suggested.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has concluded that, of the so-called "core jobless", those with a criminal record are the most likely to be excluded by employers.
Its findings follow a government consultation on the issue.
More than a third of UK employers said they would not consider hiring an ex-offender, despite the fact they rated ex-offenders more highly than other core jobless groups, said the CIPD.
Among those employers with experience of employing ex-offenders, 87 per cent considered them at least as productive as other workers and three quarters considered them at least as reliable.
This positive perception was corroborated by earlier findings from related research, said the CIPD, showing that those who had knowingly employed ex-offenders had had a positive experience.
A fifth of employers said they would be more likely to consider applicants from core jobless groups if additional state support – such as state-sponsored schemes like the New Deal and the use of employment advisers during periods of employment – was provided.
A similar figure said a better match between the applicant and the skills needs of the organisation would also help boost recruitment.
Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said the proposed use of "job developers" or "offender managers" to help support and mentor individuals into continued training and successful job retention was helpful.
"However, the negative attitudes of many employers towards ex-offenders, which is not in every case justified on the basis of their potential, remains a residual problem for the government and employer bodies," she warned.
"We therefore call upon the government to launch a campaign alongside employer bodies, as it has done with good effect on issues such as ageism, to remove the negative stereotypes about ex-offenders.
"Employability measures are all well and good, but these must be matched by greater efforts to overcome such negative attitudes," she added.