Despite record numbers graduating from universities, British graduates have never been so poorly qualified for the world of work, a veteran recruiter has complained.
Robert Walters, founder of the recruitment company of the same name, has described the lack of ambition and skills of new British graduates as "unbelievable".
His comments come as his company has published research showing British businesses are crying out for talented recruits in many areas, and increasingly having to look overseas, in part because of a lack of ambition among graduates to go out and make money.
Walters told The Daily Telegraph newspaper: "It's unbelievable. I've been in the recruitment industry for 27 years and I've never seen anything like it," he said.
"There are fewer people doing IT degrees than has been for 15 years," he said. "No one I know is saying they want to go into law or into accountancy. They just want to sit on a beach and trade on eBay. It's not just my kids. It's real and I see it all the time."
Large, professional services organisations were reporting huge pressure to retain London staff this year, Walters' company said.
Many firms were will struggling to retain staff who were not happy with their packages, and the number of people expressing dissatisfaction with their overall packages was almost a fifth higher than last year.
Significant premiums were being paid to attract the top talent overseas, especially to Asia.
For example, a finance director earning £250,000 per year in London could be offered between £300,000 and £500,000 per year for a job in the Far East, before taking into account housing and schooling benefits.
Such professional firms were increasingly turning to eastern Europe, South Africa and even South America as try to plug their the skills gap, said the company.
Eastern Europe, in particular, with the accession of countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania into the European Union, provided good opportunities for recruiting, it added.