The UK education system needs to do a better job at preparing young people for the world of work, according to the Confederation of British Industry.
The business body, which surveyed 291 companies, found that more than six in ten (61%) are concerned about the resilience and self-management of school leavers and a third (33%) with their attitude to work.
By contrast, CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey also revealed that nearly all firms (96%) are satisfied with young peoples' IT abilities when they enter the workplace.
"Businesses feel very strongly that the education system must better prepare young people for life outside the school gates, or risk wasting their talents," said John Cridland, director-general of the CBI.
"We're hearing the right noises from politicians of all colours, but the need for genuine reform on the ground remains.
"We need young people who are rigorous, rounded and grounded, and business stands ready to play its part."
The research revealed that firms want primary schools to focus on developing literacy and numeracy (85%) with around one-third not satisfied with these skills among school leavers.
Half (52%) are urging schools to develop a greater awareness of working life among 14 to 19-year-olds with support from businesses.
The study also found that companies are prepared to play their part with two-thirds (66%) willing to take on a larger role in the school careers system.
The findings comes after the Business Secretary Vince Cable warned the markets that the country's skills gap is "crippling" the country's manufacturing sector.
The senior Liberal Democrat MP told delegates at a Department for Business Manufacturing summit in New Brighton, Merseyside that his ministry was attempting to resolve the issue.
"The problem which is growing, is the problem of skills - we just don't have the right level of people at all stages [who have the abilities employers need]," Cable said.
"We've got a gap already. We've got people approaching retirement who have got to be replaced, this is potentially a crippling handicap unless we get on top of it."
Cable explained the government is addressing the problem by, among other things, putting more emphasis on apprenticeships which are employer-led.