Business leaders are looking for a strong set of basic skills and a good attitude to work when they hire for their companies, a study has revealed.
The Forum of Private Business's (FPB) latest member survey on employment and skills revealed that 63 per cent of firms see the right attitude as the key requirement for workers.
And around half of those surveyed said that basic skills - such as numeracy and literacy - are important when taking on a new member of staff.
Phil Orford, chief executive at the FPB, suggested that in many cases, employers are coming across candidates who do not have these fundamental qualities.
He noted that a "frequent complaint" from employers concerns the lack of job-ready skills and a work ethic among school leavers.
"Time after time, this type of study identifies a lack of employment-ready youngsters," Mr Orford stated.
"Above all else, employers need, but often can't find, youngsters ready to hit the ground running – starting with a positive work ethic."
The FPB survey suggests that young people may continue to have difficulties to finding work unless they can sell themselves better to prospective employers.
This is because many small businesses are waiting for employment costs to come down and profit margins to go up before they take on more staff.
Almost one in three (29 per cent) described the former as ‘crucial' before they would recruit, while 25 per cent said the same about the latter.
In many cases, businesses are trying to strike a balance between achieving company growth, and keeping spending on a tight leash.
"Many firms are holding back on recruitment until after next April when the new measures take effect and NI costs drop," Mr Orford claimed
"We can also see that a significant number of employers are waiting for a marked change in profit levels - and therefore significant economic growth - before they consider taking on more staff."
He noted that most forecasts are not pointing to that type of growth in the UK until much later in the year.
"Put those two notions together and the suggestion is that the 2013 job figures are going to remain pretty subdued for some time yet, and quite possibly even in to early next year before there's any meaningful downward trend in unemployment," the FPB chief warned.
As such, Mr Orford said there is a "pressing need" for government to do more to reduce the cost of employment, to incentivise small businesses to employ.
"We said after the Budget the Employment Allowance was a great move, but that it was too far off with the economy still in the doldrums. This research seems to suggest we had a point," he added.
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Posted by Jenny Arthur