More than half of employers questioned in a national survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) regard graduates they employed as either 'average' to 'poor' in terms of numeracy and literacy. And just under half rated their oral skills too as 'average' to 'poor'.
The survey by the FPB, which champions the cause of more than 25,000 firms nationwide, revealed that employers rated graduate recruits even more scathingly in terms of their overall readiness for the workplace.
Over half of employers thought graduates were 'average' to 'poor' when it came to time keeping or taking a phone message, and 72% graded graduates as either 'average' or 'poor' when assessing their ability to address a letter properly.
Meanwhile over 39% rated graduates' standards of general courtesy towards colleagues or customers as 'average' to 'poor'.
"This shows that basic educational and social skills of graduates - who should be the educational cream of our younger generation - are mediocre when it comes to them being prepared for earning a living," said the FPB's chairman Len Collinson, who is the owner-manager of a number of small companies.
"It is worrying to see that the lack of basic skills is not just confined to school leavers. It supports our view that universities should provide real opportunities for students to learn about preparing for the world of work."