Scruffy school leavers are damaging their chances of getting a job because of a lack of basic skills, Gloucester business leaders have said.
Mark Owen, chairman of the federation of small businesses in the south west and Gloucestershire visits schools to pass on tips to future employees.
He said: “As an older generation, we have failed young people as some have lost the value of good manners, good time keeping and good presentation.
"The schools have to take on some of the responsibility.
"Businesses can form a pre-conception of the quality of the school by how smart their pupils are.
"It does not go for all young people, but some do not know how to dress for a job interview or how to present themselves to prospective employers.
"It is holding back business and will make it harder for them to get a job. In a tough market, the best candidates will stand out.”
Mark, who runs Moose Marketing and PR in Gloucester took on 12 work experience youngsters last year.
An urgent plea for more to be done to close the skills gap with other countries will be made at the annual conference of the Federation of Small Businesses in London tomorrow.
National policy chairman Mike Cherry, whose organisation represents nearly 200,000 smaller companies, said: ‘We have been trailing behind in business globally for far too long because of the skills shortage.
“It is probably the most serious issue facing firms. It’s been an issue for many, many years.
“The low standard of numeracy and literacy skills is a huge problem as is employability.
“Many young people are just not prepared for the workplace in their attitude or dress.
“Careers advice is missing in many areas, while enterprise should be taught in schools.”
Earlier this year the head of the education body Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said trainee teachers were being sent into classrooms not knowing how to dress or behave appropriately.