A third of companies say they are unhappy about graduates’ attitudes to work and their “self-management and resilience”, new figures show.
The report from the CBI and education publisher Pearson said universities – as well as schools – should be helping students develop in these key areas as well as academically.
Employers’ worries about a lack of sufficiently qualified recruits to fill high-skilled roles were also highlighted in the poll.
The education and skills survey questioned 344 companies and looked at issues relating to school leavers and college and technical education and apprenticeships as well as graduate recruitment.
It found that areas where graduate job seekers were “widely seen as having weaknesses” included levels of international cultural awareness – where 39% of firms were dissatisfied – and customer awareness – where 40% were unhappy.
The report added: “Perhaps of even greater concern is that a third of businesses (32%) voice dissatisfaction with graduates’ attitudes and behaviours of self-management and resilience.
“Higher education should be well positioned to help students develop in these areas, recognising their importance for future success in life and work.”
It said there were excellent career prospects for graduates “provided they are equipped with the right attitudes, skills and knowledge to take advantage of those opportunities”.
The poll also found that 75% of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled number of roles they have over coming years, but 61% fear a lack of sufficiently-skilled people to fill them.
It also showed continuing concern about the lack of skilled candidates and that careers advice given to young people was “overwhelmingly poor”.
CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “Quality of teaching, learning and careers inspiration defines the life chances of young people – it’s a shared challenge for us all.”
The Department for Education said it had set out the need for “a skills revolution for success in Brexit Britain” but acknowledged more needed to be done to improve technical education.