The report, Inspiring Growth, found that the majority of businesses are concerned about the preparation of school leavers in important areas including business and customer awareness (66%), self-management (61%) and foreign language skills (60%).
More than a third of companies (37%) preferred their recruits to hold a mix of both academic and vocational qualifications, while a further 37% valued academic and vocational qualifications equally.
The report coincides with the summer budget, in which chancellor George Osborne re-emphasised the Conservative party’s commitment to generating three million apprenticeship placements over the next parliamentary terms by introducing an apprenticeship levy on large firms.
CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said the apprenticeship reforms are a step in the right direction. “Nearly two-thirds of the employers who replied? to our survey plan to start apprenticeship programmes or expand their existing? ones – the highest proportion since these surveys began in 2008,” she said.
“But quality must not be sacrificed for quantity – and we need a laser-like focus on driving up the number of higher apprenticeships, which still only accounted for 2% of total starts in 2014.”
The CBI describes the skills shortage as an “emergency”, with the research finding that demand for higher-level skills is expected to be most prominent in sectors such as construction (+73%), manufacturing and engineering (+69%), and the science and hi-tech industries (+52%).