The Hays report, which surveyed 1,000 people aged between 18 and 54, found 18- to 24-year-olds were less optimistic than other age groups.
More than a tenth (14.7%) of 25- to 34-year-olds and 18% of 35- to 44-year-olds said they felt downbeat about their career prospects.
“The results of our survey show that optimism in the wider economy and jobs market is not yet translating to those just beginning their careers,” director at Hays Human Resources Barney Ely told HR magazine.
“More needs to be done by employers to support young people at this time, and ensure they have an accurate understanding of the career options open to them and the skills and qualifications they will need.
“HR has an important part to play in this, both to identify the skills and training that this age group needs to access these careers, and to help employers adapt to the expectations and motivations of this generation.”
The report highlights, according to Hays, how difficult many young people still find transitioning from student life to the workplace.
Hays UK & Ireland MD Nigel Heap added: “The 18- to 24-year-old age group will one day be leading the workforce and it is important that they start on the right path, so as not to delay their own potential and the future of the UK labour market.”