McKinsey and Company, the global consulting firm, surveyed more than 8,000 education providers, employers, and young people across nine countries.
Education to Employment: designing a system that works argues that education systems are failing to prepare young people for work.
Only 43 percent of employers surveyed agreed that they could find enough skilled entry-level workers, it says, yet an estimated 75 million young people are unemployed across the world.
The survey - conducted in Turkey, India, Brazil, the US, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the UK and Morocco - asked young people why they had not pursued post-secondary education or training.
Thirty-five per cent of young people surveyed in the UK said that they could not afford to, compared with 18 per cent for India, 20 per cent in Turkey, and 24 per cent in Mexico.
The average was 31 per cent; the US was judged to be the most unaffordable place to continue studying with 48 per cent citing cost as the reason they had not taken up further education or training.
Young people in the UK were much more likely to say that they were not interested in further education or training than respondents from other countries.
However, the report also found that young people from the UK were best informed when it came to making choices about their education.
Sixty-seven per cent of respondents from the UK said that an academic path was more valued by society than a vocational one, compared with just 49 per cent of Germans.
On the employers side, those from the UK were the second least likely to say that lack of skills was a common reason for entry-level vacancies.
Thirty per cent of UK employers said this was a problem, compared with an average of 39 per cent. In the United States the figure was 45 per cent.
Just four out of ten young people in the UK said that their education after secondary school had improved their chances of getting a job, a lower proportion than any other country.
However, “most research shows that further education makes economic sense”, the report says.