The findings from a survey of 500 UK employers have prompted calls for universities to reconsider their role in developing attitudes that will help students to “excel in the commercial world”.
The poll, conducted by recruitment firm Adecco, also found concern among employers over a lack of skills among graduates.
Four in 10 said graduates lacked critical IT skills, while a quarter claimed recruits lacked basic literacy and numeracy.
Comparing 25- and 40-year-olds, employers ranked younger workers much less favourably on timekeeping, productivity, teamwork, working long hours, loyalty to their employer, and “going the extra mile”.
Chris Moore, managing director of Adecco Group Solutions, argued that “financial acumen, communications techniques and a full appreciation of the attitude required to excel in the commercial world must now form a core part of curricula”.
“Although extremely valuable, a strong academic record is no longer a sufficient prerequisite for entry into today’s working environment,” he said.
“Employers now hold attitude and personality (91 per cent) in greater esteem than academic or even vocational qualifications (35 per cent) when assessing new recruits.”