Personality is more important to employers than ability with words or numbers, it has been claimed.
The latest Labour Market Outlook survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and accountancy firm KPMG shows that 'soft skills' like personality, work ethic and communication skills are more important to employers than literacy and numeracy.
As a result Rebecca Clake, organisation and resourcing adviser at the CIPD, believes that employers should consider introducing oral-based tests and work experience schemes in order to help them recruit staff with the right 'soft skills' for the job.
"Such changes may benefit boys in particular who are seen as having weaker communication skills – which may explain why employers are more likely to rate girls more highly than boys at work after leaving school," Ms Clake said.
"It has become almost an annual ritual to focus on the literacy and numeracy of school leavers – but our research shows employers want more focus on communication, interpersonal skills and developing a work ethic."
Britain's job market is becoming increasingly competitive thanks to growing sources of labour – from the increasing retiring age, workers from the EU and efforts to convince long-term incapacity benefit claimants to return to work.
"Students, schools and employers need to work together to ensure that school leavers are ready for work," Department of Education (DoE) minister Bill Rammell said.
"And the students themselves need to be prepared to keep engaging in lifelong learning to keep their skills up to date and attractive to employers," he added.