Two-thirds of UK firms would hire a school-leaver with two years’ experience over a graduate, according to a new survey of 400 companies.
The survey commissioned by the bank Santander found the result rose to almost three-quarters when just businesses among the businesses surveyed that employ 50 people or fewer.
The finding came as research commissioned by Labour from the House of Commons library showed that the thousands of students who are set to miss out on a place at university when A-level results are published on Thursday face paying an average of £15,000 extra if they reapply next year when higher fees come in.
Up to 100,000 students with good grades are likely to miss out on a university place this year, amid fierce competition. According to the research, around 40% are expected to reapply next year, when they will face higher fees. Competition for places will be intense.
The squeeze on places has led to greater scrutiny of alternatives to higher education, including company training programmes that accept school-leavers.
Andrew Cook, country general manager for recruitment consultancy Kelly Services, said the findings of the business survey revealed that "formal education was less important than work experience".
All the managers and directors quizzed for the poll were involved in recruiting new staff. The firms came from diverse sectors, including IT, manufacturing, education and financial services.
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