The CBI has sent a brief to its 3,000 members outlining Britain's relatively poor standards in literacy and numeracy, and is supporting the Government's new targets for 11-year-olds.
Sir Dominic Cadbury, chairman of the CBI's education and training committee, said: "I am very encouraged by the commitment of everyone in education to work together to achieve high performance. However, without excellent primary education we are building our learning society on sand. Poor performers at age 11 can fail to catch up and fulfil their potential before entering the world of work."
Sixty per cent of primary schools have business links, but the CBI wants to include all by 2000.
Tony Webb, the CBI's director of education and training, said people in business could help schools raise standards by giving talks on the world of work; becoming governors; providing materials; and helping heads make decisions.