Schools should offer lessons on recruitment and interview techniques in a bid to help students to prepare for the world of work, according to business leaders.
Employers urged schools to do more to help young people find work amid warnings that youth unemployment and skills gaps are a "national embarrassment".
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that business and education were "worlds apart" when it comes to careers advice.
The study comes just days after Tim Oates, director of research at the exam board Cambridge Assessment, branded as "absurd" calls by business representatives that schools should make students "work ready".
The BCC also pressed for work skills such as communication and computer literacy to be embedded in the school curriculum.
The report, published ahead of the latest unemployment figures, said action was needed from schools, the Government and businesses.
John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: "Our latest research shows that businesses and schools are still worlds apart when it comes to getting young people ready for the world of work.
"Businesspeople across the UK believe that secondary schools need to do more to help young people transition into employment by ensuring that their students have the preparation that businesses truly value.
"High youth unemployment and business skills gaps are a cause for national embarrassment. Unless ministers allow schools to increase their focus on preparing students for the working world and businesses step up and do more to engage, inform and inspire, we could fail an entire generation of young people.
The survey of 3,200 businesses and 300 education leaders found a "mismatch" on the views of careers guidance.
Four out of five secondary schools believe they are effective at offering careers advice, but all businesses said the system needed to be reformed.
Responding to the survey, the NUT said it shared a number of the BCC's concerns, in particular their dismay at the high level of youth unemployment, and the complacency of Government in supporting young people.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary, said: "It is government policy and cuts which have stifled careers advice and rendered 14-19 education a muddle.
"It was the coalition Government, rather than schools, which chose to strip out work experience and work-related learning from the national curriculum for 14 to 16-year-olds.
"The Government should urgently review the availability of independent, impartial careers advice and guidance. It was their abolition of Connexions which contributed greatly to the current parlous state of careers services."