More than 60 per cent of employers have difficulty recruiting people with the right skills for the job, research reveals.
And a quarter of the employers surveyed believe that the skills gap is making it difficult to drive their businesses forward by improving products or services.
The survey of more than 13,000 employers was conducted for Skills for Business, which represents the sector skills councils. It has launched a major campaign highlighting the relationship between skills and productivity.
Roger Putnam, chairman of car manufacturer Ford's British operations, said:
"We believe real value comes from offering our customers the best possible service. We achieve this by training not only our own staff, but also those of our dealers."
Philip Williamson, chief executive of the Nationwide, said: "We've proven that the more committed our employees are to the business, the better they become at delivering great customer service."