Nearly three-quarters of 16 to 21-year-olds, all of whom are still in full-time education, said they would expect a future employer to train them to increase their chances of promotion and help their career.
The survey has been carried out to coincide with Investors In People week. IIP was launched by the Government five years ago to encourage firms to train staff, but the survey revealed that many employers do not have a proper strategy with some chief executives unaware of how much their companies invest in staff.
Just 11 per cent said the amount they spend on training is determined by business needs while 47 per cent said it is geared to the requirements of staff. A report by management consultants Coopers Lybrand, who carried out the survey with IIP UK, set up three years ago to promote the standard, said the way cash was allocated cast doubt on the seriousness with which companies view investing in employees.
The consultants talked to 75 chief executives, 11 of whose companies have gained the IIP standard, intended to demonstrate a commitment to employee training. Nearly 900 employees and 851 young people who were yet to get jobs were also interviewed.
Sixty-five per cent of young people believed it would be hard to find work and most wanted a secure position. Mary Chapman, IIP UK's chief executive, said they had been influenced by seeing parents and older friends struggle through the recession. Given a choice of job, however, they would opt for an employer who would train them.
"They are very concerned about longer-term development and attach strong importance to having the opportunity to gain qualifications which will stand them in good stead during later life," she said.
More than half of the young people had previously had a part or full-time job, but only a fifth had had a work placement while at school or college. Two-thirds had received careers guidance.
Four out of every five chief executives agreed that investment in staff would give their companies a competitive edge. But only 25 to 30 per cent could visibly be seen to be investing in training.
While 76 per cent of firms thought training was important, only 27 per cent saw the need to provide workers with skills which would make them attractive to other companies. The report notes that employers "do not seem to see themselves as part of a bigger picture of shared enlightened self-interest in the investment needed to expand the overall stock of crucial and portable skills".
To gain the IIP standard, companies must prove that they regularly evaluate their employees' training needs. A total of 4,200 companies and other organisations have the standard with a further 20,500 working towards it. Together this covers about 27 per cent of the working population.
Among the public sector organisations to achieve IIP are more than 400 schools and 182 colleges, about two-thirds of which are in the FE sector. As training providers, said Ms Chapman, FE colleges appreciated the value of external recognition. "If the services you are offering are in the area of training and development, you want to demonstrate that you are an exemplar of good practice. "