Too many young people have a "sloppy attitude" to time-keeping, are overly relaxed about meeting deadlines and fail to dress and speak properly for work, Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned.
The head of Ofsted said employers believe that far too many school leavers have not been taught the right skills, attitudes and behaviours needed for the working world.
His comments come as the inspectorate published a report on new study programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds, which are intended to give young people tailored education and training alongside decent work experience and preparation for employment.
It found that while careers advice and guidance is essential, too much of what was on offer for young people about the range of options open to them was not up to scratch.
And the report also concluded that in some cases there was a lack of good work experience.
Speaking as the report was published, Sir Michael said: "I am particularly concerned that education and training is not preparing young people well enough for work.
"Many employers complain that far too many young people looking for work have not been taught the skills, attitudes and behaviours they need to be successful in the world of work – what does this mean?
"It means that they have a sloppy attitude to punctuality. It means they are far too relaxed in terms of meeting deadlines to produce work. It means that far too many young people are lackadaisical in the way they present themselves for work.
"If they dress inappropriately, speak inappropriately and have poor social skills, they are not going to get a job.
"Youth unemployment in our country is far too high, and it is in everyone's interest to make sure that young people receive the very best education and training to improve this situation."