Entrepreneur and former Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis is calling on businesses to directly engage with young people throughout their education.
Speaking at a panel event to announce the launch of The Skills Show 2015, Mr Paphitis warned that the British economy could be seriously affected in the long-term by skills shortages if businesses don't do more.
Business needs to do more to get face to face with young people,” he said.
“We are constantly being told about skills shortages in key industry areas, but there are so many more career options available now than when I was young that it can be difficult to keep track. Rather than sitting back and waiting for young people to come to them, businesses have a responsibility to go out and engage directly with the workforce of tomorrow to inspire their careers choices and future employment paths.”
Matthew Bell from technology provider Autodesk agreed that younger people would be much better informed to make intelligent career choices if businesses were more engaging at an earlier stage.
He said: "Leaving careers choices to 16 is too late.
“Young people need to try lots of different experiences, and be shown future areas of growth when they are still progressing through the education system, so that they can ensure they have learned the skills that employers need by the time they leave school. Students need to be fully informed about all the opportunities available to them, so that they can make a considered decision about their future careers.”