While two-thirds of employers consider skills development to be a high priority within their organisations one-third do not provide any formal training for their staff, a study of 13,000 UK companies has found.
The research, released to coincide with the announcement of new sector skills agreements, also found that over half of employers felt the education system failed to equip people with all the skills they need to start work.
While four out of five businesses said they recruited people who do not have the right skills for the job.
The research from the Sector Skills Development Agency comes as employers and education providers release the first details of an employer-led approach to improve skills through new sector skills agreements.
The agreements have come from four of the 22 sector skills councils, SEMTA (covering science, engineering and manufacturing technologies) e-skills UK (IT, telecoms and contact centres); Skillset (audio visual industries) and Construction Skills.
Margaret Salmon, chair of the Sector Skills Development Agency, said: "We have all worked together to identify what skills are needed at all levels from apprenticeships and craft skills through to management and leadership. And then decided where, and how to meet them.
"The core skills needs and requirements of employers have been identified based on their experience as well as labour market information and other research. Our partners in the education sector have used this information to focus on what they can do to tackle these issues, for instance by re-designing course syllabuses or changing qualifications and the way these are delivered. Funding bodies have agreed to the changes needed to facilitate these improvements."