The private sector has shown great resilience in recent months in continuing to provide new jobs in a difficult economy, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

However, there are still a number of barriers which are preventing greater numbers of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from finding employment, the organisation claims.

Its latest Employment Trends Survey found that 35 per cent of UK businesses expect their workforce to be larger in 12 months time than it is currently, while 15 per cent predict they will be smaller, giving a balance of +20 per cent.

“The performance of our flexible labour market in generating jobs in a sluggish economy is a mini-miracle,” said Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director.

“Businesses look set to continue with the positive but cautious approach to hiring that we’ve seen over the past couple of years.”

However, the survey also identified several barriers that are preventing the greater inclusion in the workplace of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Almost six in ten employers (59 per cent) identified a lack of understanding of workplace behaviours as a major barrier, the same number said a lack of basic numeracy and literacy skills is holding people back and 57 per cent of employers identified a lack of aspiration as a significant problem.

The survey also found that 53 per cent of businesses perceive a lack of role models to be preventing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfilling their potential.

“While the jobs figures tell a promising story, too many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not getting jobs because – as the survey shows – job creation at a skilled level requires skills and attitudes which we do not help them to develop,” said Ms Hall.

She claimed that the key to overcoming these barriers is for businesses to play a greater role in the training and development of young people from an early age.

“While businesses are already active in this area, providing work experience and partnering with local schools, there is more to be done if we are to tackle the gap in aspiration and opportunities facing some young people,” she said.