EMPLOYERS are missing out on vital skills because some young people have unrealistic expectations of the world of work, it is feared.

Some members of this "disillusioned demographic" are refusing to start at the bottom - ultimately fuelling youth unemployment and exacerbating skills shortages.

The warning comes from Dorset-based Smart Recruitment.

Locally, 18- to 24-year-olds represent one of the smallest categories among Smart's registered candidates.

Just 809 have registered from the start of the year to the middle of May.

Smart director Helen Stacey said: "Our first-hand experience of this demographic is that there is a real resistance to start at the bottom. Just 173 of the 809 are currently engaged on contracts.

"Students are coming out of higher or further education wanting sexy' jobs with even more attractive salaries and packages, and this simply isn't realistic.

"High expectations combined with fewer apprenticeships offered by employers see the majority of this demographic resisting available employment and awaiting the offer of their dream job, which sadly is rather unrealistic."

Youth unemployment is costing the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity. The Government pays out a further £20 million per week in Jobseekers Allowance. Collectively this represents £1.56 billion per year.

Smart aims to counter the problem by touring local schools and colleges with free employment advice.

Smart works with Dorset Enterprise & Skills to help motivate and educate the youth market before the students actively search for employment.

Helen said: "A strong economy and low unemployment, particularly in the South West, continue to mask the true cost of youth exclusion.

"With the right support this generation can make a significant contribution to the health of the UK economy."

Smart employs 70 staff with branches in Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Dorchester, Yeovil and Exeter.