The standard of school-leavers is so poor that one supermarket has sent back three-quarters of its recruits for "remedial pre-job training" before they start work. Morrisons, Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket with 135,000 employees, found that many of its applicants in Salford, Greater Manchester, lacked even the basic skills needed to stack shelves and serve customers. While some had a poor grasp of maths and English, others lacked simple skills such as turning up on time and making eye contact.
Well - it is Salford. But it was this gloss that struck me.
The warning will fuel concerns that schools are failing to teach the skills necessary for young Britons to find jobs, forcing firms to recruit migrant workers instead.
Now there's no doubt that our education system's been wrecked over the last 40 years, even as exam passes hit record levels. But I seem to recall that in the days before mass immigration, if you wanted to find a better candidate for a post you offered a higher wage - and that usually seemed to work.
My business contacts inform me that this business model is no longer in vogue for jobs at the lower end of the wage scale. Instead the "import someone better and cheaper" model reigns supreme.
But at the top end - say at board level - offering more money - lots and lots more money, the more the better - is still seen as the best way to attract a high-quality candidate. No UK or US bankers seem to think it's a good idea to get in, say, a Chinese CEO, despite the fact that they run the world's largest banks for salaries between 2% and 10% of US levels. Odd, that.
UPDATE - I disagree with young clever-clogs and Grabber look-alike Daniel Knowles when he says that "there are no jobs left for the dim" - there are plenty of them and they're all being done by immigrants. The thing is, no matter what the level of job - even shelf-stacker - the cleverer person's likely to do it better than the not so bright. Only in 'pure' manual jobs like fruit or vegetable picking does the intellectually-challenged employee get a level playing field - and that arduous work is done, if the fields around Bromsgrove and the gangmaster's white vans plying up and down the M5 from Brum are any guide, by an eclectic assortment of third-world chaps - beards and pugris at one end of the field, mustachios and bare heads at the other.
Of course, UK average intelligence would be higher if we hadn't been running a vast scheme, not of eugenics, but of dysgenics, for the last fifty years. Bright and conscientious women have been encouraged to go out and work, the not so bright and feckless have been encouraged with hard cash to stay at home and have lots of babies.