A third of respondents claimed the skills gap was harming productivity, while 40% said that it was affecting customer services.
Two-fifths of the 735 organisations surveyed had serious concerns about the basic literacy skills of UK employees, with some staff unable to write in sentences, spell correctly or use accurate grammar.
Almost half (47%) of participating employers doubted they would find sufficiently skilled staff to meet their needs.
Speaking at the launch of the survey, education minister Bill Rammell acknowledged the “enormous challenge” facing UK businesses.
“Unless we can equip people with the education, skills and training needed to face up to the challenges, not only will they and their families suffer, but we as a country will fall behind,” he said.
Despite the negative response from employers, Rammell remained optimistic, insisting that the study found “no fundamental disagreement between the government, businesses and trade unions on what we should do”.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the survey served as a warning to the third of employers who refused to offer any training to their own staff.
“The CBI must look to its members and their poor track record of training throughout middle management, when it complains about a lack of skills.”