Employers rate a good work ethic above skills when looking to recruit for 'entry level' posts, according to a think tank.
A study by The Centre for Social Justice found 82% of employers looked for a good work ethic when taking people on, in comparison to 38% who rated literacy and numeracy skills.
The think tank said a poor attitude towards work among the long-term jobless was a major barrier to tackling unemployment.
Some 62% of employers said they had turned down applicants for unskilled jobs in sectors such as catering, manufacturing and retailing, because of a poor work attitude and ethic, in comparison to 29% who said their decision was based on a lack of skills.
The think tank said a fourth 'R' - responsibility - should be taught alongside the core subjects at school.
'Entry level' jobs make up about a third of the total UK workforce but many companies choose to take on migrant workers over British nationals because of their better work ethic, the report said.