More than four-fifths of school leavers seeking an apprenticeship are unsuitable for employment, according to a major firm.

Young people often have a poor attitude, wholly unrealistic expectations and are shocked at working hours, according to a training group owned by car dealer Arnold Clark.

Some college courses designed to improve their chances amount to no more than "state-sponsored babysitting".

The description was set out in a report to Holyrood's Finance Committee which is investigating how to improve employability.

The report stated: "It is desperately sad and thoroughly disheartening to hear professional recruiters with 20-plus years experience of employing schools leavers describe young Scots as unsuitable for employment. Yet that was the case for 81% of our applicants.

"We acknowledge that we may well be recruiting at the lower end of the achievement spectrum and so it might be better to view us as a highly effective safety net, saving almost 20% from lifetime unemployment. But we really do believe that more can be achieved for the unsaved majority with intelligent and innovative interventions provided there is the political will to effect change."

The report was lodged by GTG Training, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arnold Clark.

Since 2009, 10% of the dealership's apprentice intake has been targeted at the most seriously disadvantaged youngsters.

There were 3,810 inquiries for the modern apprenticeship programme last year, leading to 2,280 formal applications.

Of those, 430 were deemed employable and 121 were given a job.

A total of 1,850 were considered "not employable at all".

The single biggest issue for transition from school to work is a discrepancy in working hours, GTG Training said.

Apprentices consistently described a maximum 18 hours in class each week, with extended holidays and little or no access to extra curricular activities.

The report continued: "Those who transit to further education college rather than work re-emerge into the economy one or more years later with a further deterioration in concept of 'working week' and we are increasingly concerned at the state sponsored babysitting nature of some college programmes rather than the specifically targeted vocational training for near-guaranteed employment we believe tax payers money should be being spent on."

Suggestions for improvement include giving school leavers access to arts groups, rather than academic or business intervention.

The report stated: "As a business we are now sponsoring organisations such as Scottish Opera and the Citizens Theatre where we can see active engagement with both youth and seriously disadvantaged individuals from all age groups.

"We think there is a significant role for Creative Scotland to direct Government towards sensible opportunities for the public purse to be used similarly."

The report is due to be considered by the committee tomorrow.

Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance said: "I've met with Arnold Clark and would welcome another meeting to discuss all that we are doing to tackle youth unemployment and ensure young people are ready for work.

"It is wrong to generalise all young people. I meet many employers and young people with very positive experiences. Indeed, the most recent and comprehensive study shows that more than two-thirds of employers in Scotland are satisfied with the skills and abilities of young people.

"Of course, I know that more can be done, despite the Westminster cuts to our Budget. This is why we are investing £1.5 billion a year in post-16 education and training to fund our delivery of record numbers of modern apprenticeships, training places, Opportunities for All and to prioritise college places for young people.

"But I have to say that I absolutely agree with Arnold Clark's wish to see skills and training provision that is even better aligned with what employers and the economy needs.

"That aim is at the very heart of our current post-16 reform programme. And to that end I want to continue to meet, listen and engage with Scotland's employers, like Arnold Clark, who have an interest in supporting our young people and giving them the vital work experience needed to establish their future careers and support Scotland's economy."