Most employers will not hire people with a criminal record, long-term sickness or history of drug or alcohol problems, new research has revealed.
The study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) surveyed 750 employers and found that 60% deliberately excluded people with certain characteristics, termed "core jobless" by the government, when they were recruiting.
Firms were more likely to consider migrant workers, lone parents or over 50-year-olds than anyone with a criminal record or a history of long-term sickness or homelessness.
Well over half of those questioned said nothing would persuade them to take on someone from the core jobless group.
Many employers said they had endured a bad previous experience of someone from the core jobless group.
John Philpott, chief economist of the CIPD, said: "Widespread reluctance on the part of employers to recruit the core jobless highlights the magnitude of the task facing the Government as it strives to get more economically inactive benefit claimants, especially those claiming Incapacity Benefit, off welfare and into work."
He added: "Government will have to reinvigorate its welfare to work agenda by making greater efforts to both improve the employability of the core jobless groups, and by addressing negative employer attitudes to people in these groups."