Work visits result in fewer young 'Neets'
Young people who have regular contacts with employers while at school are much less likely to become so-called Neets - "not in education, employment or training", according to research.
The findings, from the Education and Employers charity, suggest a long-term benefit of links with business.
But the research found that employers' involvement was stronger in independent and grammar schools.
The charity's head Nick Chambers says "we need to level the playing field".
The research found if students had four or more contacts with employers before they left school they would be 86% less likely to become a Neet.
On average, pupils had fewer than two such employer links while at school - which could be visits from employers, job shadowing or placements in the workplace.
'Ladder of opportunity'
The availability of contact with employers was skewed towards better-off pupils.
And it meant that disadvantaged pupils were more likely to miss out on such insights into the world of work.
Those who were least likely to have such links with employers were those on free meals and whose parents had low levels of education.
It reflects warnings from the Social Mobility Commission that professional families and the schools they attend are much more effective at using social connections to get access to work experience.
"Those with greatest need to experience the world of work while in education received it least," said Dr Anthony Mann, the charity director of policy and research.
The study found a link between a positive experience of meeting employers at school with a more successful entry into the jobs market.
It was seen as being particularly useful for the type of "soft skills" of communication and social skills valued by employers.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said the report showed the importance of experiencing the "world of work" as part of careers advice.
He said it would help "young people make informed choices that will get them on to the ladder of opportunity and, ultimately, secure a fulfilling job".
"Employer engagement makes a huge difference to the lives of young people. We need to level the playing field by giving equal opportunities to millions of young people in non-selective schools," said Mr Chambers, chief executive of Education and Employers.
"We would like to see every employer provide time for their employees to go into schools, especially schools in deprived areas. That is where employer engagement will have the greatest impact."
Education and Employers' Inspiring Women project, about raising aspirations, has also been launched in China.
This is part of the Inspiring the Future scheme in which people from the world of work go into schools to talk about their jobs and raise awareness about possible future careers.