Small business bosses would prefer older, experienced staff to younger employees who they view as dissatisfied and less loyal, research suggests.

Almost a third of SME bosses cited workers in their forties as being the hardest working age group, according to a study by Abbey Business Banking.

Next in line was those in their thirties (24 per cent) and then individuals in their twenties (14 per cent).

Just over one-in-three (34 per cent) of bosses described young people as "average" workers and only 19 per cent described them as being "above average".

Slightly less than a third (29 per cent) described younger job candidates as either "not good" or "poor". SME bosses voice further concerns over the dearth of young talent that they could recruit, with only 36 per cent believing that they were content, 42 per cent that they are loyal and 47 per cent that they are hard working.

Ian Wilson, managing director of Abbey Business, said: "This research demonstrates the challenges Britain's SME bosses have when sourcing the appropriate talent for their business.

"It appears that more experienced workers in their 30s and 40s are deemed the most attractive for SME bosses.

"People who run their own company often seem to expect more from their staff as they have a huge vested interest in the success of the business."