It reveals a lack of optimism among Neets - those not in education, employment, or training - with high numbers saying that they feel like their potential is being wasted, and like they are not part of society.
The survey, commissioned by the University and College Union (UCU), also reveals that Neets are spending months out of work and education, with some in this situation for years.
Almost nine in 10 (88%) of the 1,000 Neets questioned said they want to be in work or studying, the poll found, while seven in 10 (71%) said that, with the right help, they could contribute a lot to this country.
The poll shows that many are concerned about their future, with more than half (54%) saying that their potential is being wasted, just under half (46%) suggesting that they feel in control of how their life will turn out and two in five (40%) admitting that they feel as if they are not part of society.
Over a third (36%) of the 16 to 24-year-old Neets surveyed said that they feel they have no chance of ever getting a job. More than half (54%) of the young people polled said they had been Neet for a year or more, with 26% of those questioned saying they have been in this category for over three years.
Nearly half (46%) said that they would like help to boost their confidence to help them find a job or training, and 29% wanted good advice about applying for jobs.
UCU president Simon Renton said: "This report lays bare the deep personal impact that sustained unemployment has on young people. It is truly heartbreaking to see so many people who want to contribute more to society but are left feeling their outlook is desperate and hopeless. The individual human tragedy is only part of the story as young people outside education or work cost the country millions of pounds every year. We need to give our young people a commitment of proper guidance and stable, properly rewarded jobs, or educational opportunities.
"This will mean central and local government, employers, schools, colleges and universities working together. It will cost money, but the alternative is to consign hundreds of thousands of young people to the scrapheap and leave society to pick up the both the social and economic bills caused by their inactivity."