Workers are being forced to take lower skilled, worse-paid jobs such as cleaning because of a shift in the labour market, away from manufacturing, according to a new report.
The Work Foundation said there had been a rapid decline in so-called "mid-wage" jobs, forcing many people to get "stuck" on low salaries.
Jobs such as plant processing and metal machinists, usually held by men, are disappearing because of technological advances, while lower waged "caring" occupations are on the increase, according to the study.
Work Foundation researcher Dr Paul Sissons said: "In the recession and early recovery, high and low-waged occupations have faired better. Those losing middle-skilled jobs and bumping down into lower-wage work can experience both a loss of income and an under-utilisation of skills.
"It is also the case that workers who move into low-wage work often find it difficult to move up the career ladder. While for those with the fewest skills, the increased competition for low-wage jobs means many struggle to find employment at all.
"Given that low-waged, low-skilled jobs are an enduring feature of the labour market, boosting the potential for in-work social mobility should be a priority for policymakers.
"The Government should focus on encouraging employers to develop career ladders for employees and to support the long-term learning needs of workers so they can progress in their careers."