A rapid decline in mid-wage jobs is forcing many people to compete for low-wage work, risking waning social mobility as workers often get stuck on low salaries, according to a report published by The Work Foundation.

Mid-wage workers who were once employed in, for example, office administration or factory assembly roles, are being left with little option but to take on lower-waged, lower-skilled work as domestic cleaners, food service handlers or customer service advisors.

The Work Foundation research reveals that office administration and secretarial posts, which have traditionally been dominated by women, have been declining over the past ten years. This is in contrast to lower-waged ‘caring service’ occupations which are on the rise (see figure 2). Meanwhile, middle-waged roles such as plant processing and metal machinist jobs, which tend to be dominated by men, are disappearing due to technological advances.

The middle of the job market has been squeezed for over a decade, with strong growth in professional employment and in some lower paying jobs. These changes have caused the labour market to become increasingly hourglass- shaped as the middle continues to hollow out.

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the Private Equity Foundation which supports disadvantaged young people and is a sponsor of The Bottom Ten Million programme, said: “With such a challenging employment outlook, understanding what jobs are available in the labour market is key to helping disadvantaged young people enter the world of work and reach their full potential. The issue of around one million young people not in education, employment or training needs urgent attention.”