The research was commissioned and released by the Learning and Skills Council to coincide with publication of the A-level results. It shows that people with the equivalent of a higher national diploma earn over 50 per cent more than those with no qualifications and 30 per cent more than A-level leavers.
John Harwood, chief executive of the council, said: "Sadly, while almost half of the population attain A-levels or their equivalent, only just over a quarter progress to the next level."
The link between qualifications and income had even wider implications, improving the economy and overall spending power, he said. "We want more young people to see these qualifications as a launch pad for further learning."