GIRLS from disadvantaged backgrounds are picking post-16 courses which can lead them to lower-paid work.

Regardless of how good their GCSE grades were, they are most likely to opt for courses which will see them working in the UK’s lower paid jobs including retail, childcare and social care, according to a report from the Social Mobility Commission.

Disadvantaged males were more likely to pick technical subjects such as engineering and IT which could lead to higher earnings.

Disadvantaged young white British women along with both disadvantaged men and women from black Caribbean backgrounds were the most likely to take low-earning courses, according to co-author Dr Luke Sibieta.

It looked at the course selection of students who finished their GCSEs in England between 2001-02 and 2004-05 and tracked their earnings up to the age of 30.

Only 27 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men from disadvantaged black Caribbean backgrounds had taken courses that led to the top 50 per cent of earnings.

There were 24 per cent of disadvantaged white-British women who picked courses that led to salaries in the top half, which compares with 33 per cent of disadvantaged white-British men.

Dr Sibieta said the courses youngsters take as 16-year-olds can have “a large bearing on their future economic opportunities”.

Work needs to be done to tackle inequalities in educational results, to provide effective careers guidance and positive role models before they reach that age, he added.

The researchers found that 80 per cent of A-level courses could be linked to well-paid careers in the top 25 per cent of earnings.

Those who opted for a mix of an academic and technical qualification could be among the 70 per cent workers with combined courses which ranked in the top 50 per cent of earnings.

The report states: “It’s more important than ever to consider how students from all backgrounds can access high quality academic and technical education, due to the severe disruption to their schooling and the level of economic shock experienced during the pandemic.”

Alastair Da Costa, the social mobility commissioner for adult skills and further education, described the gender pay gap between disadvantaged men and women as “stark”.

He said: “There is no doubt growing up in deprivation, especially for women, has an enduring impact on early career earnings.

“It is particularly worrying that women appear to choose subjects that lead them to a smaller wage packet than men.”

More career guidance on technical education choices and advice on higher level courses before the age of 16 are among the suggestions in the report about how to try and narrow the gaps which spring from course selection.

Helping disadvantaged students with travel costs and increasing the pay for childcare and adult social care work could also be considered.