Research showed that the proportion of employees in the UK carrying out work that requires some form of official certification has doubled over the last 15 years.
One in five workers in Britain are now required, according to the research.
And significantly more occupations are regulated in the UK than in France, Italy and Belgium, it added.
Details of the explosion in workplace red tape were revealed in the report published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market policy think tank based in Westminster.
It warned that the regulation was restricting job growth, forcing up prices and blocking many competent workers from possible employment opportunities.
Ministers should launch a blitz to cut back the widespread use of licencing schemes to boost the economy, the report said.
Report author Len Shackleton, head editorial research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “It is disturbing to realise that more occupations in the UK are now regulated than in France or Italy – countries which are typically associated with heavy employment regulation.
“The government should open up occupations to greater competition and thus boost productivity.”
The report, entitled: “Conspiracy Against The Public? Occupational Regulation in the UK”, argued that officials too frequently reacted to accidents or other mishaps by introducing new regulatory bodies.
Instead, it argued that more responsibility should be placed on employers to regulate quality and determine the qualifications necessary to work.
Registration schemes open to anyone of good character and financial probity were likely to be less restrictive than licensing, which often required formal qualifications, years of supervised work experience, testing and often significant payment, said the report.
Technological change had reduced the need for complex skills in many areas, Prof Shackleton said.
His report listed art therapists, taxi drivers and farriers as jobs currently requiring licences where an overhaul in workplace rules could lead to a better deal for consumers.
Allowing consumers to do more for themselves online with professional advice rather than employing licenced workers could bring about a major productivity boost for the UK economy, he argued.
“Occupational regulation is usually justified by the need to protect an uninformed public from harm caused by incompetent or unscrupulous practitioners,” his report said.
“However regulation has increased at a time when consumer information has been expanding rapidly and there are new ways of ensuring quality and value for money.”
It added: “Regulation and licensing is sometimes a knee-jerk response to a sudden problem rather than a thought-through policy.
“And often occupational organisations themselves are the driving force for regulation as a means of keeping out competition.”