Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised a programme of “lifetime skills” for adults with lower educational qualifications.
The promise is coming as Britain braces for rising unemployment under the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson warned that more jobs are likely to be lost but said the government would help redundant workers to “get the skills they need” through a “lifetime skill guarantee.”
“As the chancellor (Rishi Sunak) has said, we cannot, alas, save every job,” he said in advance excerpts of a speech to be delivered later Tuesday.
“What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs,” Johnson added.
Adults without post-16 qualifications will have the chance to take “free college courses valued by employers,” with “flexible loans” for other courses.
Johnson said the programme would ensure that “everyone has the chance to train and retrain.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the plan was “an important step forward.”
“The significant unemployment coronavirus is leaving in its wake only accelerates the need for people to develop new skills and adapt to new ways of working,” Fairbairn said.
Sunak last week said the government would subsidise “viable jobs” in small and medium-sized firms for six months from November by paying two-thirds of wages lost as a direct result of the pandemic.
Social distancing measures in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections “pose a threat to (Britain’s) fragile economic recovery,” he told parliament.