Boris Johnson warned that due to the coronavirus pandemic and rapid economic change, large numbers of people will have to change jobs.
The Prime Minister tabled a package of measures to help people acquire new skills, including the promise of free courses for those who lack the appropriate A-level qualifications.
Mr Johnson said the coronavirus had accelerated the changes that were already taking place in retail and hospitality.
“Before Covid, people were buying more and more online and were already sending for food,” he said.
“But the crisis compressed this revolution.”
Under the plan, the new “Lifetime Skills Guarantee” would allow people to retrain the taxpayers’ costs.
“The UK economy is going through a big and rapid transition, driven by the Internet and remote communication capabilities,” said Johnson.
“But when old forms of employment fall away, new opportunities will open up at a dizzying speed – huge new sectors in which this country is already leading or can lead the world.”
When asked about warnings for retail jobs, the Prime Minister said, “I am not going to say that any particular sector is undergoing fatal or lethal changes. I am thinking of all the ways sectors will evolve.”
“But there will be changes. And not every job will be the same. “
Outlining the scale of the challenge, the Prime Minister said: “By 2030, 10 years from now, the vast majority of the workforce will be in employment.
“But a large number of them will have to change jobs – to change their skills – and at the moment when you are over 23 the state has practically no free education to help you.”
The range of free courses will be available in England from April and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund, which will be topped up with an additional £ 2.5 billion.
Currently, only people under the age of 23 qualify for a free first full level three qualification – this corresponds to an A level.
College loans will also be made more flexible so that adults and young people can skip their studies throughout their lives, and apprenticeships will be expanded.
In digital “boot camps”, employer-led, short, flexible training courses for adults are offered, which are combined with guaranteed interviews.
Mr Johnson said he wanted to end the “snooty” distinction between professional and academic qualifications as he recognized that other countries had outperformed the UK.
“Our economy has been rocked by Covid and the hand-to-mouth problems of the pandemic have painfully exposed the shortcomings of our labor market – and our education system,” he said in a speech in Exeter.
There was a “significant and growing minority” of people who left university to get undergraduate jobs and wondered if they had done the right thing.
“We seem to have too few of the right skills for the jobs our economy creates, and too many graduates with degrees that don’t give them the jobs they want,” he said.
The UK Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the government had “taken an important step towards a more agile adult skills system”.
BCC Human Resources Director Jane Gratton said, “The government’s renewed focus on FE, greater investments in technical and digital skills, and a more flexible skills system must go hand in hand with a high quality local delivery that is quick to respond to the growth of the business. “
The Director General of the Confederation of British Industries, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, said: “Retraining has already been a major priority for the UK.
“The significant unemployment that the coronavirus is leaving behind only accelerates the need for people to develop new skills and adapt to new ways of working.”