UK seeks to boost job training to help workforce recover from COVID-19

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Britain will launch training options for adults to learn new skills in an effort to boost productivity and help the country recover from the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate, already at over 4%, is expected to rise further as a job subsidy scheme put in place early in the pandemic expires next month to be replaced by a scaled-back job support programme.

“We cannot, alas, save every job. What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs,” Johnson will say in a speech, according to excerpts sent by his office.

“We’re transforming the foundations of the skills system so that everyone has the chance to train and retrain.”

The measures will include funding to allow adults without qualifications to take certain college courses without paying fees, as well as flexible loans allowing people to space out their study and transfer credits between colleges.

The government will also seek to boost the number of apprenticeships, with more funding for small and medium firms taking on apprentices, and will extend a pilot programme known as digital skill boot camps to new locations.

The number of people doing vocational training has been falling over the past two decades, the government said, adding that 10% of adults in Britain held a higher technical qualification as their highest qualification, compared with 20% in Germany and 34% in Canada.

British businesses have complained for a long time of a shortage of skills in the workforce, and the country’s productivity has persistently been lower than in some comparable economies.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Lisa Shumaker