Wednesday 3 June 2020 6:36 pm

Boris Johnson tells UK to brace for mass unemployment

Boris Johnson has warned of “many, many job losses” after the coronavirus crisis and has pledged to invest in retraining the UK’s young people.

The Prime Minister said high levels of unemployment, as a result of the crisis, was “inevitable” and that his government would be “activist and interventionist” in dealing with job losses.

Read more: Eurozone unemployment creeps up in April amid Covid-19 lockdown

The UK’s official unemployment rate is expected to rise substantially when new figures are released, after a 70 per cent increase in Universal Credit claims in April.

More job losses will likely follow when the government’s furlough scheme is lifted, with many companies using the programme tipped to not re-open.

The Times reported today that chancellor Rishi Sunak had begun to develop a jobs programme to deal with the fallout, which may include plans to retrain people for green jobs.

Johnson said today that he would guarantee apprenticeships for young people as a part of any jobs programme.

“There will be many, many job losses and that is just inevitable, because of the effect of the coronavirus on the economy and the shutdown that has taken place,” he said.

“In dealing with that, we will be as activist and interventionist as we have been throughout the lockdown.

“We will be just as interventionist in the next phase – investing in the UK economy, investing in infrastructure and taking our country forward so we bounce back as sharply and decisively as we can.”

During the last recession, Gordon Brown set up the Future Jobs Fund  in an attempt to get young people back to work after the 2008 financial crash.

The £1.3bn fund created 200,000 jobs that were partly subsidised by the government, with the programme emphasising skills and training.

Lord Alastair Darling, who was chancellor under Brown, addressed Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee today and emphasised the need for a programme similar to the Future Jobs Fund.

“If we can preserve jobs and can preserve, if you like, the economic fabric of our country then we should do everything we possibly can,” he said.

“If that’s not possible, let’s look at a range of possibilities that critically can get people back into work.”

Current Labour shadow chancellor told City A.M. last week that the government needed to place a greater emphasis on “upskilling and redeployment” in its economic response to the pandemic.

Read more: Priti Patel lays out details of 14-day quarantine plan

“I think there’s very little discussion in a UK context on the role of upskilling and redeployment as a result of this crisis,” Dodds said.

“That’s a real contrast between the UK and other countries, so I think that’s an area where we are working on, particularly developing skills for the future.”