The prime minister predicted that there will be “many, many” job losses as an “inevitable” result of the outbreak and the lockdown restrictions which have brought much of the economy to a halt over the past two and a half months.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing, he promised that ministers would take an “interventionist” approach to supporting jobs “as the months go by and the effect of this recession starts to bite”.
There was no immediate detail from Downing Street about what form Mr Johnson’s apprenticeship guarantee would take or who would be eligible for it.
The TUC last month called on the government to provide funding for a new jobs guarantee, providing a minimum six-month job with accredited training to as many as possible of those facing long-term unemployment because of the coronavirus downturn, prioritising under-25s unemployed for three or more months and over-25s out of work for over six months.
Mr Johnson was challenged at the coronavirus briefing over the prospect that the pandemic will leave a legacy of unemployment in the tens or hundreds of thousands
He replied: “I am afraid tragically there will be many, many job losses. That is just inevitable because of the effect of this virus on the economy and because of the shutdown that has taken place.”
And he promised: “We will be just as interventionist in the next phase, investing in the UK economy, investing in infrastructure, taking our country forward so that we bounce back as sharply and decisively as we can.”
Mr Johnson said that the risk of losing jobs and being out of work for a lengthy period was highest for young people.
And he said: “I think it’s going to be vital that we guarantee apprenticeships for young people.
“We have to look after people across the board, but young people in particular, I believe’ should be guaranteed an apprenticeship.”
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