Adults in England without an A-level or equivalent qualification will be offered a fully-funded college course, Boris Johnson has announced.
Funding for courses offering “skills valued by employers” will be made available from next April.
In a speech, the prime minister said the government cannot “save every job” amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but wants to help people find new work.
Labour said the plans would not reverse the impact of “a decade of cuts”.
The announcement comes amid fears that unemployment is set to grow, as the economy slumps in the wake of the pandemic.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has said the unemployment rate could peak at between 9.7% to 13.2% in the next few years. The most recent rate – for May to July – is 4.1%.
In his speech, Boris Johnson said the pandemic had made shortcomings in the education and training system “painfully apparent”.
He said the changes would allow the country to “not just come through this crisis, but come back stronger”.
The offer of courses to adults without an A-level will be paid for from England’s National Skills Fund, which the Conservatives pledged to boost by £2.5bn during last year’s general election.
A full list of available courses will be announced next month.