Boris Johnson today said there are too many university graduates with degrees that do not get them the jobs they want.
He made the comments during a speech about skills in Exeter in which he pledged to end the “pointless, nonsensical gulf” between the “so-called academic and so-called practical varieties” of education.
The Prime Minister said there was a shortage of “crucial skills” in the UK and a too heavy reliance on foreign workers for skilled and technical roles.
Mr Johnson said: “I don’t for a second want to blame our universities. I love our universities.
“But we also need to recognise that a significant and growing minority of young people leave university and work in a non-graduate job and end up wondering whether they did the right thing.
“Was it sensible to rack up that debt on that degree?
“Were they ever given a choice to look at the more practical options, the courses just as stimulating that lead more directly to well-paid jobs?”
He said on the one hand some have too few of the right skills for the jobs the economy creates, adding: “On the other hand too many graduates with degrees which don’t get them the jobs that they want.”
He also said: “Now is the time to end the pompous, snooty and frankly vacuous distinction between the practical and the academic.”
The Prime Minister said the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the “shortcomings” of the UK’s educational system and pledged to ensure there was “life-long” skills retraining opportunities.
He said there is a shortage of UK-trained lab technicians as well as skilled construction workers, mechanics and engineers. He added: “We’re short of hundreds of thousands of IT experts.”