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Facing historic job losses, Britons are retraining. But there’s a problem

Government policy towards skills training has long been plagued by a serious blind spot—and its response to the pandemic shows as much

By Clara Hernanz-Lizarraga  

The fact that Covid-19 has widened the economic divide is no longer a debate. Photo: Paula Sollaway/Alamy Stock Photo

Last year, as chancellor Rishi Sunak encouraged people from “all walks of life” to retrain in the wake of the coronavirus-induced recession, Vikki Stephenson took an online careers quiz to find out what job could be right for her. The government’s National Careers Service skills assessment quiz—a free online 50-question test that helps quiz takers find alternate professions—proved to be far from helpful. Participants reported receiving results that ranged from the extraordinary (bingo caller, colon hydrotherapist) to the absurd (becoming a ballerina in middle age). Several were also encouraged to take up jobs severely affected by lockdowns (airline pilot,…

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