Sir Keir Starmer made the comments during his visit to Plymouth
The Labour leader is calling for the Government to extend coronavirus support schemes for certain sectors.
Sir Keir Starmer has been visiting the South West this week and stopped off at Plymouth on Thursday (30 July) to meet with local MP Luke Pollard and local manufacturing and tourism businesses.
He has warned sectors such as those face a "stark" job crisis, unless they are granted more help.
Mr Starmer believes the furlough scheme, which is being phased out in the coming months, should be extended for those working in tourism and manufacturing.
During his visit to Plymouth, he said there is a long-term and short-term solution:
"We need to look at skills again, because the skills coming into manufacturing, actually into most sectors, but manufacturing in Plymouth and the South West, are not readily available, because we’ve got a skills gap between the training that we’re carrying out and the skills that we need.
"That’s a long-term problem that has to be solved and it hasn’t been solved for a very long time.
"The short-term problem is that companies and businesses that are at risk because of COVID-19 are less inclined to take apprentices, less inclined to invest in skills in the short-term and that is why we need to give them the support and confidence to be able to do that.
"So a lot of companies and businesses are saying ‘I would normally take apprentices, but I’m not going to because it’s an additional risk’ and of course, that is an opportunity lost for someone who might have been an apprentice and a skill lost.
"So there’s a short-term problem we need to deal with, but there’s a much longer-term problem and that is that there hasn’t been a skills strategy for a decade and we desperately need it."
WATCH - Sir Keir Starmer talks to Radio Plymouth during his visit to the South West:
Mr Starmer says that there is a lot of innovation going on in the South West, through sectors like manufacturing, technology and green industries.
He says we need to champion and support that so that there is a more diverse economy going forward:
"That’s why being here today at Princess Yachts is so important, because what it demonstrates is that in Plymouth you’ve got a strong manufacturing base in company like this by supporting 3,000 jobs.
"That’s very important alongside the tourist sector.
"I’m struck by the quality of what’s going on here and the skill that goes into it.
"I think that would make anyone in Plymouth proud, it would make anyone in the United Kingdom very proud and that fact that these yachts are being sold across the world with the skill that’s gone into it in Plymouth is quite incredible."
Radio Plymouth journalists Sophie Squires and Chris Baker meeting Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer