Theresa May is to shake up technical education as part of an industrial strategy for a post-Brexit UK.
The prime minister is due to set out the strategy on Monday at her first regional cabinet meeting, being held in north-west England.
But she told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that among a “variety of things” being introduced she wants to “put an emphasis on technical education”.
“It’s about forging and shaping the new future,” she said.
There have long been calls for the UK to re-balance its economy, a task made more urgent if the City of London’s big financial firms slim down operations after Brexit.
Mrs May told the Marr show she wanted to bolster both manufacturing and services, but also to help future growth areas.
She said: “What is the shape of the economy we want for the future? Where are the successful sectors that we can encourage to grow? And what are the sectors that we need to look at for the future?”
Mrs May said the UK could do more to expand science and innovation, and she cited advances in battery technology as one area for growth. “Battery technology – we are leading the way on that already,” she said.
She also highlighted plans to extend specialist maths schools.
There have been reports that the overhaul of technical education will include £170m of capital funding to set up institutes of technology to deliver education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Thousands of technical qualifications, which critics see as low quality, will be replaced with 15 core technical “routes” designed to meet industry’s needs.
Commons education committee chairman Neil Carmichael said the move was welcome, and should go a long way” towards filling its 82,000-strong annual engineering skills gap.