HC Deb 09 July 1958 vol 591 cc369-71
5. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Labour how many vacancies for boys have been notified to the Youth Employment Bureau in Blackburn; and how this compares with the number of school leavers who will be requiring jobs this mid-summer.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Richard Wood)

On 2nd July there were 43 notified unfilled vacancies for boys. More are expected to be notified in the next few weeks. About 380 boys will be requiring jobs this summer and it is thought that about 100 of them may have to wait for a time before they find employment.

Mrs. Castle

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this situation is alarming? Is not it a fact that the bulge in the schools is now passing into the labour market at the very moment when, on the one hand, National Service is coming to an end and, on the other, there is a recession in the cotton industry which is intensifying the problem locally? Will the right hon. Gentleman get his Department to enter into consultation at once with the Ministry of Education and any other appropriate Department to ensure that we do not have a repetition of the situation that existed in the old days in my constituency when young boys were leaving school with no prospect of employment and no alternative but to mess about in the streets?

Mr. Wood

I think the hon. Lady would be wrong to paint this picture too black. Last year, as she knows, there were rather fewer school leavers in her area and all but a very few of them were placed in employment within two months of leaving school. I suggested in my Answer that it will, I am afraid, take a little longer this year, but I am as convinced as is the hon. Lady of the need for finding employment for these boys and girls as soon as we possibly can.

11. Mr. Hannan

asked the Minister of Labour if he is satisfied that there are sufficient youth employment officers employed by his Department to deal with the increasing number of young entrants to industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wood

Careful consideration has been given to the staff which will be required by the Youth Employment Service to deal with the additional numbers of school leavers during the next few years, and I am satisfied that adequare provision is being and will be made.

Mr. Hannan

Will the hon. Gentleman, while bearing in mind the increasing number and the importance of the educational aspect, also consult the respective Ministers in England and Wales and in Scotland about making the best use of these young people by helping and advising them about jobs consonant with their educational attainments?

Mr. Wood

As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, those education authorities in Scotland which operate the Youth Employment Service have been asked their requirements of employment officers in the next few years. They have made certain suggestions which we think are reasonable, and therefore the service to help these boys and girls will be increased as they have suggested.

15 and 16. Mr. Owen

asked the Minister of Labour (1) in view of the growing problem of finding suitable employment for school leavers, if he will make a further statement;

(2) what action is being taken in conjunction with the joint committee of industry and trade unions to deal with the provision of employment for school leavers.

Mr. Wood

The best assessment I can make at present is that there will be difficulty in some areas, but the general prospects of employment for this year's school leavers are satisfactory. The job of placing them in employment may take a little longer than in some recent years and the choice open to them may not be so wide. The local Youth Employment Committees on which employers and workpeople are represented have an important part to play in developing employment opportunities for young people.

Mr. Owen

Is the Minister aware that in certain parts of the country the youth employment officers are getting really concerned at the impact of the school bulge upon youth employment in the community? While recognising that this is a problem which perhaps at the moment is not immediate, may I ask whether the Minister agrees that its ultimate effect over the next two years will be challenging? In view of that, may I express the hope that the Government will not regard this matter with complacency?

Mr. Wood

I do not disagree with anything the hon. Gentleman has said. He will probably agree that the availability of employment opportunities is a rather more important factor than the bulge itself, although of course both are important. I can assure him that I feel no complacency about this. I regard it not only as a great challenge; I regard the bulge itself as being an opportunity for industry, and I hope industry will take advantage of it.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in South Wales the outlook for school leavers is worse than it has been for twenty years? Will the Government make some plans to provide for this situation?

Mr. Wood

I had a chance of seeing some of the problems of South Wales when I was there. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this depends very much on the general employment position and the coming of industry to South Wales. This is the real answer to his problem and I hope more industry will be forthcoming.