HC Deb 13 March 1963 vol 673 cc1346-7
28. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the number of skilled men unemployed and the few vacancies for them shown in the Ministry of Labour Gazette of February, 1963, he will cancel the proposed training in the occupation of pottery, platers, welders, fitters, woodworkers and patternmakers and moulders.

Mr. Hare

There are no courses in pottery, plating, patternmaking or moulding at Government Training Centres. There are long established classes in welding, fitting and woodworking. There are not at present as many vacancies as normally in these trades but the training programme is geared to likely future demands. The long-term interests of the economy require an increase rather than a decrease in training.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the latest Ministry of Labour Gazette which states that in all the skilled trades to which he has referred the number of unemployed in each locality is three or four times the number of vacancies? What is the good of expenditure on effort of this kind if when they have been trained young men cannot be found employment?

Mr. Hare

I have the greatest respect for the hon. Member, who is a very experienced Member of this House, but I really cannot agree with a word of what he has just said. I refuse to be a prophet of woe. I believe that there will be future expansion in this country, and I believe, too, that expansion will not be possible unless we have the young men, and, indeed, the older men and women, trained in the skills required.

Mr. P. Williams

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that prosperity, and the survival of prosperity, in this country, depends on producing greater and more accurate skills rather than on going in the opposite direction?

Mr. Hare

That is precisely my view.

Mr. Bence

Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the general qualities of apprenticeship training in many industries? Is he satisfied that boys who have served five years' apprenticeship have had adequate training in skills such as patternmaking? Is not inadequate training a contributing factor when they cannot get jobs?

Mr. Hare

I am by no means satisfied. One of the purposes of the new industrial training proposals is to look into that very point. I have put three questions to the main apprenticeship industries. First, are they satisfied with the quality and quantity of apprenticeship training, and if not, what are they going to do about it? Secondly, are they satisfied that the length of apprenticeship is the correct one'? Thirdly, are they satisfied with the existing arrangements, many of which were formed years ago?

Mr. R. W. Elliott

In addition to that, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the need for the retraining of men from redundant industries, many of whom are often of quite advanced years? Is he aware of the success of the retraining centre set up by the E.E.C. in the Borinage area of Belgium, where miners have been retrained very successfully in a number of other skills?

Mr. Hare

I take note of what my hon. Friend has said. Of course, this is not merely a question of training the young but also of retraining older men who become redundant in industries which are running down.