HC Deb 12 April 1965 vol 710 cc941-3
24. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Labour what progress has been made in the implementation of the provisions of the Industrial Training Act with particular reference to increased training facilities for girls.

Mr. Marsh

Five industrial training boards have been established covering more than a quarter of the working population. The Training Board for the Wool Industry—in which half the employees are women and girls—intends to pay grants this year to employers providing training in a wide range of occupations. The advice of the Commercial and Clerical Training Committee of the Central Training Council, which is considering the training of office workers, will in due course be made available to boards.

Mrs. Short

I thank my hon. Friend for giving that information, but would remind him that last year, of all girls leaving school, only 5.7 per cent. had apprenticeships, and most of those were in hairdressing. Is he aware that of all our technologists and engineers, only 0.2 per cent. are women? Does he not agree, therefore, that not only must we encourage and expand the training facilities, but that we need to do a great deal to overcome female prejudice against industry, science and technology in general? Would my hon. Friend undertake to consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to see whether the two Departments could co-operate in this matter?

Mr. Marsh

As my hon. Friend will be aware, an inter-Departmental committee of the Ministry of Labour and the Department for Education and Science has already been set up to deal with this specific point, and the training boards will be examining the position with regard to women employees as it comes within their particular scope.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the country is desperately short of skilled manpower, that our population is not growing at the rate we need, and that, since we are restricting immigration, it is vital that we tap our female resources of labour, increase their skills, and give them an opportunity for training?

Mr. Marsh

Without going into too much detail about exactly what we should do with our female labour, it is the Government's intention to use the Industrial Training Act to meet many of the deficiencies in the provision of skilled manpower that undoubtedly exist.