HC Deb 05 February 1965 vol 705 cc1395-474

11.5 a.m.

Dr. Wyndham Davies (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I beg to move, That this House, taking fully into account current trends in education and industry, and mindful of the need for helping young people to choose, obtain and settle down in employment and training suitable to their individual capacities and inclinations; recognising the unique contribution which the Youth Employment Service can make to this end in the interests of the young people concerned, their employers and the nation's economy, calls on Her Majesty's Government to promote the further development of this service. Disraeli once said: The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity, and other statesmen have developed his theme. Not what I have, said Carlyle, but what I do is my kingdom. To each is given a certain inward talent, a certain outward > environment of fortune; to each, by wisest combination of these two, a certain maximum of capability. But the hardest problem was ever this first: To find by study of yourself and of the ground you stand on, what your combined inward and outward capability is. For, also, our young soul is all budding with capabilities, and we see not yet which is the main and true one. I make no apology for introducing this subject to the House and only ask your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, for any diffidence born of Parliamentary inexperience. In my subject of Motion, I believe that I have chosen one which is vital and urgent and which might otherwise have lacked the consideration it deserved in the press of Parliamentary business. For we have under consideration a social service of agonising importance to each boy or girl who is venturing a cautious exploratory toe into the waters of a work-a-day world. They have to take the plunge into a dark swirl. Will it engulf them in a frightening flood of cold, unwelcoming foam? Will it whirl them back and forth in deep currents, bearing them away from the direction they first took? Or will the plunge be made with calm confidence into a stream bearing them steadily onward to join others in tranquillity and on to the calm, welcoming waters and a safe haven? The colour of our whole life is generally such as the three or four first years in which we are our own masters make it", wrote William Cowper. But, as we move through the change in the schemes of society which have obliterated the safe signposts of our own generation, the presented problems require a new look at the accepted solutions. We all know the challenges to society presented by the Industrial Revolution attracting predominantly agricultural and family-based cottage industry to the "dark Satanic mills" and mines of cheap labour, of cheap child and female exploitation, exacting a toll of human despair and misery.

Fifty years ago, the late F. G. Marquis, better known to all of us in the House as Lord Woolton, edited a pioneer document for the Liverpool Juvenile Employment Committee.

Today, there is another revolution in our nation. First, it is starting as a trickle of activity, then—and it must be—a mighty rushing torrent engulfing those rugged rocks that cannot move, the trees that will not bend and the swimmer who cannot change direction in time. This is what a more than 25 per cent, rise in national productivity before 1970 really means in human terms—not an increase in toil and sweat by workers and management, because largely, I believe, those who wish to toil and sweat are doing so already. Nothing infuriates them more than fatuous politicians preaching harder work to them.

The increase will be due to the cybernetic revolution that is already upon us, by which I mean the quiet revolution, if that is the right term, of the age of the automated machine, the age of computer control and the gradual eclipse of manual labour in factory design in the advanced countries of the Western world such as our own.

This will have human and social implications as far-reaching as the Industrial Revolution. As the speed of progress in the cybernetic revolution accelerates, so the young employee of the future may need to change his type of occupation or work several times. A recent survey suggests that this might be as many as four times in his working life. A new conception, therefore, of continuous vocational guidance is required. Are we ready for this? Are we ready for all the implications? What of the present system in youth employment?

Serving our nation today are dedicated men and women who have patiently tried to give the guidance which our boys and girls need on their journey from school to work. It is common to mark the ages of man—of birth, of marriage and of death—with spiritual reverence and preparation. In primitive society so was marked the accession to hunter and man from childhood. The hunter has in civilised society given way to the breadwinner, but is the preparation to this mark of independence and manhood less necessary? I believe the answer to be "No", for today, as life's complexity increases, the need is greater. This is not just for career and vocational guidance.

Dr. Martin Herford, of Slough, has shown some of the health and employment problems of the adolescent boy and girl in his pioneering survey described in "Youth at Work". To him and to many others I dedicate this debate. He is a doctor who has made sacrifices to show that the appointed factory doctor scheme can be a reality in helping working adolescents to adjust to their problems.

I never fail to wonder at the sense of dedication and spirit of public service that inspires so many of this nation of ours. Amongst those active in this field of vocational guidance whom I have met over the past few days and weeks, I have met this one doctor whom I have talked about; another who has devoted himself to international labour organisations and the welfare of the trade unions; a national of another country who has settled here and devoted himself to the Youth Employment Service; an able manager whose early employment experience gave him the drive to create something better for the younger generation, and an old Etonian who, forsaking a safe job with a family firm, risked his own resources to provide a service in this field.

Over the last few years, a great deal of consideration has been given to the expansion and rethinking of the country's educational services, the problems of apprenticeship and of industrial retraining and the new problems posed in the ever-increasing technological specialisation.

The Newsom Committee and the Robbins Committee have highlighted the paths to the future in these fields. But, meanwhile, unhappiness and frustration to individual boys and girls leading to maladjustment and dissatisfaction in later life have resulted from the failure to obtain sufficient good advice before—I emphasise "before"—and after leaving school to guide them in a sensible choice of career.

There may be even those amongst us who, frustrated in their first careers, found an interesting new life in politics, but how can many of our citizens express their disappointment and frustrations apart from a sense of general grievance against society and disquiet in their own homes? Amongst the sections of our social service that require radical rethinking from the wartime and post-war planning that led to them is, to my mind, no more crying need than that of the Youth Employment Service.

I would go so far as to say that this country must look not only at the problems posed by the technological revolution in terms of management studies, labour relations and technical advance in industry, but at the careful and sensible placing of boys and girls in careers that will enable them to express all that they are capable of and all that is best within them. To my mind, this is one of the great needs of our time in Britain.

Has the Youth Employment Service become the Cinderella of the social services? Will it weaken with stagnation and frustration? To answer these questions, I must try first to describe what is good in the service and then present some criticisms and some constructive solutions.

At the moment, this service relies upon the initiative, the keenness and the dedication of its workers. For example, in the areas of some local education authorities every boy and girl is systematically guided and counselled. Unfortunately, I am led to believe that this is not universally true throughout the whole country and it is only because of the exceptional ability of the senior officers concerned in some areas that a better situation has occurred.

At the moment, the service can often pick up boys or girls leaving school who are in need of expert medical help which should have been provided for them by their school medical service. In many areas, a good after-care service for young adults has been built up, and this, when adequately explained to young people by their teachers and the youth employment officers prior to leaving school, can be invaluable where sufficient qualified staff is available to offer the help required by these young workers.

What, then, are the problems? First, there is a widely held misunderstanding of the whole purpose of the service due to the title "Youth Employment Service." One late teen-ager strolled into a certain youth employment office the other week and said, "What jobs have you got?" It had to be carefully explained to him that the purpose of the service was guidance and counselling on the choice of a future career rather than that of an employment exchange. Eventually, after considerable discussion, the youth employment officer found that the youngster had good academic qualifications and convinced him that he should go back to his grammar school to seek a university place rather than go straight to work. So we see that the function of this service should be a career advisory and further education information service. This, as a change of title, probably slightly abbreviated, would express its function as a link between school and higher education, the link between school and apprenticeship, the link between school and a sensible career attuned to the needs of the individual.

That the need is not being fully met at the moment is expressed in the dissatisfaction of those serving in it—to which I shall allude later—and the springing up of private fee-paying agencies, often staffed by people of good will but, I regret to say, often without adequate qualifications or experience. One example which I have had shown to me is of a youngster of very limited ability receiving advice from such an agency to enter a career involving high educational attainments and educational pre-qualifications completely beyond what this youngster could hope to obtain. Almost certainly the net should be spread more widely in giving service among the youngsters throughout the community.

The latest issue, for example, of Technical Education and Industrial Training, in its editorial "The Missing Link", says: Already we are spending over £200 million annually on higher education. Every year each student at this level costs an amount which varies between £568 for art students and £1,061 for medical students. And the national bill is rising sharply. Yet the means through which the students are recruited or guided into higher education are casual to the point of sheer negligence. The situation has been highlighted by a recently published book which exposes the haphazard nature of the transition from school to higher education. This state of affairs is nothing to be proud of. There is a common thread of complaint. Almost every student interviewed claimed that he was unable to get the sort of information on which alone he could have made a rational choice. The information was just not there. The sixth former of many types of school, including the public schools, is just not getting adequate career guidance, and we cannot afford this national waste of talent and the frustrations which this implies. Since there is even a lack of suitable basic information available, the new non-profit-making body called the Careers Research and Advisory Centre has been opened at Cambridge. It has been created to meet the need and has already 500 subscribing members. Since hon. Members opposite often believe the Etonian to be the recipient of all the advantages of a good educational life, I have it on good authority that some Etonians feel that their career advising is as inadequate as that in many other schools.

A 1963 survey by the Department of Psychology at Glasgow on the effectiveness of the youth employment officer concludes that the meeting between the school-leaver and the Youth Employment Service comes too late to be effective, and the individual boy or girl sees the youth employment officer as offering a placement rather than a guidance service. Some attempt has been made by a number of voluntary bodies to fill the gap. I would draw attention to the courses run for teachers by the Employers' Confederation, and those run directly for youngsters by the National Association of Boys' Clubs.

In the 1963 edition of the Youth Employment Officers Yearbook, Mr. Hoxter, Youth Employment Officer of the County Borough of East Ham and then Chairman of the Institute of Youth Employment Officers for London and the South-East, described vocational guidance as best undertaken as a slow and gradual process extending over a number of years. It should keep pace with the young person's gradual maturation and the emergence and realisations of his strength and weakness, of his interests and tastes. He believes in the need for continuity in this process, commencing with vocational orientation, well before leaving school, in many cases continuing with counselling through the later years of training and employment.

All this needs a close liaison of teachers and youth employment officers, but even they, alone, cannot deal with all the problems in this field and they should be joined by medical men who show an aptitude and interest for the overlap period from the school health service to the industrial medical service, not at present very successfully bridged by the system of appointed factory doctors. I would echo Professor Crew's words that "Medicine is now an instrument of social policy".

Yet the need is clear for more medical liaison. Even as far back as 1904 the Inter-Departmental Committee on physical deterioration in the nation was impressed with the conviction that the period of adolescence is responsible for much waste of human material and for the entrance upon maturity of permanently damaged and ineffective persons of both sexes. The committee of inquiry into problems connected with defective vision in schoolchildren in 1931, and the committee of inquiry into the problems of partially sighted children in 1934, demonstrated the extent of the problems and the care and after-care needed in employment of those children.

In 1949 the Gowers Committee on Hours of Employment of Juveniles, to my mind, seemed far too lenient in its suggestion of employment limitations. A stricter control on young employees in certain hazardous occupations would serve to reduce the accident level which seems apparent in those just starting work. No statistics, I would say, on this problem are available, and here the youth employment officer might help by proper job guidance and insistence on safety training in certain occupations and throughout the whole field of industry; but more legislative powers are also needed. The lack of fuller co-operation with the schools is no new problem, since the Ince Committee of 1945 on the juvenile employment rates noted this problem.

Apart from the liaison on health matters which I have tried to emphasise, the raising of the school-leaving age, already announced to be 16, will give an opportunity for development of such things as sample work, as advocated in the Newsom Report itself, with a more leisured and comprehensive approach to safety training and health precautions. For health liaison work to be effective, both to those disabled mentally and physically, a doctor is needed to be available for the Youth Employment Service at regular times and regular intervals. The Dale Committee of 1951 on inquiry into industrial health services drew attention to the need for special training for the appointed factory doctor, and if this service can acquire a special relationship with the Youth Employment Service, then continuous counselling might be achieved.

That this is possible has been shown by Dr. Herford in Slough. That there is a need has been shown by student health surveys with counselling rates as high as 30 per cent. over the total population over the period of their experience, and by the overwhelming success of the Hampstead adolescent consultation centre provided by private philanthropy. Government support might well be given to an experimental scheme based on Slough, co-ordinated by a university department of social science and possibly a new university in an industrial area, such as Keele, which has a particular interest in social studies, or, perhaps, even our new university, Aston, in Birmingham, might well consider a unit. Specialist help is also needed for the severely disabled, as demonstrated by the Medical Research Council's memorandum of 1952 on Employment Problems of Disabled Youth in Glasgow.

The 1963 Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Factories showed that there had been 285,643 in total medical examinations for employment under the Factories Act in that year. Subsequent examinations amounted to only 226,612, which to my mind seems inadequate to meet the needs due to the changes of employment. For example, more than five jobs have been held in two years by a small 10 per cent. group of the working population of youngsters, and these are often those with special health problems and disabilities.

I support Dr. Herford's suggestion for an inquiry into the possibilities of further co-operation with the Youth Employment Service and the school medical service, and a more detailed investigation into the effects of major defects of health on employment until the age of 25. Further, that the appointed factory doctor should be full-time, a member of the staff of the Medical Inspectorate of Factories, but holding a joint appointment with the local authority as school medical officer. He would, of course, be appointed as a medical officer to the Youth Employment Service.

Some of those concerned with the effectiveness of the Youth Employment Service would seem happy to make the change from ultimate control by the Ministry of Labour, under whom they feel they have stagnated under successive Governments, to the Ministry of Education and Science, but 20 years of sterile discussion of this matter is blamed by others for the lack of technical advance of the service in this country. My suggestion, therefore, is that the working partnership here should be left undisturbed for the moment while the Ministry of Labour finds more money than the current £3¾ million spent per annum on this service.

Many of the principal youth employment officers have a salary and status well below that of the drama, music, physical education or youth service advisers of their area. Comparable salaries would need to be paid to equate the principals in this service with the children's officers of the local authority, and it is here that I believe urgent action is necessary to prevent the constant drain of chief officers and dedicated individuals that is occurring at the present time.

It is here that I am afraid we see one unfortunate aspect of the Civil Service, the tendency to under-pay the technical grades in relation to the executive grades. Capable and dedicated people in London, the Home Counties, and in many parts of Britain, who have devoted years to the Youth Employment Service, have moved to new posts in other fields, and there are far too many ready to follow them. Those with sufficient qualifications are leaving for jobs elsewhere.

But the situation is not all unrelieved gloom with regard to school counsellors of the future. Two university postgraduate courses will start this year—one at the University of Keele in the summer, and one at the University of Reading later in the year, and a vocational guidance research unit at the University of Leeds, set up with the backing of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research after two years' negotiations, will help to produce facts on the whole situation, which are still lacking. I am sorry to say that such units have not been set up by the foresight of any Government Department, but by the dedication of private individuals and financing by the Gulbenkian Foundation. Not that this is a criticism, because much of our pioneering activity has been undertaken by private individuals and foundations.

These are steps in the right direction, but to my mind many more universities' departments of education, coupled with those of psychology and sociology and the medical sciences, should be engaged in this field. The first recruits will no doubt come from the teaching profession. Others may well find their way there from the Youth Employment Service, because the Albemarle Report said that there should be some interchange of youth employment officers as they got a bit longer in the tooth to other occupations. The dedicated job of a youth leader often requires a break from the immediate contact of boisterous youngsters. Newsom has also directed attention to this interchange between the youth employment officer, the youth service officer and the schools.

Here, however, there is a danger, well known to trade unionists, of a demarcation dispute between those of no, or little, academic foundation already in the service, and those with a training who will be members of the teaching profession. What are the full requirements for a training scheme? In France and Belgium it is now a major professional field with its own medical service. No boy or girl may go into apprenticeship until he or she has a certificate from a vocational guidance counsellor concerning his or her stability, both educational and vocationally, and his or her aptitudes.

The Minister of Labour will say that three training schemes are available in this country, but does he consider them completely adequate? We must consider them in comparison with the one-or two-year courses provided at 12 universities for child care or probation officers. To my mind a training board centrally is needed. Its membership should include university representatives, educationalists, and those working in the field of vocational counselling, together with representatives of the ancillary professions, for example, appointed factory doctors, whom I have mentioned, and school psychologists.

I would hope that the suggested curriculum for the vocational guidance officers of the future would be a year or two-year university course with basic training in educational theories, sociology, basic health and medical problems, economics, statistics, social case-work, intelligence, aptitude and dexterity testing, the technique of interviewing, and psychology, and all this against a background of intensive field work of visiting factories, work places, and a whole spectrum of career opportunities.

In the active vocational guidance units of the future—and how far in the future I hope to gain some guidance from the Minister of Labour today—I should like to find a qualified social worker, an adviser for the maladjusted, the disabled and the educationally sub-normal, who have particular employment problems, and a medical officer who attends at regular intervals and at regular times. Such an organisation would require an inspectorate who should be a highly qualified youth employment specialist comparable in background, experience and stature with Her Majesty's inspectors of education, and a scheme of professional refresher courses for those in the service, which I believe to be inadequate at the moment.

We may look, then, to the school counsellor of the future serving every secondary school responsible for educational guidance and vocational orientation of a group of 300 to 400 pupils from the age of entry to the age of leaving school. He need not necessarily be on the school staff, since American experience shows that this leads to problems. Our own system preserves the ability of the outsider to influence the school in matters of social rather than academic policy.

His aim would be to know the boys and girls personally, and to have access to any records which might assist the most skilled suitable guidance for these youngsters. He would require sufficient time to keep in touch with the ordinary working world so that he could offer current information on the whole range of occupations. He would be organising school talks by specialist speakers and conferences at which youngsters could broaden their own outlooks of possible careers. It has been suggested that this school counsellor should be supported by a vocational guidance counsellor based outside the school and serving a group of secondary schools for which he would receive reports from the school counsellors, from the teaching staff and from the school medical officers, and that these counsellors should, in turn, be responsible to a vocational guidance adviser.

Before I finish, I should like to quote from a letter which I received only last week from one of the leaders of the Youth Employment Service in this country. He wrote: I hope that your speech will call for a more vigorous and generous implementation of present arrangements rather than rubbing out the present arrangements and drawing them again. A 10 per cent. increase in expenditure would work wonders in many areas, and even such a rise, or better still 15 per cent., would be chicken feed compared with many phases of national expenditure. I know that this is a common argument, but I hope that I have developed the point sufficiently to show that there may be a special case here. He continues: But staff is the key. When the Government wished to lift the probation service out of the doldrums they gave a substantial rise. He said that it was something like 20 per cent. We need about the same. I think that that is as far as I can quote from the letter.

Let us take a look to the future. I have ranged widely over the subject, but I hope that my criticisms will be regarded as constructive. The will to improvement is there and dedicated individuals are pioneering experimental approaches. A rise in recruitment will increase the services and decrease the case load of each individual officer. Better training facilities and a salary structure brought into line with professional scales will help. All I ask the Minister is: Can this be soon?

I end, as I began, with a quotation fom Disraeli: Change is inevitable. In a progressive country, change is constant. Pioneer work and university research has presented us with the skeleton of a new design in careers guidance. Let us now clothe this skeleton with flesh and substance.

11.43 a.m.

Mr. W. E. Garrett (Wallsend)

This is my first speech in the Chamber since I was elected to represent the people of the Wallsend constituency. This constituency covers a large area of the southeast of Northumberland and it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne in the middle of the industrial region of Tyneside. As many hon. Members know, the constituency is famous for its shipbuilding, ship-repairing and marine engineering industries. There are also some large coal mines in the constituency and, generally speaking, there is a wide variety of ancillary industries.

This debate is, therefore, most important to my constituency, which is very highly populated and contains a varied amount of industry. The need for young people in my constituency to assess, with the assistance of the youth employment officer, where their potential talents can be placed is most urgent. Unfortunately—and this applies particularly to the young boys—they are unable to obtain suitable work, for there is great difficulty on Tyneside in finding work for young people. Many of the young boys leaving the secondary schools have great difficulty in obtaining apprenticeships.

In my opinion, this is most unfortunate, because many of these boys have gained some technical knowledge while at school. It seems unfortunate that the knowledge which they have gained should be wasted, in view of the future need for skilled craftsmen, and in my opinion it is most urgent that we should make better use of this latent talent of these young boys.

I should like to see the Ministry of Labour, in co-operation with the youth employment officers, set up an apprentice training school, preferably on the north bank of the River Tyne, in my constituency. Those boys who were unable to obtain apprenticeships through the normal industrial channels would be given a recognised apprenticeship at Government apprentice schools. On completion of the apprenticeship they would be added to the reservoir of future craftsmen within the country.

It is unfortunate that in this region there are inadequate facilities for training young people. The only technical college in the region was completed two years ago. It has 400 full-time pupils between the ages of 16 and 18 and twice that number of part-time pupils, in the main day-release students. It is the South-East Northumberland Technical College. This college caters for a population of about 150,000. I am pleased to state that the Northumberland County Council has already applied to the Ministry of Education for a £388,500 grant towards an extension of this college, and I suggest that there is a most urgent need for this extension to be speeded up. The college is generally overcrowded.

The college is up to date and modern, and has a principal with excellent ideas on how we can make use of the skills of the young people. In addition to the normal engineering apprenticeship courses, such as those in steel fabrication and general engineering, he has made an attempt to train young people for some of the new skills which are arising. For example, girls from 16 to 18 are given pre-nursing courses and, therefore, they are better equipped to enter the teaching hospitals than if they had been working between the ages of 15 and 18 in offices or similar employment.

There are opportunities for young men to train for catering and the catering management profession. Courses are available—the college may not be unique in this; there may be similar courses in the country—in floristry. There is a full-time florist who does her utmost to assist by teaching these students the techniques of making use of the flowers, together with a knowledge of plants and marketing, and where to obtain the variety of things which make up many of the aspects of floristry. There is a full-time course on hairdressing, which is available to both boys and girls.

This is an example of some of the new skills which are needed as our living standards rise. It is an example of how we can use the talents of these people to make sure that they progress towards reasonably well-paid jobs with good prospects. I think that we have to give assistance to them through the youth education service by making sure that the education authorities have the equipment with which to help them.

My plea this morning is for an extension of the training facilities as soon as possible, because the young people leaving school at 15 are, in the main, much more intelligent and responsible than they used to be. They are prepared to contribute their part to society. It is up to us to help them, and in helping them we are also helping the nation.

Finally, I urge the Government to consider the provision of an apprentice training school on the north bank of the Tyne and also to speed up as urgently as possible the extension of the South-East Northumberland Training College.

11.50 a.m.

Mr. Bernard Weatherill (Croydon, North-East)

I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak for the first time on a Motion with which I wholeheartedly agree, and I do so with great humility. I am very conscious of the honour it is to address this House.

I represent the constituency of Croydon, North-East. My predecessor here was Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett, who has I know, many friends on both sides of the House. He is a man who has rendered very distinguished service to his country in two spheres, first, as a naval officer, though perhaps "distinguished" is an under-statement, because he was one of the key figures in the planning of the Normandy invasion in 1944.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett's career in this House was no less distinguished. He was a leading member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Council of Europe and to the Assembly of Western European Union. In 1961, he was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, where he had special responsibilities for shipping and shipbuilding. He tackled this task with the same vigour and efficiency which marked all his activities, and his handling of the Harbours Bill last year drew remarkable tributes from both sides of the House. Croydon was profoundly sad at his decision to retire from active politics, and I am conscious that he has set a high standard which I shall do my best to emulate in my membership of the House.

It used to be said that on a fine day it was possible to see the dome of St. Paul's from the centre of Croydon. Today, the reverse is certainly true, for within the past few years the town centre has been completely redeveloped and contains some of the finest and some of the tallest buildings in the whole of the South-East.

Uniquely among the outer suburbs, Croydon took advantage of the official encouragement given to office decentralisation and today it has become one of the most important commercial centres outside Central London. This has been achieved not simply by its geographical position and its good communications, but also—and by no means least—by the forward-thinking of a first-rate local authority and its officials.

If it can be said that Croydon gave a lead to other local authorities on the question of redevelopment, it is also true that as far back as 1912 it was one of the very first boroughs to take up powers under the Choice of Employment Act. This was an Act which piloted through the House by the late Sir Winston Churchill and which gave local authorities power to advise young people about their careers. The Juvenile Employment Service of 1912 has developed over 50 years into the Youth Employment Service of today with a proud, valuable and excellent record of service to the citizens and the employers of the Borough of Croydon and, of course, to the youth of the country as a whole.

The ever-increasing mechanisation in industry and now in commerce also is causing a significant change in the employment structure of the country. Human energy has slowly over the years been replaced by machines, and it seems that we are now on the threshold of a second industrial revolution, but this time the revolution builds intelligence into machines which largely operate themselves. A record total of over 24 million people are in employment today of whom about half are engaged in making goods and the other half are engaged in providing services.

During the next few years we shall see significant changes. I believe that we are moving more and more towards the American pattern where today out of a total working population of 72 million only one-quarter are engaged in manufacturing and three-quarters are engaged in service industries. So it is in this changing pattern that the Youth Employment Service has such an important and vital part to play: first, in informing and advising young people about the careers open to them; secondly, in helping to find openings in the careers they have chosen; and, thirdly, in keeping their progress under review when they have started work and by giving them further advice and help should it be needed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies), who moved the Motion, pointed to the fact that the success of this vital work depends upon a close partnership between careers teachers in schools, who prepare the ground, and youth employment officers who advise on training and employment. Careers masters know a great deal about education and about youngsters. Youth employment officers must bring to this partnership a specialised knowledge about the changing pattern of industry and training.

The first point I want to make is that, unhappily, because the Youth Employment Service lacks adequate funds, its officers are given only two opportunities of meeting the youngsters concerned, the first at a group meeting and the second at an individual interview which, because of the pressure of work, may last only 20 minutes. Frankly, in present-day circumstances this is not nearly enough. We need to increase the number of youth employment officers so as to provide at least two contacts with school groups and two individual interviews, and also to develop planned careers programmes in schools.

Since the future of our country will depend upon research, design and development, it is absolutely vital that we train the right young people in the right numbers for our vital industries. It is the impact of this that youth employment officers must bring forcibly to young people in schools.

The second point I wish to make is that in this connection we should take a critical look at the length of training and particularly at the length of apprenticeships which in some of our craft trades and industries have not changed over the centuries and do not take account of the change from hand work to the era of machines.

Just to take two examples. Do we really need five years to train toolmakers when Western Germany is doing it in three and a half years? In the building industry must we continue to treat all crafts as needing the same length of training? Surely, in view of modern developments, cannot we say, and get agreement with the unions, that some trades need a great deal of skill and others much less, and train accordingly? Must we not really clear our minds about initial training and not confuse it with depth of experience?

The House will know that a very important part of the work of the Youth Employment Service is to offer further help if it is needed once young people have started work. It is bound to happen that, however much care is taken, the first job may not be the right job. The trouble is, of course, that the sudden transfer from a school community to an industrial one is a very sharp experience and young workers have to learn the daily routine and discipline to which older people have become accustomed. I do not think that we ought to mollycoddle them in any way, but I do believe that employers ought to bear in mind that they should provide proper induction courses when young people join them. I would like to feel—and this is a purely personal point—that if a youngster gives up it should be the job of someone in senior management to see the young person concerned and to find out exactly what has gone wrong.

I do not want to detain the House, but there are two further comments which I should like to make. The first concerns the training of youth employment officers. The Piercy Committee, which reported in 1951, recommended that all youth employment officers should receive one year's full-time training. Modern educational developments, the changing economy and service to young people and their parents demand that all youth employment officers should have professional training now.

My second comment concerns the National Youth Employment Council. Is it not ironic that this Council, which advises the Minister on the Youth Employment Service, should have on it representatives from the local authorities, the teaching professions, the employers and the trade unions, but not a single youth employment officer? One cannot imagine any educational advisory council not including among its members a practising teacher. I urge the Minister to remedy the situation so that the National Youth Employment Council is strengthened by the inclusion of a youth employment officer among its members.

I support the Motion wholeheartedly. We are frequently reminded that in these islands we are blessed with very few raw materials, and in these circumstances the abilities and skills of our young people are our greatest single asset. The Youth Employment Service is doing and has done valiant work with very little public recognition and very little appreciation. In terms of the vast sums which we rightly spend on education, the £3¾ million spent annually on this service is, frankly, not enough.

It is unthinkable and even stupid that, having educated our youngsters to a very high standard, we fail to do all we can to help them to put their abilities to the best use not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the country as a whole. The world is more and more competitive and our future depends wholly upon the only raw material we have—the skills of our young people, properly trained, properley developed and properly applied.

2.3 p.m.

John Binns (Keighley)

May I, first, express my thanks for having been given this opportunity to make my maiden speech today. May I also make the customary appeal for the indulgence of the House in case my contribution to the full debate fails to maintain the tremendously high standard set by the previous two speakers.

I have been sent to the House to represent the constituency of Keighley, which is an industrial town in the West Riding. It is on the very edge of the West Riding conurbation and on the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales, so that as one travels north towards Keighley one travels through the most highly industrialised part of the West Riding and, leaving Keighley and still travelling north, one moves into what is perhaps some of the most beautiful country in England, the Yorkshire Dales. It is, therefore, fair to claim that Keighley is the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales.

The town is set in a valley in the Pennines. On one hillside we have the famous Ilkley Moor, where, according to the song, any stranger so unwary as to travel there without a hat will be gobbled up by some savage worms. On the opposite hillside we have what can fairly be claimed to be the second literary shrine in England, the village of Haworth, the home of the Brontes, and the Bronte Moors. They are all in my constituency.

Keighley is a very hardworking and industrious town, and has a diversity of trades and occupations, its two main trades being wool textiles and engineering. The constituency has been represented in the House in the past by hon. Members of undoubted ability. At least three of them have reached the Front Bench in previous Labour Administrations—Mr. H. B. Lees-Smith, who was Postmaster-General in the 1924 Labour Government, Mr. Ivor Thomas, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the 1945 Labour Government, and Mr. Charles Hobson, who is now in another place and who was Assistant Postmaster-General in the same Administration. I should also like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. Marcus Worsley, for his hard work and for his effort on behalf of the constituency during the last Parliament.

For all the undoubted ability of my predecessors, I can claim to bring to the House a qualification and asset which none of them possessed. It is the fact that I was born in my constituency and have lived there since. I have helped to administer its affairs for almost 20 years as a member of the local authority and for a year I was the mayor of the borough. I can claim to know something of the problems and hopes and aspirations of the people of my constituency, because I am one of those people.

I am sure that hon. Members will agree that one of the assets of the House is that it is composed of Members who represent almost every trade and profession in the country. Whichever of these trades or professions is discussed, there is always an hon. Member who can give the House first-hand knowledge of the prevailing situation in that trade or profession.

Today, we are discussing the problems of the Youth Employment Service. One of its great problems is that it is failing to prevent young people from going into dead-end jobs and to attract them into apprenticeships in those sections of industry where they are most needed. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) that even in constituencies like mine, where apprenticeships are available, it is not always easy to encourage young people to take up apprenticeships. The simple reason is that they have to serve five years as apprentices and can get better earnings by working in a bingo hall, or becoming an attendant of fruit machines.

I wonder whether hon. Members are aware that in my constituency a skilled engineer who is apprenticed-trained and who is doing precision work has a basic wage less than that of a porter on London Underground, less than that of a bus conductor on London Passenger Transport. I do not criticise the workers in those occupations, but I am comparing the five years of apprenticeship which a skilled craftsman has to spend preparing himself for his work in his trade against what training may be given to a porter or bus conductor.

One of the reasons for this is that the fathers of these boys and girls are already working in these industries as skilled tradesmen and are themselves facing a number of problems within their own industries. I know that because, until coming to the House, I was one of these so-called craftsmen, one of these apprenticed-trained workers, working at shop floor level.

We would all agree that in the face of very fierce competition from all other major nations the only way in which we can create expansion within our own economy is to be prepared to modernise and to increase the efficiency of our home industries. To do that in an industry such as that within which I worked, which is basically mechanical, means the introduction of automation. It is when automation is being introduced into a factory that a skilled worker faces his greatest problem.

It must be remembered that the only thing which a skilled worker has to sell to his employer is the skill of his hands and the limited expert knowledge of one small section of a production line. When he sees machines being developed which can not only produce components ten times faster than the machine he is already operating, but with ten times the accuracy, the craftsman suddenly realises that the skill he has acquired from five years' apprenticeship, from countless hours at an evening institute and from years of practical work on a production line, is becoming obsolete. He sees before him at the best a need for a change of employment, a need to learn a new skill, and at the worst he sees the horror of unemployment. Whichever of these alternatives becomes a reality, one thing is certain. He will have to face a long period with a reduced income.

These are the types of workers in these skilled crafts who, for years, have been assured of not a large income but a steady one because of the demand for their specialised skill, and because of this steady income they have committed themselves to repayments on house mortgages, motor cars, household equipment and many other things. Any reduction in their income for a lengthy period means the collapse of their whole world.

If we are to make this necessary transition from manual operation to automation smoothly and efficiently, we have to find some means of removing the worry and the anxiety which afflict the skilled worker during the process of the change-over. Redundancy payments while helpful, are insufficient. We have to introduce a form of new training centre, and during that training we have to ensure that the income of the trainee will not fall to such an extent that he finds himself in serious financial difficulties.

We shall have to consider shorter working hours, as the man-hours necessary to run our vital industries diminish year by year. We shall have to make sure that the benefits of automation are shared by all of us, by workers and management alike, and not just distributed to shareholders in high dividends. If we can assure skilled tradesmen in our major industries that this is to be our attitude to the introduction of automation, I am sure that we shall be doing a great deal to remove the fears and doubts that now assail them.

It is only 130 years ago since the Luddites, the hand loom weavers, massed on the moors outside my town and attacked and broke up the power looms which had been manufactured in my constituency, because of their fear of what the power loom would do to their employment. We must not let this happen again. We must create confidence among the people of Britain that the new industrial revolution, the age of automation, will benefit us all, workers and employers alike. We must create a situation which will ensure that the workers welcome, and do not fight, the modernisation of our industry. If we can create this attitude of mind, we shall do much to encourage parents to put their boys and girls into these apprenticeships which will enable them to do a skilled and useful job for the rest of their lives.

12.13 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) on bringing forward this very important subject for discussion today. One of the reasons that I particularly congratulate him is that this debate has elicited three such fascinating, interesting and able maiden speeches today. One was from the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett), who dealt with the important question of training colleges in an area in which there are not so many industrial opportunities as we should like to see and as exist in other parts of the country, notably the area which my hon. Friend and I represent.

In addition, we have heard two other speeches which dealt in such an interesting way with the changing pattern of employment in this country, which is one of the principal reasons why this subject is so important. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill) dealt with the interesting question of the greater emphasis on the service industries rather than the older, physically producing industries, as one might say. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Binns) gave us a moving picture, which impressed me deeply because he put the matter so clearly, of the craftsman whose value to himself and his employer has changed so suddenly by the introduction of automation.

I should like to feel, as I believe he would, that if we in this country have been rather slow, as I believe we have, in the introduction of these new industrial techniques which are so vital to our industrial future, nevertheless if, by our slowness, we can take these human problems fully into account, we may be able to surge forward much faster later and escape some of the social difficulties which may inevitably arise in some other countries where the purely industrial techniques have been pushed faster than has progress with the human problem.

I wish particularly to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr on introducing this subject today in his most constructive speech, to some parts of which I should like to refer later. It is particularly appropriate for a new and young Member for the City of Birmingham to bring forward this subject, because I suppose that there is no part of the country where there are more varied opportunities for young people than in the thriving industrial complex of the Midlands, where new industries and new branches of older industries are continually developing. The more opportunities there are, the more important it is that the children and their parents should have the best possible advice in choosing from this rich fare, so to speak, which is offered to them in making their careers.

We in Birmingham are proud of our educational system and we are also proud of what is already being done by the Youth Employment Service there, particularly in the tie-up with technical education and further education, though I should like to say in fairness that the L.C.C. has a very fine record in its development of the Youth Employment Service.

More generally, I am glad that this subject has been brought forward today, because it is most important for the well-being of that service that this House should show an interest in it. I know from my Ministerial experience that the interest shown by this House in this matter has a most important effect on the development of the social services. In particular, I was very glad that my hon. Friend referred to the devoted service that is at present being given to the country by those who work in the Youth Employment Service. It is most important for them to feel that they have champions of the service in this House and that we are taking a keen interest in the development of their work. I hope this debate may be a turning point in the development of this work.

I should like to deal with the subject in a broader context. In the work of the university appointments boards, which has been going on for many years, we have seen the tremendous usefulness of careers advice. I know this best from the appointments board of my old university, the University of Cambridge. I know, also, that it has developed considerably in the University of Oxford and all the other universities.

These appointments boards were functioning when I was a young man, quite a long time ago, in the 1920s. This work has proved its value. Large firms have become aware of the value of the advice that they can get from the boards, and undergraduates have appreciated the importance of the advice that they are able to receive. Over the years the appointments boards have established relationships with a variety of large employing organisations, so that very often the boards know some years in advance the types of skills which will be needed in the future, which puts them in a better position to give advice to the young men who go to them.

The point which I want to establish is that the principle of a careers advisory service has been proved to be important and useful for the country and individually at the summit of our educational system. I think that it will be generally acceptable here that now we want to see that this same careers advisory service, allowing for all the differences in the educational system, is available to all.

Should we, then, turn to apply this principle in practice? We must admit that the careers advisory service for those in our schools has not progressed as much as the improved education which we provide in our greatly expanded educational service. It is the part of the scheme which is lagging behind. I know from experience in America that it is carried a great deal further there with very good results. We need not criticise anybody for this, or approach the matter in any critical or controversial way. It means that we have made such an improvement in the provision of education that this part of the whole scheme has fallen a little behind.

If I may look at it in a little more detail, what do we want to ensure? I do not want to enter here into any aspects that might be controversial—whether the responsibility lies with the Ministry of Education or with the Ministry of Labour. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr that we want a thoroughly constructive debate. Therefore, we do not want to concentrate on those aspects, but on ensuring that this job, which must be done between the education service and the Ministry of Labour, is best done in the interests of each child and the country.

This means that we should adopt the principle which Professor Alec Rodger, who is studying this subject in the University of London, calls "planned procrastination". In other words, we should first avoid what happens a little too often now, some cursory talk in a class towards the end of the child's school career just before he goes into industry. This is not what we want. I am sure that it will be agreed by the Minister and the House that what we want is that the child and its parents should begin to have advice as soon as it is useful.

When is that point reached? I suggest that it is about the age of 13, when the varied choices now available under the new educational system are presented to the child. The child has to choose which of these various opportunities he will take up, because at this point he is beginning to make a choice which will influence his subsequent life after school. When I referred to planned procrastination I had in mind the question whether the child making these choices at 13 should be making a choice on a directly vocational basis, or how far—and this is the more sophisticated approach of educationists nowadays—one should keep open the options the child should have because it is a little early to decide what he is going for and what his capabilities may be.

We want to see a joint operation efficiently done. To push home this point about planned procrastination, which has attracted me, I should like to give one interesting instance arising in London, where the youth employment officer talked to a girl whose parents wished her to leave school at 15 to enter the clerical grade of the Civil Service. That was quite reasonable, but the officer felt that the girl had more in her and should aim higher. He persuaded the parents to allow her to stay until she was 18 and to plan to enter the executive grade of the Civil Service. The parents agreed to this, but when she reached 18 she won an open scholarship to Oxford University.

This is perhaps an exceptional case, but it shows the advantage of the kind of advice that could be given. If the youth employment officer's advice had not been available, this girl would undoubtedly have entered an honourable occupation, but something less fruitful for her and for the country than what she was able to obtain as a result of the officer's advice.

As for the service itself, I recognise, in its present position, a position very similar to that of the Youth Service when I was Minister of Education. Then, there was a considerable degree of anxiety about its position. Looking into it, I came to the conclusion that it was vitally important that the service should itself provide a proper career. This was why I appointed Lady Albemarle and the Committee which became known afterwards as the Albemarle Committee.

I should like to remind the House, because it is very much to the point, what happened as a result. The Committee took the view, quite rightly, that a service cannot demand status. It must earn it. Therefore, the first priority is a training such as to give an acceptable and recognised qualification, and from that arose conditions of service which are comparable to those of teachers. As a result of this, changes were carried out and the Leicester college was set up, for example, to give the necessary qualifications. The scales of salaries were agreed, and the Youth Service is now recognised as one with which teachers can be interchanged.

This gives far greater stability of employment and provides a full career. I would ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour whether something of the kind might not be considered now for the Youth Employment Service. I know that work on these lines is already progressing, because my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), who was Minister of Labour in the last Government, chose, I am glad to say, Lady Albemarle to help in the consideration of conditions of service and other matters relating to the Youth Employment Service.

I very much hope that something constructive will arise from that. Knowing Lady Albemarle—and hon. Members recognise her great competence and her interest in these social problems—I am sure that it is very likely that she will come forward with constructive suggestions. This is very important. I believe that, as a result, the service could be set up in such a way that it would improve its capacity to carry out the work which the House wishes it to do.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr that the name "Youth Employment Service" is something that has a ring of the past about it, that it is not appropriate today, and that we would be wise to come forward with a new name, such as Careers Advisory Service. This would strike the appropriate note of the service which is to be rendered and would encourage everybody in the country to realise the advantages that can come from the improvement of the service.

12.30 p.m.

Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)

I welcome an opportunity to speak in this debate for many reasons. I am particularly interested in the Motion. I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) in paying tribute to his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) for drawing attention to the prospect and need for the improvement of the Youth Employment Service. I am sure that the House cannot but take seriously the specific points which have been made.

Having entrusted responsibility to the service in its essential duty of watching over the interests of younger people, we must face things as they are. I am always ready to give credit for all the good work undertaken by youth employment officers. Their service, as has been said, is closely linked with the schools in giving advice to young people about to leave school and seek their first jobs, and it is widely appreciated by thousands of parents. But it must not be forgotten that in many areas youth employment officers have a very difficult task in searching out openings for careers, and employment especially where school leavers, in spite of their qualifications and aptitudes, do not have much choice in a range of careers. The whole subject of the Youth Employment Service calls for our closest attention.

Our minds are perplexed sometimes when we try to grapple with the problem of the wastage of young people who are unable to obtain satisfactory employment. But it must always be part of our approach not to be discouraged by interests which, we feel, are determined by economic design in inhibiting the aspirations of young people and denying them employment.

Honest criticism is the best proof of zeal in the service of an idea. What we cannot tolerate, and never could tolerate, is a section of the nation being unskilled and jobless, having to exist alongside those who are more fortunate and engaged in industrial work, benefiting as producers and consumers from our economic life.

The Motion points to the need to help young people to choose, secure and settle down in employment. I agree entirely with any objective designed to promote the further development of the Youth Employment Service, though I must say that it is always hard to sustain lofty enthusiasm at a time when it is assumed that an efficiently functioning industrial system will provide new careers and employment through the expansion of the private and public sectors while, at the same time, there is always frustration and discouragement for those who cannot find careers.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr spoke with great emphasis of the technological revolution and the need for vocational guidance. But, when we speak of helping young people to settle down in employment, we must recognise that they are facing a turbulent world of extraordinary and accelerating change. Fierce competition for markets, the need for industrial firms to adopt work study methods as a means of increasing production, reducing costs and widening profit margins—all these things are a product of the forces of production and competition. Old ideas, like old habits, die hard, but this penultimate step requires the retention of craft instincts against the encroachment of mechanical pressures, because jobs are disappearing under the impact of highly efficient, progressive and less costly machines.

Where there is less security now for careers, for instance, in coal mining, shipbuilding and the aircraft industry, new skills will have to be taught to the displaced young people. Yet the existing schemes for retraining them in new skills are inadequate. It appears that we have not yet begun to face the full implications of such rapid change, and while, no doubt, the pace will become faster, it will have to be accepted that industrial education for our young people should be a continuous process of adaptation throughout life.

The hon. Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill), in his well thought out, well delivered maiden speech, pointed to the greatly changing pattern of industrial processes in America, which is having a significant effect. We can see how this is affecting young people. In the United States, technological changes have proceeded faster than they have here, and even more serious is the fact that many people have accepted that they will never hold jobs for very long, coming to realise that there is no place for them in the labour force.

The lesson to be learned from this state of affairs is that, if hardship is to be eliminated, major changes must be made to adapt the youth employment and training schemes to a period of great change. It may well be that this raises wider and more difficult issues, but it has particular importance in relation to young people who have never had the good fortune to benefit from any kind of career. In practice, I know of a great many who are at present engaged only in what I would term the kind of work which is based on temporary and fleeting needs for labour. A very serious problem faces the Youth Employment Service for this reason today.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr drew attention also to industrial training and apprenticeship schemes and suggested improvements. This brings me to the main objective of the Industrial Training Act 1964, which is to ensure an adequate supply of properly trained men and women at all levels of industry and to secure an improvement in the quality and efficiency of industrial training. But, like the hon. Gentleman, I believe that such enhanced facilities will by no means constitute fulfilment of all that is required. We do not investigate the twists and turns of events which react against young people in finding employment and choosing careers, and it is all the more important for us to understand what further changes are in store.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr spoke, in emotional terms, of the frustration and disillusionment of young people who cannot find employment. My hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett), in his admirable and well constructed maiden speech, appealed for better career opportunities for all young people who are now teeming out of the technical colleges. But in my constituency, where the closing down of industry has had an unfavourable and depressing effect, I feel that it is most essential that the young people should be given better opportunity of training and making their choice of a career in order to enlist their determination and application, which alone can command success. I always think that, for reasons of either age or inadequate education, promise of jobs or careers is a cruel and dangerous hoax to those who are at a dead end, but I must say that, while the apprenticeship system, in many places, has never been so virile, it is also the case that failure of young people to get apprenticeships to skilled trades mostly rests upon insecure foundations, and this destroys all their zest and confidence of outlook.

There is nothing strange or mysterious about this. It is a crisis which is of vital concern to a great number of people. While we value the tolerance of those who are tied down through no fault of their own, there is also a great deal that we wish to preserve, and not least is the habit of learning to live together. We must save what is good and help the young people to advance, to devote themselves to industrial training and to habituate themselves to industrial work.

I admit that there are limiting conditions, because most of the new entrants to the labour force fall into two groups—those who are qualified and the unqualified. This means that some may find jobs for which they were trained, but for others no vacancies exist. But because of the feeling of futility about any sort of provision in the future, I suggest that it is time for a fresh appraisal, and a survey of restricted industrial development in my constituency should be made to meet the need for appropriate measures to be taken to offset the serious lack of industrial occupations. I realise that I should be completely out of order in giving an account in detail of public misfortune which has emanated from industrial decay in my constituency, but it is with equal conviction that I must draw attention to the very special problem of young people who can never hope to be provided with the kind of employment that the area once attracted. While we cannot separate the picture from the general facts which have produced so much frustration, such a drastic alteration appears to be at the beginning of greater troubles.

There seems to be every reason to conclude that the analytical concept of the changing pattern of life itself and the attitude in the minds of all those who are subject to the tragic conflict in industrial change are so well pronounced that an understandable impulse exists to seek recognition of new forms of adjustment. Apart from the inevitable social consequences that would arise out of inadequate provisions to attract young people in employment, I believe that if we fail in this primary task we shall not only suffer a great loss of wealth but also condemn them to frustration of all their hopes and ambitions.

When we listen to lectures on the working out of alternatives for the development of young people's physical and mental abilities and a wider preparation for living, we need to be quite clear about providing the opportunities. Although it is true that any course of human action can properly be analysed into an end and a means, what must centre on the immediate future should be the object of offsetting endemic tendencies towards under-employment of the available sources through a better distribution of industry.

We not only recognise our responsibilities and obligations, but we cannot rest content until every endeavour has been made to improve the opportunities for young people to reap the reward of economic activity. I have always been impressed by a medieval conception that justice consists in the preservation by man of a balance between capacities and opportunities. I believe that there is nothing exceptional in a society which possesses the materials and the means of development for every one of its members so that they will be able to enjoy a high standard of living when an individual or group insists that that is its right. In the circumstances, I am reinforced by the plea that every attempt should be made to win the maximum confidence of young people.

12.46 p.m.

Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) upon his choice of subject, as the speeches have proved how necessary it is to have this debate. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill); in Devonport we knew his former colleague very well indeed. I sympathise very much with the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett), as we are lucky in Devonport in having an apprenticeship scheme at the Royal Dockyard. Perhaps I might also add that I have had great pleasure in walking over Ilkley Moor and fishing in the beautiful rivers of the constituency of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Binns). [An HON. MEMBER: "What did the hon. Lady catch?"] I caught trout. We have very much appreciated those contributions.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) proved that the debate was needed when he talked about the extraordinary changes at the present time. This is why the Youth Employment Service is so very important, as it has a tremendous part to play during the coming changes in helping young people to get the right type of job.

Leaving school and taking one's first job is probably the most critical moment in a young person's life. Many young people have come from kind and sheltered homes and have then led a sheltered life in school, and when they leave school, sometimes at the early age of 15, to take up a job in this very competitive world, it is very difficult indeed for them if they are not given the right advice and help to take the right type of job. A wrong decision can make or mar the child's life. Consequently, youth employment officers and careers officers are extremely important, particularly at the present time.

I agree with the Motion that there is need to help young people to choose and settle down in employment which is suitable to their individual capacity. This is of paramount importance. I quote a poem written by an eleven-years old girl, Maureen Davies: Shall I be a nurse? But not without a purse. Or shall I be a teacher? But I am not a very good speaker. Or shall I be a model? But the trouble is I wogel. Or shall I be a queen? To go upon a screen. This means that even at the very early age of 11 children are beginning to think about what is to happen to them during their life. Nevertheless, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) that it is the age of 13 that one needs to concentrate on.

It is interesting to realise that great efforts are made to find occupations for educationally sub-normal children. It is realised that they cannot find jobs for themselves, but we leave other pupils far too much in the position of having to find their own jobs. They should have the detailed consideration that educationally sub-normal children have.

I believe that the object of the service is guidance. Therefore, it is essential for those in charge of it to be highly qualified. They should have knowledge of industry—indeed, should have worked in it—and of the professions. I pay tribute here to Mrs. Ogilvie Gordon, whose vigorous campaign was carried on by the National Council of Women as far back as 1904. The National Council was the real founder of this type of service even before the employment exchanges were opened.

The Ince Committee has pointed out that there are three matters of particular importance for children leaving school:

  1. "(a) to fit them into the right jobs according to their qualifications, aptitudes and interests.
  2. (b) to ensure as far as possible that the limited supply of juveniles is distributed in accord with national needs.
  3. (c) to divert them from jobs harmful to their health or character or leading to no suitable career."
All this is important. It has been pointed out by my hon. Friend, referring to the Newsom and Robbins Reports, that it is clear that education will in future be accelerated and that there have been a great many changes in the types of jobs, together with an increasing need for more technological specialisation. Thus, the job of vocational guidance and counselling is becoming more important.

When a member of the United Nations Status of Women Commission, I was always impressed, when we discussed education and careers for young people, by how much more detailed was the work done abroad, particularly by the United States and other countries, when compared with Britain. I was always a little behind in being able to put forward ideas, because most of the other countries had much more adequate systems, particularly those in Europe.

If a young person gets into the wrong job it leads to frustration, which may be one of the causes of delinquency. There is no proof of this, but I am a member of the committee of a remand home and there it is found that a great many of the boys who have not been well education, or have been unable to assimilate education, ended up in dead-end jobs. Then they have suddenly begun to develop and so have had to let off their energy in other ways. It is interesting to find that although the boys spend only about three weeks in the remand home there is quite a demand for education.

I would like to see youth employment officers also going to remand homes to see if they cannot help young people to find better jobs or jobs more suitable to their natural instincts. I feel that, in many cases, it was inadequate jobs that caused them to come in conflict with the law. We take a great deal of trouble to have them psychoanalysed and to call for headmasters' and other reports. So it would be beneficial if we could also have the co-operation of youth employment officers.

I want to stress another thing which youth employment officers should do. This is to keep in touch with parents. Co-operation between them is absolutely essential and is not now sufficiently carried out. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield mentioned the question of co-operation with parents and told us of a girl who was persuaded to stay on longer at school.

In many cases, as was stated by the hon. Member for Blaydon, boys follow their fathers into the same trade, but that trade may be already changing, and therefore they need the help and knowledge of a youth employment officer to discuss the future with parents and bring them to realise what is happening and the need for other jobs to be considered. A tremendous amount can be done by co-operation between parents and youth employment officers.

The youth employment officer is the Cinderella of the welfare services. He has no particular status. He does a first-class job and is very much overworked. As far as I can find out, many of these officers have case-loads of over 600 at a time and, as they are supposed to keep an eye on children for about three years, this means that at any one time they may have about 1,800 under their care. In the secondary modern schools, children between 15 and 16 get the least help where it is most needed, because 80 per cent.—630,000—of the total of 726,400 school leavers are under 16. How is it possible to give all these children adequate attention?

I, too, was impressed by the article by Mr. Hoxter, who was Chairman of the Institute of Youth Employment Officers. I would like to see his suggestions put into action. I believe that the school counsellor should be one of the staff of a school and able to get a knowledge of the children while they are at school. If there are between 300 and 500 children in school, the counsellor will be able to get to know them, at least when they arrive at the age of 13.

I would like to see vocational guidance officers and vocational guidance advisers, as it is essential to divide the jobs. There is a great deal of work to be done to study the capacities of children and to be in constant contact with the parents. One wants to see, in the last year of their school life, the children given the opportunity to consult the school counsellor about the type of jobs they can take.

If a child is to do clerical work, he might be given extra studies in clerical work so that he will enter the job with some knowledge of how to address an envelope and so on—which is so often not the case. If he is to go into manual work, he might be given extra carpentry classes. If he is to go into a shop, he should be given a knowledge of the retail trade. If he is to go into a factory, he should be given the opportunity to visit it. The children should be given a chance to see these things before making up their minds. As has been mentioned, there are often organised talks by people from factories and professions. Organised visits to factories and other places—I believe this is done in some areas—would be very helpful.

The vocational guidance counsellors might be based outside the school, serving a whole group of schools. In some areas it is not easy to find jobs and this co-ordination would therefore be of help. He should keep in touch with firms to see that young persons are released to continue their education on day release and were really settling down. This cannot be done by the school counsellor, who should be a member of the staff of the school but who needs someone to do outside work.

The vocational adviser should be a senior officer of the staff of the local council or Ministry of Labour to plan and to co-ordinate the work of the other two. It is extremely important, with the increasing mobility of labour, that we should have such officials. In the West Country, for example, we have not a great number of suitable jobs, and if the children have to go to places like Oxford or Birmingham they should be able to have help and advice of a vocational guidance adviser. In this way I feel that these people may be helped to make their way in the very tough world in which we live. There might be less delinquency, and I am certain there would be fewer breakdowns in health.

The number of strikes which occur in Sweden is small. There they have an integrated system of vocational guidance and "work orientation". It is thought that this has contributed tremendously to industrial peace. In this country, so far as I know, there is no university which offers a degree or a post-graduate course in vocational psychology. At a time when sixth form pupils are so highly educated they may need someone with a degree to advise them. There is a Chair of Occupational Psychology at the London University, and the Ministry of Education has two one-term courses at Huddersfield Training College. As has been mentioned by my right hon. Friend, there is a Research Advisory Centre at Cambridge. I should have thought that this is not adequate for the present needs.

It has been said by Sir Alfred Owen "that 50 per cent. of our youth do not think in terms of having a career but only in terms of getting a job." They do not feel that making a career is something that they have to get on with immediately.

When I was considering taking part in this debate I read some of the interviews given to various people who wanted jobs. There was a report of an interview with a pupil by a youth employment officer. The question was asked, "Do you play the violin, are you good at needlework?" The third year sociology student said, "No". The statement was then made, "Well, I should say that you have poor manual dexterity. You had better join the police force." This was a rather astonishing statement to an individual who was completing a degree in sociology.

I feel that there is a need not only for jobs but also for employment officers to be able to advise about the right technical college or advanced college of technology, or even about the right university, which students should attend. I should like to give an example of the difficulties confronting boys entering employment at the age of 15 to 17. Not more than one-third enter into apprenticeships or do any work leading to a recognised profession. I think it one of the greatest problems that young people cannot find training places for skilled or professional jobs even when they want them. Secondly, I feel that full employment reduces the pressure on parents to urge young people to undertake jobs with a guaranteed security.

Young people know that they can get jobs and so they do not take one which guarantees security in the future. Many young people tend to take a number of jobs. I quote, for example, the case of a boy who was employed as a messenger with one firm for a month and for another firm for two months and a third firm for two months. He was a bath attendant for six months, a threader for six month, a salvage boy for six months, a bottler for three months, a sawyer for one and a half months, a packer for one month, a garage hand for two months, a labourer for five months and a labourer of a different type for fourth months. He had 12 jobs in 39½ months. This shows the danger of not getting placed in an adequate job. The Crowther Report refers to those other objectives of education which have little or nothing to do with vocation, and that is the dancer about education which is just education and not leading to a vocation.

I should like to refer to difficulties which confront girls and to quote from the book of Thelma Veness: All my life I had despised people who thought that it was useless for a girl to take up a career because she would marry and the training would be wasted. But this is silly as I have proved because once the children Lave grown up, or if anything happens to the husband, she is trained to take up a job and earn money. It is rather interesting to find that girls who go to technical schools mostly decide to continue work after marriage either on a full-time or a part-time basis. In the 1961 census there were 249,800 economically active people in the United Kingdom with scientific and technological qualifications. Of these, only 18,300 were women. Among the 140,000 technologists and engineers there are only 320 women. I am glad to be able to say that on 22nd January the Post Office sent me a note referring to my concern that the Post Office engineering student apprenticeships had not so far been open to women as well as to men students and stating that it had been decided to open them to women. This will provide another outlet.

The Zuckerman Report in 1962 stressed the shortage of scientific and technological manpower. In 1960 a review stated that there was a shortage of able and qualified men and that too little use was made in industry of suitably trained women. Youth employment officers could encourage girls to take up these jobs. There are plenty of openings.

A team based on the London School of Economics looked into the question of the employment of girls and inquired into the factors affecting women in responsible positions in industry. The Central Office of Information made a wide range survey. A total of 25 per cent. of girls say that they will not work after marriage but at least 60 per cent. intend to remain in work. Many return to work after their children reach school age; 63 per cent. said that they wanted part-time work at some stage in their married life. I hope, therefore, that I have proved that it is worth while training girls and that a youth employment officer could be very helpful if placing them in jobs and keeping in contact with them when they are married, through the vocational guidance adviser if this suggestion is accepted.

Why do women want to go back to work? Mainly it is because they need the money. Some said that it was because they hoped to have a chance to get to the top in the job in which they had been working. Others because the work would make them feel that they were being useful. A high proportion of boys and girls are still in what I would term stopgap employment at 17 in comparison with their scholastic achievements. I hope that this point, as well as the other useful points which have been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, will be considered. I hope that we shall make every effort to discover suitable occupations for maladjustments where they exist. I support what has been said by my hon. Friend. I hope that young people will be encouraged to persevere and not change their jobs for frivolous reasons.

It is becoming increasingly important to give hints about the right use of leisure. If people are to enjoy a full life, they have to know how to spend their leisure time. That is why I am anxious that there shall be counsellors or advisers who can keep in touch with young people when they are at work. It is extremely important, too, that we should help young people in any way possible, either directly or indirectly through their parents, and inform them of all the other agencies which are available and about which so few of them know—I do not mean employment agencies—and with which they can get in touch to help them in their working lives.

For these reasons, I have much pleasure in supporting the Motion so ably put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, and I hope that it will receive the acceptance of the House.

1.10 p.m.

Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)

I rise at this moment, not with any wish or thought of curtailing this most interesting debate, but because I understand that the Minister has some important engagements which he has to fulfil. I therefore thought that it would be helpful to him if I were to make my speech ahead of his so that he might note the points which I wish to raise. I know that several of my hon. Friends and other hon. Members wish to speak, but I hope that they will not mind if I intervene now.

I should like to congratulate most warmly my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Parr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) on choosing this most important subject for debate today. I think that the speeches we have heard have shown how valuable it is to have such a debate, and I am sure that it will be welcomed by those in the service who, perhaps, sometimes think that their work does not attract the attention which it should.

I should like to congratulate the three Members who have made very interesting maiden speeches—the hon. Members for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) and Keighley (Mr. Binns), and my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill). Without wishing to appear partisan, I would say that my hon. Friend's speech showed an extraordinary depth of understanding of the problem. He made some very valuable points. This in no way detracts from the speeches of the two hon. Members opposite, which were also extremely interesting.

What struck me was that the first four speeches were made by hon. Members who entered the House at the last General Election. That is surely a very unusual happening in any debate in this House. It shows the value of the introduction of fresh blood and ideas into the House at ensuing elections. The blood is not always of the colour which some of us would wish, but, nevertheless, it does a great deal of good. I thought it most unusual and encouraging that four hon. Members who had entered the House in these circumstances should all attach great importance to this subject.

I could say a great deal on this subject. The difficulty is to know what to refer to in such a wide-ranging debate. In considering what I might say today, I was looking again at that very interesting Report which was produced in connection with another matter, but which is closely related to the subject which we are discussing—the Albemarle Report. It seemed to me that a fitting introduction to one's comments on this subject was to be found in paragraph 110 of that Report: In entering this changing world, some young people from school may suffer from the disappearance of familiar landmarks: and miss the comfortable unambitious earmarking for 'Dad's trade', which was once so much a feature of industrial society. Others, more lively-minded, may chafe to find themselves working under men whose thinking is out of line with present educational levels, and suffer frustration through inability to contribute their full intelligence to the problems of their employment. One thing is sure: in the next few years"— this was written in 1958— young people will be entering employment in conditions of change and fluidity which will add to the strains of adolescence and the problems of adjustment to the adult world. That seems to me to sum up very neatly the problem which confronts those in the Youth Employment Service. This is the basis of some of the problems which have been highlighted and stressed by hon. Members on both sides today.

Of course, we have had other Reports. I should like to quote from the Crowther Report. Following on the quotation which I have just given, there is a quotation in paragraph 182 of the Crowther Report which seems equally applicable. After referring to the concern which was felt about the children of parents who left school at 14 years of age and the problem of their being able to realise how their children should be integrated into society, the Report states: … parents are often in no position to judge for themselves. Their knowledge of what is valuable above their own economic level is necessarily limited. Will a longer time at school make it more likely that their boy or girl will get a job with better prospects than if he left now and relied on part-time education? In such points they must take advice without much possibility of checking it. That seems to me to highlight the importance of the service and of the careers masters and mistresses at the schools and shows the very potent need there is for doing all that we can to extend the service and to make it as effective as possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, in opening the debate, touched on an interesting point when he said that there was some liability of misunderstanding about what the service seeks to do. He suggested that the title, Youth Employment Service, might be altered. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) took up this point and suggested that it might be called the Careers Advisory Service. A rose by any other name smells as sweet, and if there is something in this suggestion—and there may well be—no doubt the Minister will wish to consider it. I see no reason why we should cling to the old name. If a new name would give a better impression, I hope that serious consideration will be given to changing the present one.

In the past there has been a good deal of feeling among some people about where the responsibility for the Service should lie. One or two hints have been given in this debate that responsibility should, perhaps, have rested in quarters other than the Ministry of Labour. Hon. Members will not think it surprising if I say that I felt that the Ministry of Labour was the right home for it. I am content that for a very short spell the responsibility should lay in the hands of hon. Members opposite. When we return to office, we shall hope to take it over in the same Ministry. I believe that the Ministry of Labour is the proper home for it and that it enables the Ministry to tie in its various other employment activities, and the knowledge that the Ministry has to deal with other aspects of employment must be a help to it in trying effectively to refurbish the service.

One other factor which has not been commented on very much is the somewhat hybrid nature of the service. While a large proportion of it is carried on through the local authorities, there is still a substantial part of the country where it is carried on direct by the Ministry of Labour through its own offices. It is worth considering whether it is right that this hybrid nature should continue, or whether the entire service should be carried on by one or the other. There is no need to go back into the history of how it arose, but the very existence of these two systems gives one the opportunity to consider which is the best method of running the service.

Inevitably, under a local authority service there are variations. This is one of the penalties which we pay for local government. In certain areas there is a greater direct interest and a greater concern, and, although the central Government, through its grant aid system, is able to create some degree of similarity, there is a variation, whereas with a Ministry-controlled service we can ensure that standards are maintained at the levels laid down. This is something which we accept at all levels in all types of local government.

The existence of this difference in the service enables us to pinpoint or, perhaps, highlight one particular aspect, and that is the career prospects of the youth employment officer.

We talk a lot about the need to prevent young people from getting into dead-end jobs. The hon. Member for Keighley spoke about youngsters going straight to bingo halls and the like. It is, however, ironic that the very officers who themselves have the job of seeing that people do not go into dead-end jobs could well be in dead-end jobs themselves. This is a problem that arises from the direct effect of having the service under the control of local authorities. Officers who are in the Ministry's own service have their career structure and are able, if they show ability, to move higher. This is, therefore, a point which I ask the Minister to consider. I do not stress it more than that, but it deserves consideration.

My hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, in his most interesting speech, touched on a number of matters. I will not attempt to follow him in a great many of them, but I should like to pick up one point at least. He talked about the need for special advisers for people with special problems. This is a valuable point and, again, it is probably something which would have to be dealt with more in a centralised system because the cost to local authorities, except the very large ones, of providing special advisers would be very great. Whether something more can be done in this way needs to be considered.

In this whole field, one must see how the experience of the last years has carried us forward and where it will lead and guide us. I recall a very interesting interview which I had with Lady Albemarle just over a year ago when I was Minister. Lady Albemarle is a very charming albeit a very vigorous proponent of any matter which she takes up, and I give her full credit for that. It is this keenness and enthusiasm of hers which has been a tremendous help in youth considerations over the last decade and I pay my full tribute to her.

Lady Albemarle and I had a long talk about the various problems of the Youth Employment Service. Afterwards, she kindly and generously undertook, with the help of the General Purposes Committee of the National Youth Employment Council, to make a special survey of the problems that existed. I should like to know from the Minister whether he expects to receive the report of Lady Albemarle's Committee's work fairly soon. With her knowledge and experience, we can look for wise guidance from it. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us something about it and that we may, therefore, get guidance on the ways in which the National Youth Employment Council under Lady Albemarle's leadership suggests we should go.

In the meantime, while I was at the Ministry we were proceeding—and I presume that this is continuing—to try to do more in helping forward matters of increasing staffs and the grading and standard of staff, as well as the important question of training. I do not know whether the Minister can tell us something more about the position which has been reached in regard to the training of youth employment officers. Several hon. Members have referred to this important subject and to the need to improve training and to get the highest possible standards.

I do not have the same facilities for research on these matters as I did until a few months ago, but I have been looking up some of the back records and I find that the growth and the intake at Lamorbey Park has grown substantially over the years. I shall be grateful if the Minister can tell us how many people are now being trained there and how the new training centre development at Manchester is going forward.

The report of the National Youth Service, which appeared in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" at the end of 1963, indicated that those establishments would have together at least 80 full-time students a year, but this was only up to the end of September, 1963. I have inquired whether a further report has been issued. Although it is over a year since that one appeared, apparently the next one has not yet appeared.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Richard Marsh)

It is a triennial publication.

Mr. Godber

The report to which I have referred was taken from the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" and was simply for the year ended September, 1963. I assume that the delay in the publication of a further report has been because the officials in all Ministries have had a difficult job in training their new masters during the last three months. This takes a little time and it may have dislocated some of the normal functions which they have to carry out. In any event, I hope that we will soon get a further report. Perhaps the Minister, in his reply, can touch upon the numbers who are being trained at the two centres.

Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can also say whether further work is going forward at Birkbeck College, with its short courses, and whether any expansion is contemplated. It is on the standard of training which we are able to reach for these youth employment officers that everything else depends. We must train them well and ensure that they are fully qualified for the work which they have to carry out and we must provide sufficient of them.

Can the Minister tell us anything about the ratio of youth employment officers to the number of people under their control at any given time? The figures over the last few years have shown an improvement but the hon. Gentleman will, I think, agree that there is room for still further improvement. All this will be helpful if the hon. Gentleman can give us guidance in regard to it.

The hon. Member for Keighley, in his interesting maiden speech, referred to the problems that arise in regard not only to the Youth Employment Service, but to young people entering industry generally. He said something on apprenticeships with which I agreed strongly when he said that the five-year apprenticeship tends in many cases to deter youngsters, particularly because of the alternative employments that are available. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is right in this.

I am equally sure that it is right to consider whether apprenticeships generally cannot be reduced in length of time. I do not want to downgrade or lower the standards of apprenticeship—certainly not—but I believe that in present-day conditions and with the implementation of the Industrial Training Act and the greater opportunities for higher standards of training, it is right, in the interests of the youngsters themselves, of industry and of the nation, that we should think in terms of reducing the period of apprenticeship generally. The building trade has already started on this with a reduction from five to four years over most of the country. We want, however, to look further ahead and I do not see why it should not be possible, with good training schemes going forward all over the country, to see apprenticeship generally coming down to a three-year period.

I realise that this is going a little bit outside the normal scope of the debate, but as the hon. Member had referred to it I thought it right to mention it. This is one of the things which, under the Industrail Training Act, Sir John Hunter's Central Training Council will obviously want to consider and give advice about. I believe that this is a way in which the jobs of apprentices can be made more attractive to the young people. This is extremely important.

The other aspect is the relationship between the careers masters in the schools and the Youth Employment Service, on the one hand, and the relationship between the youth employment officer and the industries in his area and opportunities and openings for employment. The youth employment officer has to build up a very close relationship with both the teachers in the schools and with industrialists and others with whom he hopes to place the youngsters. He has to get to know and understand them all. He must get into very close relationship with the careers masters and mistresses. I hope that more and more is being done in this way to ensure complete understanding. In this way, a great deal can be done to help the youth employment officer if the careers masters and mistresses take a keen interest in these matters and do not merely take them on as one more duty among the very heavy duties that some teachers have to tackle.

Turning to another point, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East, talked about the number of people at work today being now over 24 million, and went on to call attention to the fact that the number actually in manufacture today has dropped to about half, the other half being mostly in services and distribution. This is a very important point, because it means that the Youth Employment Service and the careers masters and mistresses have to be thinking more and more in terms of switches which are coming about—gradually, perhaps, but coming about, so that we have to think of this in relation to the long-term interests of the youngsters and the way in which a higher percentage of them may be perhaps encouraged to turn to some of these other trades and opportunities.

In the United States it has gone much further. The first Report of the Manpower Research Unit which the Ministry of Labour published last year made it very clear that the trend in this country is following very much the pattern of developments in the States. We are seeing more and more people being required for the service and distributive industries and fewer for actual manufacture. If we get a greater degree of automation and cybernation this trend will go on, and, this being so, I am sure that in the long term the career structure must require more people in these distributive and service industries.

Of course, under the Industrial Training Act this will be assisted by the way in which the industrial training boards are set up for various industries, but the important thing is to interest our youngsters in these various different industries.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

The figure of 12 million is mentioned, but that is possibly the total number who are engaged in manufacturing industry as a whole. It also includes in manufacturing industry a great many people already on the distributive side, the accounts side, the sales side, the draughtsman side, and so on. The actual producers of the initial materials are probably down even now to 5 million or 6 million.

Mr. Godber

Yes, my hon. Friend well may be right on this. I took the hon. Member's figures. I have not got a copy of the Manpower Research Unit's Report with me, but I was thinking that it showed about 40 per cent. in manufacture and under this category. I quite agree that even this could include a considerable number of others. Whatever the number, the point is the same between both sides—we accept that this change is taking place, so it is a very important consideration.

As I say, in the development of the industrial training boards the actual training can be carried out and accommodated through wise advice, but the important thing is that the Youth Employment Service should realise that this trend is taking place, and act accordingly.

It seems to me that the issues are greater training facilities for the youth employment officers and a sufficient number of youth employment officers and consideration of the relationship between the careers service which is under the Ministry of Labour and those services under the local authorities. If there are local authorities who, perhaps, are not giving sufficient thought and encouragement to recruiting the best type of youth employment officers, I hope that their attention will be drawn to the need, so that they can do more in assisting in getting the right type of people for this work. Also, another issue is greater facilities and opportunities for discussion with the careers staffs at schools.

Here let me interject that I was very struck, on reading a national newspaper only the other day, by the way in which a careers master thought up an excellent idea, in that he had encouraged a number of pupils who had left the school only the previous year to come back and tell next year's class how they were getting on and what they thought of life outside. He made the point that these youngsters seemed far more ready to accept advice and guidance from their own colleagues who had gone out in the world, and set more store by their reactions, than those of the older generation. This is an ordinary, human reaction which one can well understand. It struck me that that idea might well be followed up with profit, and I would suggest that careers masters might think about it.

Many valuable points have been put forward by those hon. Members who have spoken. The Youth Employment Service has been built up in a way which does great credit to those involved in it, but we all recognise, I think, that more is needed and that the further we go forward, and with the still greater opportunities, nobody should be satisfied with what has been achieved. I hope that the Minister will give us some encouraging news today about the way the service has developed, and is developing. If he can he will certainly have our support.

1.35 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Richard Marsh)

First of all I apologise if I have to leave before the end of this debate, although my right hon. Friend will be coming to sit in to listen to the rest of it. I have another appointment to go to, as hon. Members on both sides will, I am sure, appreciate; at the moment the Ministry of Labour has one or two problems to cope with, and there is inevitably a certain amount of running around.

One of the attractions about this place is the way in which the House has so many different moods and so many different attitudes. If on Tuesday we had one of the worst experiences I have ever known in this place—and it was pretty appalling, and, I think, is accepted as such by both sides of the House, and got a good deal of unfortunate publicity—so today we have had one of the best debates and seen Parliament at its best doing this sort of job.

My only fear is that it may get very little publicity outside, for although this is a very important subject, it is the sort which sometimes seems to be missed among the other bigger and much more dramatic subjects—though, to my mind, it is more important than some of the things with which we have to deal.

What the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) has done is to produce a debate noticeable for the very constructive attitude of everyone who has taken part in it. His own contribution was, if I may say so, not only interesting to listen to but will be helpful to read afterwards.

This has been a memorable debate also—and I do think it has been an unusual debate—for having had three maiden speakers on a Friday. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill) produced a speech which was very attractive as well as very informative. He mentioned his predecessor. If there is only one thing which Members of Parliament know far more about than anybody else, certainly that is other Members of Parliament. On this subject we are experts. I would say to the hon. Gentleman that his predecessor was very popular on both sides of the House. He was not only liked, but was also very much respected. I can offer the right hon. Gentleman no greater tribute than to say that I think the former Member's place is very ably filled by him, and we are grateful for having him with us. He mentioned the question of training facilities in general. This is primarily a matter for the industrial training boards established under the Industrial Training Act.

Then there was my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) who, in a very impressive maiden speech, dealt with the very important question of the provision of training arrangements for young people. We are moving ahead very quickly indeed on this.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), in the period he spent with the Ministry of Labour, did a great deal of work in this field and on this whole question of youth advisory work, and he is certainly entitled to a great deal of credit. Indeed, one of the sad things is that because of the peculiar political views which the right hon. Gentleman holds it is unlikely that he will ever again be able to give us his advice as a Minister, but if, eventually, he is prepared to consider becoming a civil servant, my right hon. Friend will consider that.

Mr. Godber

What is the transfer fee?

Mr. Marsh

To be serious again, the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for instituting the Industrial Training Act which came into force last year, and we are now hoping to deal with this at a very rapid pace. By the end of the year, about one-third of the total working population of this country will be covered by industrial training boards, and one hopes that within about three years the whole range of industry will be covered in this way. It will be the job of these boards to lay down detailed standards of training for the particular crafts and occupations within their industries.

Here I should like to sound a note of caution. One of the things which worries me, particularly on the question of training, is that whenever people start talking about training in industry, they almost invariably talk exclusively about apprenticeships. This is understandable, but there is a real need for the training of operatives in industry. There is a need, too, for the training of supervisory staffs, and also for those people who do important jobs, but who do not have specific craft skills. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides will appreciate how important trained secretarial assistance can be, and I think that this process should go much further than apprentices.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend made a specific suggestion about the possibility of producing apprenticeship training schools in his area. This is a slightly different subject, but it is a matter which can only be dealt with by industry itself. One cannot train craftsmen outside of industry, though it is very important that in the course of their training craftsmen should have off-the-job academic training as well. At the moment the Ministry is providing facilities for the training of about 700 first-year apprentices. These are pilot courses to show industry what it could do itself, and indeed the boards may wish to go further in this respect.

My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Binns) in his maiden speech mentioned the problems of apprentices, and a number of hon. Members dealt with the length of training periods. I propose to deal with these two points, because they hang together very much. A close friend of mine, an ardent and enthusiastic educationalist, told me that the biggest problem in education, and with educationalists, is that so few people bear in mind the fact that many children go to work after they leave school. This connection between industry and school is very important indeed.

There have been references to the length of apprenticeships and the length of training periods. Again, this is something which is being negotiated within industry at the moment, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me when I say that far too often too little credit is given to those trade unions which, quite recently, have looked at the length of their apprenticeship periods and have cut them down. Whether they should be cut down even further is a subject which I think ought to be dealt with in a separate debate, but the training boards, on which there are leading trade unionists, will bear in mind the length of training necessary for particular skills, or the type of training that is necessary for them, and it will be interesting to see the results.

My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley mentioned with pride that he had been born and bred in Keighley. He has a long record of service to Keighley, because, on looking at his record, I see that he was not only born and bred there, but has been a Councillor and Alderman of the County Council, Mayor of the Borough of Keighley, President of the Keighley branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and perhaps proudest of all, President of the Keighley Labour Party. I do not think that there are any other posts which he could have held there.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of important points. He raised the specific question of the number of students in training at Manchester and Lamorbey. At present there are 40 students in training at Lamorbey, and 20 at Manchester. This is the highest number there has ever been in training, and both these centres are filled to capacity. There are plans for expanding Manchester in September of this year. Short courses of four weeks for 48 students are held at Birkbeck College each year. In addition there is now a similar annual course lasting four weeks for 24 students held at a centre outside London. One sees, therefore, that there is a growth in the training provided.

The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned, as did many others, the question of career prospects for youth employment officers. This is extremely important. If we want good people, they have to be assured not only of a reasonable income when they start, but of the possibility of being able to use their capabilities to the full throughout the rest of their lives. No one wants to stay in one place too long.

There is no problem with the Ministry's youth employment officers because they enjoy the same scope as the Ministry's other civil servants, and at the end of their period of duty they are transferred to another sphere in which they can continue in the normal way. Local authority officers can, of course, apply for other senior posts outside their own areas within the same field. As near as I can ascertain, at the moment about 37 per cent. of local authority youth employment officers are in grades above the bottom grades, in a salary range of £1,100 to £1,500. In addition, there are about 100 chief officers in the salary range of £1,500 to something in excess of £2,500, so there are career prospects for these people, and it would be a mistake, and most unfortunate, if it went out from this House that the job of a youth employment officer is a dead-end one. It is not a dead-end job. It is one with considerable scope.

The question of the title of the service was also raised during the debate. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. In another capacity I once took part in Whitley Council discussions which lasted for about two years about whether people should be called technicians or technologists. I was never able to see why this aroused so much feeling. Names are important, but I do not think that they are as important as some people sometimes suggest, though I agree that there is something in what hon. Members have said today.

We must remember that the service has a responsibility to employers as well as to young people. It is essential, in the interests of young people, that there should be this relationship with employers, and about 50 per cent. of those leaving school at the statutory leaving age obtain their first job through the Youth Employment Service, so it is to that extent an employment service, but this is a matter which needs to be looked at still further.

One thing which has emerged from this debate is that there are a number of doubts in people's minds, and a number of things which people would like looked at. This is, therefore, a good point at which to examine the whole service.

In January, 1964, the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for setting up the Working Party under Lady Albemarle, the Chairman of the National Youth Employment Council, under very wide terms of reference. I cannot anticipate the results of the inquiry, but there are a number of very important and complex problems facing the service. For example, the relationship between the Youth Employment Service and education has been questioned over and over again in the course of the debate, particularly the respective roles of the careers master and the youth employment officer. It is important, even where a school has a well-developed careers service, that it would work in close co-operation with the youth employment officer, and these respective róles need to be examined. There is probably scope for greater integration of effort in some parts of the country.

There is also a serious need to look at the relationship of the service with employers as well as with young people, because it is no good having an isolated relationship with young people. Everything depends on bringing the boy or girl into contact with employment, and this means that the service must develop close contacts not only with education but also with employers. Ideally it is the bridge between the two.

The service has to look at the work which it does for young people after they have left school. The hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) gave a classic example of a lad moving into an incredible number of jobs. I could not help wondering how long it would be before he finished as a Member of this House.

Mr. Godber

Which side?

Mr. Marsh

His initiative would appear to qualify him to be a Member of this side of the House. The extent to which he is unable to make up his mind, changes his mind and makes wrong decisions would undoubtedly qualify him for the Conservative Front Bench.

This lad represents a more difficult problem than most for the youth employment officer and the Youth Employment Service. He must have skilled advice. It is no good just giving him sympathy. He needs some professional help and advice. This is a problem at which we need to look.

The Working Party under Lady Albemarle is looking into this type of problem at the moment, and we shall have a report some time this year, probably in the summer or thereabouts. The Working Party will be commenting upon a wide range of the service. For reasons to which I will come in a moment, this is the ideal time to have that type of inquiry, because we are facing a number of changes.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr raised a specific question about the appointed factory doctors scheme and drew attention to the valuable work—which no one would dispute—by a number of dedicated people. It is recognised that the youth employment officer should have access to the necessary medical information about the young people he advises. In the case of children at school that information is available from the school report. In addition, he can obtain separate reports supplied by the school doctor on those children whose physical health handicaps are likely to affect their employment. In the case of those in employment the youth employment officer will get in touch with the appointed factory doctor and will be able to obtain advice from him. This is an important issue and it is one about which there are many differing views, as the hon. Member knows only too well. My right hon. Friend has referred this whole question to a special sub-committee of the Industrial Health Advisory Service, which will produce a further report on the subject.

The Youth Employment Service is one of the important sections of Government activity which sometimes tend to be overlooked. This is not surprising, because it is not quite as dramatic as some other things in which people tend to take an interest. But very few things have as much importance to most people as a decision on their choice of career. There are not many things in life more tragic than the plight of the man, who, one discovers, 20 or 30 years earlier chose the wrong occupation. We have all met people who were bitter and frustrated, unable to provide the service to themselves or to the community which they are capable of providing. This is what makes this job so important and so challenging to people in it.

Teachers and friends can help with advice, but very few people have a detailed knowledge of possible careers outside their own. This is why many lads take up apprenticeships or particular occupations mainly because "Dad had a similar job" or because the local factory is sufficiently close for people to know what it is all about. Frequently they have very strange ideas.

Recently, I sat in at some interviews taking place with a careers mistress and a youth employment officer in a school in Hertfordshire. This was the first time that I had ever been there. One child was an interesting case. She was a very bright child, aged about 15. They wanted her to stay on much longer at school. The careers mistress asked, "When are you going to leave school?" The girl replied, "I am leaving at Easter".

The youth employment officer saw one of his likely customers escaping rapidly, and said, "You ought not to leave at Easter. What do you want to do?" The girl said, "I have got my own job fixed. I do not need your help, thank you very much" This amazed me, from a 15-year-old. The girl said, "I have arranged to go to work with my friend who is a beauty consultant". We eventually discovered, after further questioning, that her friend was a 16-year-old selling lipsticks in the Luton Co-operative Society.

What impressed me very much was that, without pausing, the youth employment officer was immediately able to explain to this girl that there was a career in beauty consultancy if she wanted it but that it involved a certain amount of further education and training. She talked to her about the possibilities of taking a course in hairdressing at Luton Technical College and then promised to make further inquiries, when the girl was 18, to enable her to take a proper training course at one of the major firms of beauty consultancy. I quote this example because it was one which showed the skilled advice very few parents are capable of giving to their children, however much they would like to do so.

This is a very important job and a very professional job. The problem is more than a social problem. The next debate will draw attention to very serious manpower shortages which exist in this country—manpower shortages which are becoming more acute as a result of demographic factors and of technological factors, and also, as a result of the change in the school-leaving age. These are all having an effect on shortage of manpower. It is therefore important, for economic reasons as well as for social reasons, that children should not only be in a job which they like but also in a job in which they can make a maximum contribution and use themselves to the full.

The problem in recent years has been the increase in the number of young people seeking employment, and a great deal of credit is due to the service for the way in which it has faced up to this problem. Last summer the number of school leavers was a record. The service was faced with 446,155, school leavers. Those figures are important when we are examining the situation and the scope of the work. By December all but 1,426, all but 0.3 per cent., had been found employment. This is an indication that the service is doing a very good job. It would be a pity if the picture were painted in too sombre colours.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend mentioned, there is the problem of unemployment among young people in some areas. There are a number of matters which we on this side of the House have to get straight, and this is one of them. In January there were 23,000 young people unemployed, compared with 32,000 at the same time last year. Before the right hon. Gentleman intervenes I hasten to add that I am not claiming any credit for the change in the position. Despite this—we have to face up to it—there are four areas where the employment problem of young people is still serious—in the North-East, Scotland, Wales and Merseyside. The Government's plan to introduce new industries and to stengthen regional economic planning will play a major rôle.

I have mentioned the very large increase in the number of school-leavers. There is no doubt that this has placed an enormous strain on the Youth Employment Service and the people in it. But there will be a decline in the numbers to use the service by the end of this decade. This is why I think this is the perfect time to examine the service and to look at some of the methods of organisation and the way in which the service functions.

Since 1948 the demands of education and of industry have both changed. Therefore, it follows that the service must be prepared to change with the changing demands in the two fields with which it is concerned. Because of this, the caseload is, of course, an extremely important factor. It means that a great deal more work has to be done and there is need for more discussion in depth with the children than may have been thought necessary in the first instance.

I would like to stress that there is no optimum case-load. This varies very much, according to such factors as the area, whether rural or industrial.

Mr. Godber

The hon. Gentleman was talking about the numbers with which we are dealing. Can he say whether the change in the leaving arrangements complicates their case, whether it places a greater strain during the spring and summer months when more are leaving? Is this a special factor which has to be watched?

Mr. Marsh

It is obviously a changing factor which needs looking at and a factor that has to be taken into account. The main thing is the question of the overall numbers. I was saying that I do not think that there is an optimum figure, but I am prepared to accept that the figures in the past have been too high in many areas.

Since 1956 the number of youth employment officers has risen from 900 to over 1,500 and, as a result of this, the case load has fallen. Two years ago, measured by the number of young people reaching 15, two-thirds of the youth employment officers had caseloads of over 600 children per officer. Today, over half the youth employment officers have case-loads approaching 500 or less. Although this has not solved the problem it has had a very desirable trend. It does not, of course, mean that the work of the youth employment officer gets any less. Why we want to have a contracting case-load is not so that the youth employment officer can do less work but because he now has heavier demands on his time than before. It means that he can do a more advanced job. At one stage a youth employment officer used to be regarded as a sort of information officer who blew in and, having given the advice, blew out again. This is very much in the past.

In recent years there has been a very big development in the work of the Youth Employment Service in schools, and to be effective vocational guidance must be a continuing process maintained for at least the last year at school, and there must be guidance from the school as well as outside. More schools are appointing careers masters and there is a growing realisation that "careers" should be studied at school. The sort of occupation in which the child is going to spend the whole of his life is at least as important as the sex life of early English kings.

A growing number of schools are running careers courses. This is particularly important for the less academic pupil. It is not just in the grammar school that vocational guidance is necessary; it is more important for the less academic child because he has less experience and knowledge of the range of possible opportunities open to him and because he will leave school at an earlier age and start work at an earlier age.

All these things will, of course, involve additional work for the youth employment officers. The greater activity in the school means that more help and advice is needed from the youth employment officer who should, after all, be a trained and skilled person in his field. This means also—a matter to which some hon. Members have drawn attention—the need to provide training for these officers. A large number of them have received little or no formal training for what is an extremely important job. This does not mean that they do not do a good job. Many of them had to learn the hard way, and I think that it is necessary that we should, as far as possible, ensure that people in this field are properly trained. As far as the Ministry is concerned, all these people do, in fact, now receive training on entry into the group. There is an enormous backlog of youth employment officers who have never had any professional training in the past.

This has been an important debate and I have tried to deal with a number of the queries raised. I would like to end in the manner in which I started. I think the importance of this debate is recognised by the fact that we can get as many hon. Members as are present this morning to discuss this matter in detail, hon. Members who have obviously done a great deal of work on and have a great deal of knowledge of the subject. It is not a subject which gets the shouting and bawling backwards and forwards across the Chamber such as other subjects get. I think that it would be a great mistake because of that to fail to recognise that though this has been a quiet debate it has been a very constructive debate, in which both sides have worked very closely together. It has been Parliament at its best, and it has been the sort of debate which will have done a great service for young people.

I thank the hon. Member for Perry Barr for giving us the opportunity of taking part in it.

2.7 p.m.

Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)

One of the disadvantages of taking part in a debate at this stage is that the ground has been well and truly covered by earlier speakers and that what is left has been ploughed over by spokesmen on the two Front Benches.

I am sure that the House welcomes the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary. He has underlined adequately the points brought out in the debate, which has shown that this is a very important subject and one which is being approached seriously, and perhaps, adequately, by the Government of the day and also by the Opposition of the day.

The House knows that I have a particular interest in the employment difficulties of people over 50 years of age, and perhaps some hon. Members may wonder why I am also speaking on the question of the employment of young people. I think it important to remember that one stems from the other. As the Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out, a career badly started often has bitter consequences in the years to come. It is something that we must continually bear in mind. The decision taken by young people when they leave school is a basic one and has lifelong consequences. It is one that must be taken with the right amount of care and preparation. Only now are we beginning to realise how important this is and how in years gone by many youngsters drifted aimlessly into occupations for which they were ill-suited.

One of the points which has emerged from the debate is that the Youth Employment Service obviously does good work and has improved out of all recognition in recent years. It has also been emphasised that it still has a long way to go. If the debate has done nothing else, it will have shown the way for improvements which could be made by the Ministry of Labour and other Ministries in co-operation with it.

I support those who have said that the title of the service should be changed. I disagree with the Parliamentary Secretary, for I believe that this is almost all-important. Its title gives an activity its tone and can provide extra incentives. The present title conjures up a vision of rather soulless employment exchanges, with dark brown and green paint on waiting room walls and rather sour, tightlipped officials who have missed their own vocations. We know that that is not true and that much enthusiasm and energy are displayed by youth employment officers.

I feel the title should be changed, although I would not necessarily subscribe to the idea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Goldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd). I think that youth employment officers should be called "career consultants". This would give them added prestige and would make it clear that they knew what they were about. There is still a great danger, as has been said, that many young people going to youth employment officers regard them as those who are providing the jobs rather than guiding and putting young people into the right channel.

There is undoubtedly a need for greater status for youth employment officers and perhaps for a considerably better career and salary structure. Everybody working in public service believes that he deserves more money and that his is the most important job, and I suppose that a good case can be argued on many occasions, but if youth employment officers are to have formal employment training, and we are to get better people—those more suited to the pursuits of the occupation—we shall have to pay more money and make sure that we are able to select the people we want. After all, this is a leading sociological job and is every bit as important as those teachers who prepare pupils for university entrance or for A-level examinations, because in the long term it is they who shape the pattern of Britain's professional, industrial and artisan workers and they who sort out the square pegs.

There is much to be learned from the lessons of the past. No country can afford to waste its human resources. I would have thought that at least one quarter of the working population were in the wrong jobs. People may well perform their work adequately and may think that they are doing a good job, but with the right training and the right guidance they might have done something else far more effectively and much better than their present occupations.

I sometimes wonder how many people could have been first-class doctors, surgeons, engineers or scientists if they had been given the right prompting and the right incentive at an early age and, perhaps more important than the star professions, how many of those in dull and unskilled jobs could have used their creative talents to so much better advantage to themselves and the community at large. We may not have lost very many great men through the wrong sort of guidance, because great men will usually push through and get to the top whatever the adversities, but we must have lost thousands of very good men through the wrong sort of guidance and because they had the wrong start in life when they left school.

It is not just a matter of educational opportunities; that obviously comes into it. We must always give our young people the best educational chances that we can provide, but it is no use providing the education without the final guidance, once the child is going out in the world.

As a nation we need a fundamental change of approach to the subject of earning a living. This is chiefly because of the advance of automation, of which we have heard a good deal today and which we have debated piecemeal on a number of occasions over the last few years. Incidentally, I would like to see a full-scale debate on automation and all its consequences, approached with the seriousness and thoughtfulness which this debate has produced today.

I am sure that as we go on and find that people need a higher level of specialisation because of automation and that the professions need higher degrees and more qualifications, the whole problem of employment at the age of 16 or 17 will be accentuated. We must realise that parents are not always equipped to guide their children properly. Many parents have done wonders in setting their children right and dissuading them from the wrong sort of occupation, but more and more we must regard this as a skilled business and one which must be shouldered by the State.

I have said several times in the House that we need to become more flexible in our working habits. We are rapidly approaching a time when we shall require occupational skills of at least two different types for every individual. This is because when there is a change as people get older, they can switch to something entirely different at 40 or 50. If we could develop these two skills at an early age, I am sure that the process would bear fruit in due course and that there would not be so many redundancies and problems, as industries and the professions change. I suppose that there will always be dead-end jobs even with the completion of automation, but if these can be reduced to the minimum, the problem will be far easier to tackle.

By virtue of their occupation, Members of Parliament come into contact with many people who have obviously gone in for the wrong kind of employment. That is brought home especially when one conducts "surgeries" in one's constituency and sees the tragic waste and loss of ability because so many people have not gone into the right employment as they did not have the correct guidance. These people have sometimes been hopelessly misplaced through no fault of their own.

The Youth Employment Service is doing much to remove this wastage and I know that above all it realises the dangers of highly paid work at an early age and tries to head off young people from going into these dead end jobs, but that is extremely difficult when a young person sees his contemporaries earning high money at an early age while he is starting out on a long and tortuous apprenticeship, extending over years, while he is on a minimum salary or wage. As a consequence, it is more important than ever before that we should pay attention to those jobs which pay high initial rewards but which do not lead anywhere. The Youth Employment Service provides a watershed in the life of a young person and he should take full advantage of it.

But it should also dovetail into the education service. There needs to be far more co-operation between the Minister of Labour and the Department of Education and Science. For instance, I should like the Secretary of State for Education and Science to take a lead in encouraging all senior schools to appoint careers masters and careers mistresses. I know that many of them have already appointed careers masters, but all too often this is just another job shouldered on to a willing and able member of the staff who has to combine it with far too many other duties.

The careers master should be the most important person after the headmaster. He should have specialised training and be in constant liaison with the youth employment officer. Every school should be compelled to have such a master and a careers course where it is a senior school. What is the use of spending more and more of our resources, year by year, on education, if career guidance is not given at a comparatively early age?

One knows from one's own experience of the vast amount of time wasted on useless subjects which could have been dropped at an early age so that the child could specialise in ones which would be useful to him in years to come. Boys, particularly, should start thinking about what they are to do with their working lives as young as 12 or 13. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield about that. There is then still adequate room for manœuvre and plenty of time for them to change their minds. We all know many boys who, on reaching the age of 16, 17 or 18, in grammar schools and public schools, have no inkling of what they want to do, even though they have displayed a fair amount of talent in learning. If only we can canalise the idea that people should begin from an early age, when they start at a senior school, to dovetail their ideas together and make sure that they know where they are going, we can produce a far more effective work force for the professions and for industry.

We all preach modernisation. We talk about expansion, growth and improvement in our social and living standards, but if we are to achieve these objects we must advance from an adequately prepared basis. The Youth Employment Service, allied to advancing education, is perhaps the most important one of all, and, therefore, this debate will have fulfilled a useful function.

2.21 p.m.

Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)

Throughout this debate I have been conscious of the relationship which I had with the Youth Employment Service, first, because my entry into industry was in some degree the result of the Youth Employment Service. I recall that when I left school to enter industry, just before the war, I was interviewed by a youth employment officer. As a result of my educational qualifications, the aptitude which I had shown, and particularly my desires, we eventually came to an agreement on the kind of career which I should subsequently pursue. Having reached this point of agreement, I said, "Very well, when do I start?" whereupon the youth employment officer said, "I am sorry, but we have not got any vacancies in that line." This, unfortunately, is still too true of the service today.

Throughout the debate we have heard the word "careers" mentioned repeatedly. I want to make a plea for those people who are not cut out for what is generally considered a career—the kind of people whose future does not lie along an academic or technological path, the ordinary people who love to do the ordinary manual day-to-day tasks which are an essential part of our life and which will have to be done by someone in the future as in the past.

The kind of people on whom we seem to have focussed our attention particularly are people who, by virtue of academic achievements, have reached the point where the youth employment officer or the careers adviser is helping to determine their future path and who will, in the ordinary way, be carried forward by their own momentum. These are the people who are in demand, who are being sought by employers in the professions and are readily absorbed. It may, therefore, be a failure on our part to recognise the need to give close attention to those people who, because they have not achieved any distinction in their educational life, may be left to find their own dead-end job, and along with these we have people with special disadvantages in terms of mental or physical handicaps.

I served on a youth employment committee fairly recently and I know that much of the time of every youth employment officer is spent in trying to find suitable useful occupations in which people with these handicaps can none the less make their individual contributions to society and feel that they are doing a worth-while task and giving expression to their lives. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give very careful consideration to this aspect of the service.

I have in mind, also, another kind of person, the kind of person who, when I saw him in my factory which I left recently, used to bring to mind a story of an exceptionally able man who, having started work in industry, secured rapid promotion within a month to the position of a chargehand, and then quickly afterwards to a foreman. He showed such outstanding ability that he progressed in the next few months through the intermediate stages to departmental manager, manager and managing director, until eventually one day he was sent for by the president of the company. The president said, "Young man, the board is very impressed by your performance and, in consequence, we have appointed you as vice-president of the corporation" whereupon the young man said, "Thank you very much, Dad."

This is not an exaggeration of the kind of thing which frustrates so many people in industry, who are making an effort to play a useful rôle and equip themselves with the techniques that are needed in our society. This is the kind of thing that we have to eradicate, and which the Youth Employment Service can play a vital part in helping to determine.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that that the question of training craftsmen is a job for industry, but we cannot leave it entirely to industry. Our future is too important. Too much is at stake for us to leave this matter in the hands of individual employers, in the light of our knowledge of what happens to young people entering industry. In various parts of the country we have had the problem of finding useful occupations for school leavers. This has been referred to several times, and it has occurred in the area which I represent. Very often young people with all the talent and abilities that they can bring to our industry and to the developments that we need so much, have been denied the opportunity because employers do not now see them in the same light in which they saw them, not 20 years ago but as recently as 10 and five years ago, when they could absorb young people, not to train them as craftsmen but to utilise them under the guise of apprenticeship as cheap labour. Today, they cannot see the same profitable outcome because of the endeavours of the trade union movement and, therefore, they are reluctant to take these young people into industry.

I recall approaching my last employer when this problem arose, and seeking to persuade him to take on more apprentices. His attitude was "We cannot afford to carry them". In a company employing 800 people, he said that 40 was the maximum that the company could carry; the company had to make a profit. Apprentices helped to make profits. This employer used to take on boys at 14, when the school-leaving age was 14. For the first couple of years they would be errand boys and "brew boys" and at 16 their training proper would start. But by the age of 18 or 19 they would be called away to do National Service or something of the kind at a time when the wage was increasing substantially and the employer was having to pay out decent wages.

This is not the pattern today. Apprentice wages have risen, and consequently, employers are more reluctant to take on apprentices. I therefore urge my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to consider again the view that industry alone is responsible for the training of our future craftsmen. Some of the responsibility must be absorbed by our education service.

The Youth Employment Service can play a useful rôle in safeguarding young people who enter industry against the sharp psychological impact of the transition from an educational environment to an industrial environment. This is all too often overlooked; indeed, scant reference is made to it today. I recall the effect which I saw industry having on young people in my own factory when they came in unaware of the kind of life that they were entering.

Very often, particularly sensitive individuals were psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives as a result of the effect of this transition. A young person who, by virtue of his education and aptitudes, is clearly destined for an industrial career, should be gradually prepared. After his eventual entry into industry he should be given the cushioning that can be achieved by an overlapping through carrying forward his school education into his industrial life.

Many of us, in harking back to former days, have deplored the half-time education from which many people suffered in earlier years, but in the light of social development and a different approach a useful argument could be advanced today for having a fresh look at this question so that the change from the educational to the industrial life could be made smoother. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will consider the points which I have emphasised. I thank the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) for the opportunity to raise these points and bring them to the attention of the House.

2.34 p.m.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brent-ford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith), I always find it embarrassing to have to make a speech after a long debate during which one has heard other hon. Members ticking off as they went along the best points which one had intended to make. Nevertheless, I feel honoured that the Minister of Labour, who is the key man in the debate, has no doubt left a vitally important appointment to come here with a fresh mind to listen to my suggestions. I am grateful, and to have a fresh audience removes a great embarrassment from my own position.

The great success of the debate has been in giving us the opportunity to discuss what the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. H. Walker) has mentioned—the bridging of the gap between school life and working life. We have a number of debates on education, on economic affairs and on industry, but we hardly ever discuss the movement between school and work. This is, therefore, a great opportunity for us.

I have tried to summarise in one sentence the objective of the Youth Employment Service. I believe that it is to see that properly prepared young people are placed in satisfying jobs where their talents are used to the best advantage of themselves and of the country. Thus it can be seen that the service must cover the whole or at least a large part of a young person's life—his home background, his schooling, his further education and then the bridging of the gap between schooling and employment. I should like to deal with the different facets of the task which face the service according to that formula.

First, in relation to home background, it is most important that a child's parents should be involved in the choosing of a career and the line of the working life of a son or daughter throughout the time when decisions must be made. In the rest of my speech I shall hope to show how on each occasion the parents can be brought into the picture and involved in the decisions.

The next period is that when the child is at school. In Harrow the figures show that each trained youth employment officer has about 500 school leavers to look after each year. It seem to me, therefore, that unless we expand the Youth Employment Service enormously much more responsibility for explaining careers and for careers counselling must be placed on the careers masters and mistresses in the schools. This is where I disagree with my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) and for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill), who, I feel, wanted to see members of the Youth Employment Service on their own specifically appointed to the schools to do their job in one or more individual schools. I do not believe that this is right.

I want to see career teaching given great prominence and given a status in the school much greater than it now enjoys. I would go as far as to say that the master and mistress responsible for careers, even though it be only part of their job, are performing the most important teaching job in the school. I put it above teaching English, mathematics, history and languages. I put it, with due reference to you, Mr. Speaker, well above classics which, I think, should be abolished in the curriculum. I will not say "curricula", because as far as I know classics are maintained only to give jobs for classicists to teach classics for the rest of their lives.

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

That, with respect, is an extraordinary assertion to make in the House.

Mr. Page

I do not want to be controversial, but I am glad that my hon. Friend was listening.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) that training, discussion and counselling on careers should start from the age of about 12 or 13 and be continuous during the young person's education and progress through school. Special arrangements should be made for careers teachers to have sufficient time to interview parents with the children, and sufficient time to consult the youth employment officers who, in my opinion, should be the specialist consultants of the careers masters and mistresses in the schools.

I am glad to say that in Harrow this year we are starting a Careers Teachers' Association. Careers teachers from all the schools, both boys' and girls' schools, are to meet together periodically with the youth employment officers and representatives of industry to discuss the requirements of industry and the professions for various aptitudes in young people coming from the schools and also to be told what vacancies and opportunities there are.

By raising the status of careers teachers in schools, we may also secure a great improvement in the practical curriculum in schools. I was delighted to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary had to say about this. In my view, mathematics teaching in schools could be much more aimed towards the use of mathematics in business, commerce and the professions afterwards. The same applies to languages. The vocabulary of languages taught in school should be aimed at helping young people to enter commerce so that the kind of books which they have read in French, German or Spanish would help them in the correspondence and conversations which they will have if they use their languages in their work.

Mr. William Yates

How many modern languages have Latin as a base?

Mr. Page

I think that my hon. Friend has a particular aptitude for languages. He probably has an aptitude for Latin, and it has, therefore, been easy for him to pick up languages using the Latin root. For people such as myself, our hard struggle with Latin probably spoils any initiative we might have in learning any other language. But I do not want to go too deeply into that subject, or I shall be out of order. If the Minister can see his way to support greater influence by careers teachers in the schools, I hope that he will speak to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Education with a view to persuading him to take the same kind of line.

I come now to the bridge between school and work. A great improvement in careers teaching in school should allow the members of the Youth Employment Service more time for their necessary liaison and contacts with local industry. It would help them also to have time to study the future trends of requirements in industry, commerce and the professions. Also—I think, that this is new in the debate—I suggest that exchanges should take place between youth employment officers and personnel officers in factories and businesses, on a two or three months' basis, with secondment of one to the other so that each could see what the problems of the other were.

Something else which the youth employment officers can do to bridge the gap is to hold careers conferences between teachers and local industrialists. I am proud to say that this also was pioneered by the teachers, youth employment officers and industrialists of Harrow. At least once a year now, for about 10 years, a conference takes place, and there are growing and continuing friendships between school teachers, headmasters and careers masters, personnel officers and production managers in local factories. This has been extremely valuable and makes the work more productive and easy.

Another useful job which local employment officers do in many parts of the country, notably in urban areas, is to organise careers conventions. These are held usually about once a year, providing an exhibition at some central place where young people and their parents may go and see demonstrations and layouts of the kind of opportunities open to them nowadays. They can obtain direct information from individuals on the various stands and can make inquiries at a time when people are willing and anxious to answer them.

However, even in a place like Harrow, where parents are particularly interested in careers for their children and there is a wide opportunity of nearness to London, out of 2,000 school leavers last year only 500 to 600 attended the careers convention, and some of the children who went may well have been children who were not actually leaving that year. A 20 to 25 per cent. attendance at careers conventions is not nearly enough. We come back again to the careers teachers in the schools. If they can make the children enthusiastic about the choice of career, these conventions will be better attended.

There is a very interesting scheme at present working in Denmark and, I understand, in Sweden, too. I hope that this will be of interest to the hon. Member for Doncaster. In Denmark, at the end of the last term of the last year in school, 14 days are set aside for boys or girls to spend working in a factory or business of their choice. Employers in the neighbourhood of Copenhagen, when this was started three or four years ago, were rather anxious about an invasion of school children into their works or offices and they wondered whether the scheme would be a success, thinking that the children might be a great nuisance to them. Now, only three or four years after the start of the scheme, there are more employers, and also farmers from outside the town, who wish to take school children on this working tour of inspection than there are school-leavers to fill the vacancies.

The reason for the success of the scheme is that employers have found that the children have gained a better appreciation beforehand of what the various types of work involve. Some children who are obviously unsuited do not attempt to go into this or that business or industry, while others may find that they have a particular aptitude. In fact, it has been found a very fruitful and worth-while method of recruiting by the employers themselves.

It also helps children to discover, so to speak, by chance aptitudes which they did not know they had. One young girl went to a Copenhagen store because she wanted to study modern book-keeping and the clerical side. She saw window dressing being carried out and discovered that she had an aptitude for it. She has now gone back to the firm and is taking further education in this subject and will be the star window dresser of the organisation.

As far as I know—I have not made a deep study of this—only one such effort is being made in this country, and that is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer) where a number of boys from a well-known local boarding school, the local grammar school and the local secondary modern school will spend the last 10 days of the summer term, after taking their O-levels, working in various factories in Slough. I believe this to be a worth-while project. It has been privately arranged. I believe that it will be successful. The right hon. Gentleman may say that there are complications about insurance, pay, and so on, but perhaps those difficulties could be overcome if pilot schemes could be run throughout the country and some of them were seen to be successful.

I want to mention two points in respect of which I hope the Ministry of Labour might act with speed. I wonder whether the addresses and availability of Youth Employment Bureaux are sufficiently known in the neighbourhoods where they are established. It is very difficult to pin on to the youth employment officers themselves the responsibility for propaganda about the work they do. Better career teaching in schools will help. But I wonder whether some means can be found to make the availability of Youth Employment Bureaux better known. I believe that a large number of young people, particularly girls, tend to go to the ordinary employment agency for their jobs. They could just as easily go round the corner to the Youth Employment Bureau.

Without wishing to put extra burdens on the Youth Employment Service, I wonder whether it would not be possible for some bureaux to be open on a Saturday morning instead of closing, as I believe the majority do, on Friday after-noon. The father and mother might more easily be able to go with the child to a bureau on a Saturday morning.

To take this one stage further, wonder whether the Minister would consider that employment agencies should be forbidden to place young people under 18 in positions without first getting into contact with the local youth employment officer There are some very good employment agencies, but there are also some which take an interest only in the fee that they will get for placing a child and do not take an interest in whether the child is properly placed.

I wonder whether the Minister is considering setting up a career research unit in his Ministry. It occurs to me that such a unit might be alongside or part of the new manpower research unit which has been in operation for a short period. The manpower research unit is, I imagine, specifically looking at global figures of requirements in certain parts of the country for certain trades. I feel that it may not have in its terms of reference research into the kind of skills which may be required all over the country in five, 10 or even 20 years' time.

We on this side of the House have a deal deal of respect for the Minister of Labour in his broadmindedness and his ecumenical approach to so many problems, and I hope that before these calm waters become ruffled by any debates we may have about the Trades Disputes Bill he will consider the possibility of putting into practice some of the suggestions which have been made from all sides of the House today.

2.56 p.m.

Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) on his good fortune in the Ballot and his wisdom in selecting such an important subject as this for debate. It is delightful to have the Minister of Labour present; it indicates what an interest he takes in this important subject. Also, the debate gives hon. Members an opportunity of paying special tribute to the work of the Ministry and, in particular, the youth employment officers.

My constituency has particular youth employment problems, because we have not a large number of industries to provide opportunities for our youth, particularly now that the Government have decided to clamp down on even small extensions of factors, restricting them to not much more than the addition of a lavatory. This does not give any opportunity at all for youth in my area to get better employment facilities. It is hard to work up enthusiasm on the part of youth going into employment unless there are obvious prospects in it.

It would be outside the scope of the debate to enlarge on that, but I would ask the Minister of Labour to give real consideration to this problem when dealing with these matters in the Cabinet. I can assure him that the youth employment officers at Folkestone are full of enthusiasm and very anxious about the matter. I pay tribute to the way they have handled our employment problems. There was a difficult situation recently. One firm had difficulty in getting young girls to work in their factory. I took the matter up with the youth employment officer, and the way in which she handled the situation was brilliant. She called in the Ministry of Labour Industrial Advisory Service. As a result, after a short period spent in the factory, they were able to iron out what had looked to be an almost impossible situation. They did it by better communications—which, when all is said and done—is what matters most in industry whether in training or anything else.

Special reference has been made to careers masters. We cannot over emphasise the importance of this factor. But unless a careers master understands industry I do not see how he can properly advise his pupils. It is right and proper that a careers master should, and does, have a good insight into the psychology and thinking of the pupils, but I find it difficult to believe that, unless he himself has had experience of industry, he can translate to the boys and girls the ideas and opportunities unless he sees them in industry himself.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) referred to the work in Denmark and Sweden, with which I am also familiar. In these countries, opportunity is given to school children to see factories in operation so that they may judge for themselves whether the jobs are what they would like to do. In this country, a number of engineering firms are doing just that, but I would like the right hon. Gentleman, if he agrees with this proposal—I hope that he does—to consider whether or not these factories are breaking the law in having on the premises young children under employment age, even though for only a short time. I know that a number of employers would like to extend the facilities but are doubtful of their position. They believe that, in their enthusiasm, they may be breaking the law.

The raising of the school-leaving age will give special opportunities. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will closely consult the Secretary of State for Education and Science to see that the new curricula, which should now be appearing for a higher school-leaving age, include plenty of opportunities along these lines. I believe that too much attention is given in secondary modern schools to individual subjects. Some constituents of mine who have children at school have asked me, "Why is my child having to take part in carpentry and joinery? He hates it and they will get nowhere by attempting to compel him."

Surely there are other opportunities that could be provided instead. I would like, for instance, to see a secondary modern school, or a grammar school for that matter, producing an old car which the pupils could take to pieces and put together again. Rather than carpentry and joinery being a compulsory subject, pupils with aptitudes lying elsewhere should be given opportunities to show their talents.

A number of firms are producing films and there is a great deal to be said for this. My own firm, connected with building, has gone to some trouble to make films which can be shown to schools, showing, properly and fairly, the type of work available in the building and civil engineering industry.

For some years there has been a difference between the public view of engineering in this country, the view on the Continent and the view in America. One has only to look at a glossy American magazine to see the hairy-chested engineer looking through a theodolite over the Rocky Mountains. That is a considerable improvement over our own view and might well excite quite a few young men into wanting to be engineers. There is nothing exciting about the engineer in an old-fashioned bowler hat and corduroy trousers.

Much can be done, some of it on television. A series of programmes on careers, carefully analysed and worked out, would give a proper evaluation of the work boys and girls could undertake. On the reverse side of the coin, I think that most boys and girls look at "Z Cars". How anyone can want to become a policeman after looking at that programme, I cannot imagine. A much more sensible programme, as was said in another place yesterday, is "Dixon of Dock Green", which gives a better impression of the policeman's lot.

This is a serious matter. The careers of our children and the future of the nation depend on good thinking. I do not think that anything has been said today about youth employment officers and industry getting a better knowledge of crime in youth. We are all greatly concerned about the amount of crime, particularly among teen-agers. I often wonder whether some of the energy put into criminal activities is not often diverted there because the youngsters concerned are in the wrong jobs.

There is at present a great opportunity to provide youth with experience of the job which they may wish to do. When all is said and done, today young people take on a new job and also get married, and both are hazardous occupations. I do not suggest that they should have a trial marriage, but I think that they should be enabled to have a trial at doing the type of industrial job which they propose to undertake. All this calls for a careful review. The analysis of crime statistics among the young should be tied up with the work of the youth employment officers and this would do much to solve the problem. Equally, I think that there should be more interchanges between Borstal and probation officers and youth employment officers and that that sort of thing would help a great deal. This must be a combined operation with industry and the Government.

It was suggested by an hon. Member opposite that certain employers were loath to take apprentices because they could not make a profit from them. This is a different argument from one which I have heard advanced, that trade unions did not want the number of apprentices increased because of the profit which employers made out of them. I hope that in respect of such a serious matter as this is we shall not embark on party politics of that sort.

Over the last few years there has been a great advance in the reduction of the term of service of apprentices. In parts of the country the apprenticeship in the building industry has been reduced from five years to four, with the co-operation of the trade unions. The reason is that, because of the mechanisation, there is not such a great demand for so many skills. It is better that a youth should be trained in some specialist work for which his training would not take so long. When I served my apprenticeship for the first year the apprentice was a tea-boy. He was the "can-boy" who was sent for skyhooks and putlock holes and other things which did not exist. He was the "mickey" of the craftsmen. That kind of thing has passed. Today, youth is given an opportunity which should be supplemented by this House and the Government.

I hope that the Minister—I am sure that he intends to do so—will outline the proposals of the Government. I have reminded the House of the difficulties which exist in the south-east of England where the industry is hampered by the cry for "Control", "Control", "Control", so as to make certain that no one can display any initiative. We do not ask for the earth, but merely for a sporting chance. We ask for an opportunity in my constituency to be able to provide 5,000 or 10,000 square feet of factory space per annum. If we are rigidly controlled, because that is thought to be right in one respect, it will be found that many other difficulties arise. So far as I know, industry is most anxious to co-operate and despite what has been said by hon. Members opposite, I think that the trade unions, also, are anxious to co-operate to secure skilled workers.

The problem is affected by the advance of automation. We are reaching the stage where many machines are better trained than their operators. Computers, for example, do not suffer from human frailties such as affect individuals. In respect of education and employment prospects for youth we must make certain that they are provided with opportunities during their training which will make it possible for them to change their jobs. Then they could easily keep pace with the age of automation.

In considering the question of youth employment officers and their work, we should consider the opportunities for recreation within jobs. I should like those firms which have their own sports grounds and facilities to interest the youth of the country not only in their business side, but in recreation. I suggest to the Minister of Labour that firms which are enterprising in this respect should be given preference in placing school-leavers. I hope that the Minister will make the position in this matter clearer to us than it is at the moment.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, taking fully into account current trends in education and industry, and mindful of the need for helping young people to choose, obtain and settle down in employment and training suitable to their individual capacities and inclinations; recognising the unique contribution which the Youth Employment Service can made to this end in the interests of the young people concerned, their employers and the nation's economy, calls on Her Majesty's Government to promote the further development of this service.