§ 4.55 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ray Gunter)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Report of a Working Party of the National Youth Employment Council on the Future Development of the Youth Employment Service.To prevent any possible misunderstanding arising out of the title of this Motion on the Order Paper, I would repeat that what we are debating today is the Report of the Working Party over which Lady Albemarle presided on the Youth Employment Service, not the Report of the Committee, over which Lady Albemarle likewise presided, on the Youth Service in England and Wales, which was presented to Parliament in 1960.
It is indeed a tribute to Lady Albemarle's untiring efforts on behalf of young people that her name should be associated with two such Reports, each so important in its own field. I should like to take this opportunity once again to thank her and her colleagues on the Working Party for their thorough and authoritative survey of the problems facing the Youth Employment Service and for their positive and forward-looking Report.
I would remind the House that in the statement I made to it on 14th December, the day of the Report's publication, I announced that the Government accepted the Report as providing valuable guidelines for the development of the Youth Employment Service over the next few years.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, my colleagues and I have thought it right that the House should devote a day to a full discussion of this Report as an efficient and effective Youth Employment Service is of vital importance not only to our young people but also to the nation as a whole. By helping boys and girls to choose careers suited to their capacities and inclinations by diverting them from dead-end jobs and encouraging them towards openings which provide opportunities for training and further education, and by helping to distribute our limited resources of young people in accordance with national needs, the Youth Employment Service can make 72 a unique contribution to the country's social and economic life.
I recall that as recently as last February the House accepted without Division a Motion by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies), recognising this special rôle of the Youth Employment Service and calling on Her Majesty's Government to promote the further development of the service.
Before I come to the Working Party's Report and the action we propose to take on its recommendations, I wish to say something about the employment situation, for this is the background against which the Youth Employment Service operates. However efficient the service may be, its usefulness will be seriously curtailed if there are not enough openings for young people to enter.
Fortunately the employment situation for young people is generally very good. During the whole of 1965 the number of employment opportunities exceeded the number of young people seeking them and last summer's school leavers were, as the House knows, generally speaking rapidly absorbed into employment. In most regions there is now a considerable unsatisfied demand for young workers. In the Midlands, for example, there are 15 jobs for every unemployed young person. It is also gratifying that there has been a distinct improvement in the employment situation on Merseyside, though of course in that area there is still a shortage of training opportunities for youngsters.
Some areas still give concern. I am thinking especially of parts of Wales, Scotland, the North of England and Cornwall. Here unemployment among young people is one aspect of the structural unemployment of these areas and the Government, by their plans for regional development, are vigorously tackling these deep-seated problems.
Statistics of employment are only a crude yardstick. It is not enough that a boy or girl has simply secured a job. What matters is that as many as possible should obtain progressive jobs which provide training for skill and prospects of advancement. In this connection it is heartening that the proportion of boys who obtained apprenticeships in 1965 was a record, representing 2 out of 5 73 of all boys entering employment. I hope that we are seeing here the first effects of the Industrial Training Act and that the training opportunities provided for young people at all levels will steadily increase.
Competition for the services of young people has been accentuated by the decline in recent years in the number of school leavers. The number of young people reaching the age of 15 this year is 737,000—less than four-fifths of the figure for 1962, the peak year of the bulge. The number will now remain fairly constant for the next four years. We have thus a breathing space in which to take stock of the work of the Youth Employment Service and to press ahead with measures for its development before numbers start to rise again in the early 1970s.
This is only part of the reason why the present review of the Youth Employment Service is so timely. Rapid changes are taking place both in education and industry. In education there is the trend towards later school-leaving, which will he given a further impulse by the rise in the statutory minimum school leaving age to 16 in 1970; there is the new thinking about the curriculum which has been stimulated by the Newsom and Brunton Reports, and there is a considerable expansion in further and higher education.
On the side of industry there is the accelerating pace of technological advance and the radical developments in industrial training to be expected from the widening effect of the Industrial Training Act. It is significant that the Working Party considered that these developments in education and industry did not lessen, but indeed reinforced the need for a comprehensive and effective Youth Employment Service.
In developing the service which we hope to do, we have sound foundations on which to build. It is reassuring that the Working Party found that despite the changes in education and industry the four main traditional objectives of the service are as relevant today as when they were first proposed by the Ince Committee in 1945. These are, first, to provide young people, their parents and their schools with accurate information about employment and careers; secondly, 74 to give vocational guidance to young people at school and subsequently; thirdly to help them to find suitable employment, and employers to find suitable workers; and, fourthly, to review the progress of young workers in employment and give any further help and advice needed.
Although therefore the objectives of the service may remain unchanged, the methods by which these objectives are attained have already been adjusted in many ways to meet changing needs and conditions and will require further considerable adaptation and development. This brings me to the Working Party's Report.
In considering the Report I propose to follow very much the same order as the Report itself. I shall deal first with the work of the youth employment officer, which is discussed in the early chapters of Part I of the Report, and then turn to the questions of staffing, training and premises, which are dealt with in Part II. I shall then say something about the work of the central executive; and finally I shall refer briefly to the legislation proposed in Part III of the Report.
In Chapter II the Working Party has considered in some detail the work of the Youth Employment Service with pupils at school and at further education colleges. The chapter contains much wise advice on the development of this work in schools. It is particularly timely that the Department of Education and Science has recently published a complementary booklet for teachers entitled "Careers Guidance in Schools". This booklet and the Working Party's Report are indispensable reading for all concerned with assisting pupils to choose their careers.
I would underline two points in particular. First, the Report recognises that the provision of careers information and guidance should not be deferred until the pupil's last months at school. This is much too late. An earlier and more continuous approach is needed if youngsters are to be able to reach sensible and informed decisions about their future without feeling under pressure at having to make up their minds in the last few months before they leave school.
Secondly, vocational guidance must be a team effort. In a matter as complicated 75 as this no one person or section of the community can have a monopoly of wisdom. As the Report states, the work of the careers master and the youth employment officer are complementary to one another. Young people and their parents—on whom, we should always remember, the responsibility for the decision rests—may well, in the words of the Report,wish to turn both to the teachers who have watched the child's development and also to the Youth Employment Officer who can speak with authority of the world of work in which the pupil's future lies".In this team approach both the Youth Employment Service and the school have a part to play, and both need to be efficient. The work of the school will be impaired if expert advice and assistance are not forthcoming from the service. Similarly, the service in its work with pupils will be greatly handicapped unless there is a systematic programme of careers preparation within the school on which it can build. I will be dealing in the rest of my speech with measures to develop the Youth Employment Service and my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for the Department of Education and Science, in winding up this debate, will speak on the steps being taken to further careers work in schools.
Before leaving the subject of preparatory work in the school I would mention particularly one activity which has recently attracted a good deal of publicity. I refer to "work experience schemes", which involve releasing boys and girls from school to take part in the work of a factory or other place of employment. I know that many teachers are most interested in the possibility of developing such schemes. I know, too, that many trade unionists—for reasons which I can understand—have serious misgivings about the wisdom of introducing school children to work in factories. The best hope of resolving these differences of view lies in the accumulation of further information about such schemes and its careful assessment.
I have therefore asked my National Youth Employment Council to make a thorough investigation of all the pros and cons of work experience schemes, from the standpoint of vocational guidance and the transition from school to work. I 76 recognise, of course, that work experience has a wider purpose than this, and I understand that the Department of Education and Science and the Schools Council are gathering information to enable them to evaluate work experience from the broad educational viewpoint also.
In another chapter the Report discusses the industrial aspects of the youth employment officer's work. The whole point of having a Youth Employment Service is that its officers should be expert in all matters pertaining to employment, training and further education.
The youth employment officer's effectiveness in this rôle will depend upon his contacts with industry, and his knowledge of industry, both nationally and locally. It will depend upon his personal contact with employers, particularly training and personnel officers, his knowledge of future manpower requirements and the ever-increasing facilities for further education and industrial training.
Thus, in the words of the Report:One of the main issues facing the Service is the need for its officers, while confronted with the growing demands of their work in co-operation with the schools, to give sufficient time to keeping their basic knowledge of industry up to date".In this story of co-operation I have left the most important partner until the last. As the Report stresses:The aim throughout must be to associate the parents as closely as possible with the work of the Youth Employment Service at all stages".With this in view, the Central Youth Employment Executive will shortly be seeking the views of local youth employment committees on the best methods of developing more effective contact with parents. The Executive has also commissioned a film aimed at helping parents to appreciate how the service may best be used in dealing with careers problems.
I turn now to the question of staffing and training in the Youth Employment Service. If the service is to be able to discharge satisfactorily the wider responsibilities outlined in Part I of the Report, then it is essential, first, that the staffing of youth employment offices should be adequate and, second, that youth employment officers should be fully trained for their duties. As I said in my statement on 14th December, staffing 77 and staff training are the two main priorities for the further development of the service.
First, staffing. The Report refers to the steps which have been taken, both by the local education authorities concerned and by my Department, to keep the staffing of the service under review and to create additional posts where these were needed. As a result, the total number of youth employment officers has gone up from slightly over 900 in 1956 to just over 1,560 at the end of last year, with a corresponding increase in the supporting clerical staff. More significantly, in the three years since the peak of the "bulge" in 1962 there has been an increase of about 175 youth employment officers.
This improvement in the staffing position, during a period when the number of school leavers was falling, has led to progressive reductions in the average caseload for youth employment officers. Those with inside knowledge of the work of the service have frequently maintained that a youth employment officer cannot be expected to do his job efficiently with a case-load much above 500, and that, in areas where special factors must be taken into account, a case-load below 500 would be fully justified, according to local circumstances.
I am glad to say that this position has now been reached. By the beginning of this year the average case-load was down to 500 for the first time in the history of the service. But I must emphasise, first, that it is a national average—these are always dangerous things—from which there are still considerable local deviations, both above and below; and, second, that the reduction in case-loads does not mean that the staff are doing less work, but that they are able to develop their work in greater depth and so provide a better service to all concerned: young people, parents, schools and employers alike.
Even so, the Working Party recommends, and the Government accept, that the staff of the service should continue to be built up. This is necessary in order to bring the work of the service generally up to tine standards already achieved in the more progressive areas and to permit further development of the work on the lines now advocated in the Working Party's Report.
78 It is, however, important to ensure that further staff increases should be made with discrimination and with due regard for the most effective and economical deployment of qualified personnel. Recent surveys by the Central Youth Employment Executive have shown that a youth employment officer's ability to carry out extensive work in schools is related not so much to his numerical case-load as to the strength and quality of his supporting staff in the office.
They enable him to get away from his desk and devote more time to his duties in the schools and with industry. Inspections of the service today increasingly tend to bring out the need for strengthening the clerical and supporting staff, rather than expanding the number of youth employment officers.
There is also a growing need to develop more specialisation within the service. Already the majority of academically able young people can be advised by specialist officers and the Working Party recommend the extension of such posts. There are areas, we all know, where there are insufficient young people in this category to keep a specialist fully occupied. These areas present particular difficulties, and I fully endorse the Working Party's recommendation that smaller local authorities should consider making joint appointments to such posts.
Experience is also showing the advantages of officers specialising, after suitable training, in the particular problems and opportunities of handicapped youngsters. Here again the possibility of joint appointments should be considered by local authorities, where numbers do not justify a full-time appointment.
I agree too with the Working Party's recommendation that, in areas where my Department runs the service, there should be some senior posts with duties and responsibilities similar to those of a local authority's principal youth employment officer. I am now taking steps to introduce such posts at appropriate points in my Ministry's part of the service. A start will be made in the next few months with posts to cover Gloucestershire, Renfrewshire, Oxfordshire and the Ipswich area.
One of the most important parts of the Report deals with the training of the 79 staff. If the need for more staff is one of the two main priorities for developing the Youth Employment Service, the other—I think it is at this time the more pressing priority—is the need for better-trained staff. The Report disclosed how far we have still to go before we have a fully-trained service. It is my intention to see that measures are taken to step up training of all kinds and that this matter is pursued with a sense of urgency.
In this, the Central Executive will act in close co-operation with the Youth Employment Service Training Board. I should like here to pay tribute to the Training Board, which, in its comparatively short existence, has already done much to expand training facilities for full-time training of local authority officers, to review the contents of these courses and then to insist on appropriate standards of entry to training.
The Working Party recommended that I should seek powers to enable me to require all new entrants to the local authority's service to undergo the one-year course of full-time training as a condition of first appointment. This recommendation underlines the importance we all attach to providing a fully trained service. I do not propose to say more about that at this stage, since there are a number of things in the Report involving legislation, which I shall be discussing with the local authorities before reaching a decision. This is one of them.
As the Report recognises, however, it would not in any case be immediately practicable to make such a requirement. While there has been an encouraging increase in recent years in the number of those taking the one-year training course, the number of suitable candidates coming forward for these courses still falls significantly short of the needs of the Service.
§ Dr. Wyndham Davies (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Will the right hon. Gentleman be dealing with Appendix VI of the Report, which deals with an analysis of staff turnover, since a great number of people in the Service are not worried solely about training schemes but about the loss of trained people from the Service?
§ Mr. Gunter
I would not wish my speech to be too long extended by dealing with all these matters. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have taken note of the point he makes.
I am confident that, in the light of the Working Party's Report, the Training Board will consider, as a matter of urgency, whether more can be done to encourage increased numbers of recruits for training and will ensure that the necessary training facilities are available for them.
The Board is, I understand, already exploring with groups of local authorities in the Midlands and the Greater London area the possibility of their formulating joint arrangements for employing supernumerary staff to facilitate the secondment of existing staff for professional training. I very much hope that these discussions prove fruitful and that it will be possible for groups of authorities in other parts of the country to introduce similar arrangements. The question of establishing a third training centre, possibly in Scotland, in addition to existing centres at Lamorbey Park at Sidcup and the Manchester College of Commerce, also deserves very careful consideration.
In addition to promoting full-time training for new entrants, there is a pressing need to step up the facilities for intensive short-course training for existing staff. I am, therefore, proposing, as I said in my statement to the House before the Recess, to set up a training unit under the direction of the Central Youth Employment Executive. Steps are being taken to engage a principal psychologist to take charge of the unit and the Central Executive will shortly be moving to new quarters, which will allow the unit to be accommodated in the same building. This will ensure that the close connections which have hitherto existed between the Executive's training and inspection functions will be fully maintained, to the benefit of both. The establishment of the training unit will enable a considerable expansion in the Central Executive's provision of training, both for experienced officers and for new entrants who have not had the advantage of the one-year pre-entry course.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
Is the right hon. Gentleman able to give 81 the figure of the anticipated number of places for training in this new unit?
§ Mr. Gunter
Not at the moment, but I will find out and let the right hon. Gentleman know.
While the Central Executive is in a favourable position to undertake the lion's share of short-course training, it is also important that the contribution which can come from the resources of local education authorities should not be overlooked. I am glad, therefore, that the Training Board, in co-operation with the Executive, have approached the West Midlands Advisory Council for Further Education and the Leeds and West Riding local authorities and invited them to run pilot "refresher" courses for experienced staff.
Last, but by no means least, is the need for more systematic in-service training to be provided by individual local authorities for their own staff. Some progressive authorities have set an admirable example, but I should like to see each and every authority which runs the Service having its own carefully-planned programme of training, tailored to the needs of its staff, both professional and clerical. This, again, is a sphere in which there are opportunities for joint action; by large authorities inviting the staffs of smaller authorities to participate in their training programmes or by smaller authorities joining together for combined training.
All this adds up to a formidable programme of training. I am sure that it is the wish of all of us that this important matter is tackled vigorously through the combined efforts of the Training Board, the Executive and local authorities.
The Report also deals with the subject of premises. Young people normally make their first contacts with the Youth Employment Service in their schools, but sooner or later they and their parents are likely to visit a Youth Employment Office. It is important that this should be an attractive place, centrally situated in the area it serves and easy to find. I agree with the Working Party that in its standards of accommodation, appearance and furnishing a Youth Employment Office, which may be the first real contact with industry for youngsters, should be up to the general standards young people are now accustomed to find in the other 82 places they now attend, for example in the newer schools, youth clubs and technical colleges.
I am glad to say that much has been done, and is now being done, to modernise the premises occupied by the service, and as long-term projects mature some of the gloomier, old-fashioned offices are giving place to quite attractive buildings. But some black spots still remain, as I have seen for myself, and I hope that local education authorities and others concerned with these will now press forward with the necessary improvements.
Before concluding my remarks I must comment on the work of the Central Youth Employment Executive, particularly in the spheres of careers information and research, which are discussed in Chapters VI and VII of the Report.
The individual officer who is engaged in an exacting programme of counselling must be able to count on a regular supply of comprehensive and up-to-date information on careers and their related courses of education and training. Nowadays careers literature comes from a wide variety of sources, including industrial and professional institutions, commercial publishers and specialist organisations. Much of what is produced is of high quality. However, it is significant that despite the considerable expansion which has taken place in recent years in the supply of careers information from other sources, the Working Party concluded and was unanimous in thinking that there is a continuing need for the Central Executive's own publications, which can be relied on to be impartial in their presentation and which are kept regularly up to date.
I would mention particularly one new source of information which is of growing importance to the careers adviser. I refer to my Ministry's Manpower Research Unit, the reports of which are providing, for the first time, objective information on occupational trends. This is of special value in correcting misapprehensions or over-simplified views which may be commonly held.
One increasingly complex matter is the need of sixth-formers for information on the whole range of possible courses in further and higher education, and their implications for careers. There is scope here for development, both by the Central 83 Executive and private organisations. The Working Party has made certain recommendations and these will be followed up. Particularly useful should be the suggestion of what it calls a "consumers' panel" to feed back information to the Central Executive on its own publications and to help it to keep up to date in meeting information needs.
The Working Party found almost unanimous agreement in the evidence submitted to it on the need for more research in the youth employment sphere. There is a particular need at the present time for more systematic investigation and appraisal of the various procedures and techniques used in helping the young people to choose their careers. The main effort in the research field should, of course, continue to come from the universities and other research institutions, but I wish to see the Central Youth Employment Executive assume a more active and positive rôle in promoting and co-ordinating research, with the help of its psychologists in the training unit. I am sure, too, that individual youth employment officers will welcome the opportunity to participate in these field studies.
As I said in opening, there was mention of legislative recommendations in the Working Party's interesting proposals for the amendment of the Employment and Training Act, 1948, Part II of which provides the present legislative framework for the Youth Employment Service. I am sure that hon. Members will accept that it would be rather premature for me at this stage to express any views on these proposals. I have already said that before I reach final conclusions on these matters I propose to consult the interested local authority associations. This I shall shortly do. However, I shall be interested to hear the views—and I hope that views will be expressed—of hon. Members on this question, and hear what they think might be desirable in terms of legislation. I will give the most careful consideration to anything that emerges from this debate.
There is one final matter, in which hon. Members opposite have been greatly interested in the last months. They have suggested that the present Youth Employment Service should be expanded into a careers advisory service for adults as well as for young people. That view has 84 been held by some hon. Members opposite, and by some of my hon. Friends, but I believe that it raises wider issues than the proposal for raising the upper age limit of the Youth Employment Service, which I shall be discussing with the local authority associations.
I agree that there is a strong case for a vocational guidance service for adults, but I feel that this can at present best be dealt with by developing and improving the employment exchange service. As I told the House on 14th December, my Ministry is to start an experimental scheme for this purpose in 11 areas at the beginning of March. This is one of several measures we are taking to strengthen and improve the employment exchange service, and it is designed to help all adults who, for any reason, are in real doubt about their future employment.
Some of those who use this new service will, of course, come from the 18–25 age groups—those, for example, who, for some reason, have made a false start in their training or find that they would rather take up another craft. But the new service is not designed only—or, indeed, primarily—for them. We expect that there will be many other adults who, if the experience of other countries is anything to go by, will find this service extremely helpful. There are those who will face an enforced change in their way of life —perhaps because of redundancy. There are also those whose talents are not being fully used, and there is reason to believe that there are many of those in the country. Specially trained officers of my Department are being assigned to this work. Many have previously been youth employment officers or careers advisory officers, and this should facilitate close co-operation and understanding between them and the officers of the Youth Employment Service.
In conclusion, I would emphasise that I have today deliberately concentrated on the deficiencies of the Youth Employment Service and the action that now needs to be taken to remedy those deficiencies. But we should not overlook the great deal of good work the service is already doing, and the progress towards further development that has been made in recent years, particularly by the leading authorities. The first necessity now is to raise the standard 85 throughout the service to that of the more progressive areas.
The Report of Lady Albemarle's Working Party provides a springboard for action—action by the Central Youth Employment Executive along the lines I have indicated; action by local authorities and by the Ministry in developing the Service in their particular areas, and action by schools, which have an indispensable part to play in the process of career counselling. Through our joint efforts, we must seek so to equip and strengthen the Youth Employment Service that our young people are given the best possible help in making the crucial transition from the world of education to the world of work, to their own benefit and to the great benefit of the community.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
We on this side would join the Minister in thanking Lady Albemarle and her Working Party for this Report. The House has debated this subject before during the last 12 months, thanks to the initiative of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies), and I know that all hon. Members would wish me to say how glad we are to welcome some of the announcements the Minister has made today—particularly about the rise in training opportunities for school leavers, which is due to industry, and about the rise in training courses, due to the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry, which may now be available to youth employment officers.
I shall depart from the order of the Report. I shall seek, first, to deal with the scope of the Youth Employment Service, and then say something about its effectiveness. I want to comment on the state of the service, and the state of the career teaching process in the schools and in further education. I would then wish to say a few words about industry, turn to what is possibly the major theme of Lady Albemarle's Report—professionalism—before touching on parents and young people, with the need to follow up on vocational guidance, before finally coming to the structure of the service.
I wish to deal, first, with the aim of the service which we are now dis- 86 cussing. It is, as the Minister emphasised, entirely associated at the moment with young people—but is our aim wide enough? The answer to that question has implications for the Youth Employment Service itself and, therefore, for our discussion of this Report. Of course, we must see that there is a guidance service, and a good guidance service, for the young—but what about the others? I was glad to hear the Minister's generally approving comments on the need to widen the vocational guidance available to adults, and we on this side welcome his pilot schemes in his own employment exchanges.
The right hon. Gentleman will probably agree that just as we have seen a dramatic shrinking of the proportion of the labour force engaged in farming, so we may well now witness for the next decades an almost equally dramatic shrinking in the labour force engaged in manufacture and in offices, and the great growth in employment will no doubt come, as the country's technological skills develop, in the services—I do not mean the Armed Services, but the services—where ability and the chance to do independent work will be probably far greater than in the factory and the office.
If we are to have very many new skills, and so much need for more skills we on this side believe that great increases in adult training will be necessary. We know that both the previous Government and this Government have been increasing the number of Government training centres, we know of the work of the Manpower Research Unit, but it is still true that there is virtually no advice available to the unskilled adult or, indeed, to the skilled adult who, while his skill is not actually obsolete, wants to change his skill, for perfectly good personal reasons.
The only figures I have been able to come across were given in a lecture by Mr. Leicester to the B.A.C.I.E., in 1963. I do not know their authority, but the lecturer spoke of the growing need we have for 150,000 new skilled jobs a year, and the danger of the obsolescence of about 150,000 existing skilled jobs. We can generally agree that the scale of retraining needed will grow rapidly upon us. If we are to finish up in a few years with a vocational guidance service, public and private, for adults as well as 87 for young people, plainly this possibility must be borne in mind in considering the Youth Employment Service and this Report.
I should now like to turn to perhaps the hardest of all the subjects—the Youth Employment Service and its present effectiveness. Everyone acknowledges the zeal and hard work of the individual officers of the service. That is not in question. What I think we ought to address our minds to is whether the youth employment officers are enabled to be fully effective. There are very few measures of how effective they are. We know something about quantity. We know that they see 50 per cent. of grammar school leavers and help place 25 per cent. We know that they see about 90 per cent. of secondary school leavers and help place about 50 per cent.
It is quite clear that the Youth Employment Service is not at the moment effectively penetrating the grammar school section of the school-leaving population. I think it is a great shame that the officers did not manage to penetrate that class of the population better but, as always, when there is work to be done, some enterprising people manage to try to fill the gap.
Of course, there is the Careers Research and Advisory Centre to which the Minister made, I think, oblique reference as filling a demand from the grammar school sector for information both about further education and careers. One would hope that by the steps which the Minister is taking and, further, which we shall press him to take, the Youth Employment Service and private enterprise—though this private enterprise is, in any case, non-profit making—will compete with each other for the public benefit.
Then—this is still in pursuit of testing the effectiveness of the service—we know that the present age rule limits the access of the Youth Employment Service to people in further education, particularly those who have not perhaps succeeded as well as they would have wished at the technical college or at whatever college they attend, and those who are on general courses and may like guidance for a future career.
88 I think that Lady Albemarle's Committee makes it plain that it hopes that more measuring instruments for quality will be evolved. There is no criterion by which at the moment we can judge the quality, as opposed to the quantity, of the service. It is easy enough for me at this Box to suggest various ideas. I am glad to know that there are university departments active in the field, and we may expect proposals to come from them; but we really do not know the degree of job satisfaction or, indeed, the number of job changes which result from the advice given by Youth Employment Service officers. We do not even know very much about what sort of jobs the people take, and in what sort of firms.
There is the work of Joan Maizel, in the British Journal of Industrial Relations, in March of last year, which seems to show from a survey in Willesden that the bulk of those advised by the Youth Employment Service went to unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in the smaller firms. These are the very jobs which will tend to decrease as skills and the need for skills grow.
It is easy enough to talk about these measures of effectiveness, but how can we improve the effectiveness? Here, I should like to come on to the subject of the service itself. It seems to me that two things above all would increase the effectiveness of the service. The first is better backing with information, guidance, publication, pamphlets and films, and here one can only note how much the pamphlets, career conferences and productions of the Career Research and Advisory Centre seem to have been seized upon by the grammar schools and hope that the National Youth Employment Executive lives up to that standard in its service to the secondary modern stream.
The second thing that would make the service more effective seems to us to be more research and knowledge on how to improve vocational guidance, how to interest and help the young people and their parents. These technical improvements will, we hope, come from the combination of active intelligent employing authorities and university departments.
I am very glad that the Minister has told us that he is asking the Central Youth Advisory Employment Executive to follow up a number of suggestions 89 for increased research contained in Lady Albemarle's Report. In particular, we hope that there will be a much more determined attack on the extent to which tests can be used in judging vocational suitability for different careers. We note with interest Lady Albemarle's suggestion that there should be research into the way in which the youth employment officers spend their time so as to spare them from the more routine jobs and free them for the counselling and liaison between industry and schools of further education for which they should be trained.
We are very glad that the Minister agrees that there would be virtue in a consumer viewpoint on the publications; and we should like to know his view—perhaps the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, will answer some of the questions that I shall be asking—on Lady Albemarle's suggestion that there should be a number of pilot schemes into the best way to carry out this necessary process of follow-up when the young people take their jobs. We should like to know also—and this is appropriate for the Department of Education—what is the Government's view of the recommendation that there should be a central information service for higher education, as recommended also in Lord Robbins' Report.
All these things I have mentioned are recommended by the Working Party, but I should like to make two or three suggestions on which Lady Albemarle does not touch. The first is that perhaps there is a lot for us to learn from other countries. I saw an article in "New Society", by Professor Lady Williams, pointing out that the French, because of their war experience, had an enormous job of training to do, and perhaps we can learn something from their procedures.
The second suggestion I want to make comes from industrial practice. Industry is now straining to define more precisely performance standards for managers, so that just as a man on a machine has his or its output measured, a manager's relative success or failure can be measured in a way that the manager himself agrees is fair. I wonder whether, after reading the tapestry of detailed proposals in the Report, what is needed is, not a sort of discipline that sees exactly what each youth employment officer does, but some 90 sort of job performance standard which youth employment officers themselves can recognise as fair and by which, on a sampling technique, effective performance can be judged. It may be that this is not practicable, but I put it forward as something that industry is seeking very hard to find.
The Minister was informative in what he said, but he flinched from giving us his own view on the point of raising the age which is, of course, central to the scope of the service. He asked for opinions elsewhere in the House. We on this side of the House are convinced that the age limit should be raised, and that it should be raised before 1970 if possible. There is a large sector of those needing help in further education and who, because of the increasing tendency to stay longer at school, let alone because of the increased statutory minimum age, are in need of the service and are out of reach of it. We therefore hope that the Minister, after his consultations with the local authorities, will bring forward legislation on that subject at least.
Still on the question of the effectiveness of the service and the methods for improving it, I am a little nervous to see that the Report suggests that the inspectorate should turn much of its attention from inspection to what the Report calls pastoral duties. I should have thought this a field, above all, where inspection is valuable. After all, what is being judged is the effective liaison between different bodies—industry, schools, further education and parents. This is a field where inspectors, by judging the knowledge that the youth employment officer has of all the separate sectors, can set a standard and improve a standard—set a standard by seeing that good practice is adhered to and improve a standard by imparting to others the improvements he learns when going round from the pioneers.
These are all suggestions for improving the effectiveness of the service. Now I come to the state of the service itself. Everyone can agree that the youth employment officer has a very heavy job to do even with the dip in the school leaving population we have at the moment and the net increase in the number of youth employment officers. I very much agree with Lady Albemarle's Committee that there is scope for more 91 research into the right size of case-load. We talk about 500 in the average caseload, but we must remember that that 500 includes half the grammar school population who do not in fact patronise the service, so it is probably a little less than 500 on average.
Youth employment officers have an immense amount to do. They have to steep themselves in local industry, really understanding what the jobs involve. They have to be familiar with the management of the firms, familiar with the schools—and there may be many in their areas. They have to be familiar with further education in all its complexity and have to find time for parents. If what we want goes through and counselling is a continuing process and not one lecture one interview, they will be handling not only the 500 who leave school in one year, but the 500 from the previous year and 500 from the pre-penultimate year, whose interests they will be trying to arouse. Not only have they the fit and healthy, but the infinitely time-consuming and infinitely worth-while job of advising the handicapped.
It is not easy at all to judge what the establishment should be. I hope that the Minister will take up Lady Albemarle's suggestion that there should be research into this. There is, clearly, need for more youth employment officers. I am glad that the Minister spoke of strengthening the supporting staff, but he did not exactly commit himself to any of the proposals in the Report for making this practicable. I hope that the Minister will tell us clearly what the Government view is on the career structure, the nationally agreed salary scales for posts of comparable responsibility—that will involve negotiations through the negotiating machinery—the salary differential for full-time training, the need to try to attract married women after their household duties become lighter, and the need to employ sub-professional staff as youth employment assistants.
The Minister did not mention the car-user's allowance to which reference is made in the Report. Although we do not expect a detailed answer for all of them, we should like to know something about the attitude of the Government to these crucial questions. I hope that the Government will realise, as I am sure they do, that as a result of the Industrial Training 92 Act industry is itself engaging many employment officers and the competition for staff will grow more. I am sure this is something to do with the wastage of trained staff to which my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr referred in an intervention.
I turn to the state of the schools. The House will note that my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill), who speaks for us on the Opposition Front Bench on education, is here to follow the debate. As the Minister said, this is a partnership between the schools and the Youth Employment Service. We know that under the influence of Newsom the schools are trying to make the last year in school an outward-looking year. We agree with the Minister entirely that counselling must be a continuous process of planned operation to overcome the indifference and ignorance which is only too common. We realise that this is yet another burden on the Youth Employment Service who have to help careers masters, at least at the beginning, in setting up their careers programmes and in such things as careers conferences.
There are two or three questions to which I hope the Minister of State will address himself if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. First, according to the Report, some schools deal only with young people who ask for help. It is commonly agreed that often those who most need help do not ask for it. Can we hope that the Department will try to overcome this over-narrowness of the Service? We note from the Report that the treatment of youth employment officers varies sharply. The treatment of Members of Parliament varies sharply, too! In so far as this means that some schools are not giving proper seriousness to the subject, we hope that Her Majesty's inspectors of schools will keep their eyes open for any lack of seriousness in treatment of the Service.
The Report refers to doubts which the Working Party had on whether careers teachers have the time, training and facilities they need. We cannot expect perfection at once, but we want to know that in the complete reappraisal of the curriculum which is going on in preparation for the higher school leaving age this vocational guidance will be given a most serious part in the curricula. It is also important that the Youth Employment 93 Service should be equipped both to give advice to school leavers about further education and to give advice to those in further education when they need advice. At the moment, this is largely left to private enterprise—I am exaggerating but it is substantially left to private enterprise. This is fine, but there should be an attempt by the service to serve this section, also.
London, under the L.C.C. I think, had a splendid advisory service. I regret that the Youth Employment Service did not make use of it and spread the material over the whole country. I am glad that the Minister agrees that there should be specialists in further education in the service and is urging the smaller local education authorities to join for this purpose. I press the Government to come to a prompt decision about the age limit on the Youth Employment Service because it cannot properly serve those in further education unless the 18 years limit is raised.
I wish to say a few words about industry where, of course, the Industrial Training Act will help the service by bringing in many more training officers who will define much more closely than many firms have so far defined the type of boy or girl they need. This will make the whole process of vocational guidance much more articulated. The youth employment officer should enter upon a series of systematic visits to employers in the neighbourhood areas to get a grip of what the jobs are. The Minister did not refer to Lady Albemarle's suggestion that youth employment officers should be guided as to the way in which they should make these visits and the method of classifying the information which might be useful. This guidance might be very helpful.
I turn now to the main theme of the Report, which is professionalism. The Minister has helped us a lot by his announcement this afternoon of extended training facilities. We welcome those. There still remain a number of anomalies. For instance, the Minister of Labour's staff are considered to be adequately trained with only three months' training, whereas L.E.A. staff are expected to have a year's training. We recognise that there are certain obvious causes here. The Ministry of Labour selects and does not 94 recruit. It selects from people with some employment experience. But there still seems to be a very wide gap.
We welcome the Minister's acceptance in general of Lady Albemarle's proposals that there should be specialists in further education and specialists in the handicapped, and that there should be a knowledge of the social services. Though we also welcome the Minister's proposal to retain in the service a second tier of his own departmental officers, as suggested by the Report, we would like to be reassured that this will provide some sort of added use of those officers who show a particular flair during their normal four or five year tour of duty in the Youth Employment Service. We welcome the general approach to the need for specialist training and increased training for the officers concerned.
As for parents, we recognise that some are indifferent, that some are over-keen and ambitious, and that there is often all too little talk at home before a child faces theses decisions. Therefore, we welcome the Minister's proposal to ask the C.Y.E.E. to pursue ways of involving parents more than they are now. We recognise also that the more parents are involved the more evening work there will be on the case load of the youth employment officer, but we are sure that in many cases this will be well worth while.
Turning to the young people themselves, I have taken a good bit from a book by a Mr. Carter called. "Home, School and Job", which, on the basis of certain surveys, warns us that a large number of children are scarcely aware of the choices before them or of the importance of the choice and that a minority of them do not have any conception of long-term satisfaction and do not look for any interest in their jobs. We must recognise that there are large numbers of jobs which are not very interesting but that this number will tend to decrease and that the school curriculum will no doubt be trying to stir the indifferent into interest. I suggest that there would be some value in research into how teachers could best awaken this interest. Perhaps the new university departments will help us all on this.
I return to the rôle of the inspector in watching the performance of different schools and how they handle the lectures, 95 the careers programmes and the interviews. It would be a great shame if the helpful eyes of inspectors were withdrawn from this whole service. I want to make one particular reference to one local authority, though I am sure that what I am about to say is equally true of all. I have been sent the Annual Report of the Youth Employment Service for Hertfordshire. I was impressed by the variety of the handicapped and their needs. There are listed here no fewer than 130 different handicapped children leaving school in that one year in that county in 50 or 60 different forms of disability.
It must be an enormously satisfying, though extremely difficult, service that the youth employment officer, in cooperation with specialists, and by case conference and with the social services, gives to the handicapped. I hope that the Minister will take very seriously the proposal in the Report and his own decision this afternoon that there should be training for specialist officers to help them further in this service.
There is an even harder job that the Youth Employment Service has than the handicapped, and that is the unsettled. Here, I would ask the Minister of State whether the Government will follow up Lady Albemarle's suggestion that there should be pilot schemes for referral of those people who need intensive help and counselling—the unsettled. Most of us remember the reference by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) in the last debate to the young boy who had had 17 different jobs in a matter of months. This imposes a big responsibility on the Youth Employment Service. It will need guidance.
I come now to perhaps the hardest of all the problems. That is the job of following up the school-leaver through his first jobs until he reaches the age of 18. We all recognise that this is important, not least to provide feed-back to the youth employment officer himself. Some people think—I have read Dr. Herford's book on this—that the appointed factory doctor has a part to play in this. My hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr referred to this in the last debate. The Minister himself announced in the last debate that the appointed factory doctor's 96 position was under review. We would like the Minister to consider, before making this impossible, whether the appointed factory doctor system would not be of considerable help, if it were kept as now, allied to the whole process of follow-up. I do not say this with authority. I say it simply with a request that the Minister should examine this possibility.
Finally, I come to the question of structure. Lady Albermarle shies from the decision or judgment as to whether this service should be primarily under the Ministry of Labour or the Department of Education and Science. I must say that I sympathise with her. Before legislation is embarked upon, the Government should consider whether they should embark on a wider vocational guidance programme, involving adults as well, than we have at the moment. If we are to have a larger system of vocational guidance, this will colour the decision that is made about where the main authority lies.
It may very well be that partnership is the right answer. I do not think that we can decide it for the Youth Employment Service without looking at the larger question. Whether, for the Youth Employment Service, there should be an option for those L.E.A.s which did not use it in 1948 or no option or no change should be decided within the larger framework. We on this side believe that legislation should come soon, at least to raise the age limit. We hope that the Minister will be able to make training compulsory, as recommended by Lady Albemarle's Working Party.
As for the larger issue, we shall not for a moment quarrel with the Minister about names. Lady Albemarle herself has some slightly rude things to say about the name adopted by us of Careers Advisory Service. What matters is the idea. I doubt if here there is much difference between the parties. We hope that the Government will adopt the proposal that comes from us, but which has friends on all sides, that there should be a larger vocational guidance service and we are determined, with the Government, that, either on its own or within the larger service, the Youth Employment Service should be a splendid service for those it seeks to look after.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
As a result of reading the Albemarle Report and listening to the two Front Bench speeches we have heard, everyone would reach at least two broad conclusions. First, we are debating a very important service. Secondly, we are debating a service—the Youth Employment Service—which has a long way to go before it develops its full potential.
I need not devote more than a few sentences to the first point. Obviously, this is an important service, because it affects the great majority of boys and girls, and it affects them at an extremely important moment in their lives. They come into touch with the service when they reach the crossroads in their development, when they are about to say goodbye to their life in school and enter the very different life at work. Therefore, the range of facilities open to them at this time and the quality of this service are obviously of very great importance to them and to their parents.
I think that there will be general agreement on the second point that the service has a long way to go before it achieves its full potential. This is obvious from reading the Report. It is a very polite Report. Nevertheless, it says some critical things. From reading the Report and previous articles and reports written about the Service, it is all too clear that there have been, and still are, three main deficiencies.
One which has been fairly well discussed by my right hon. Friend is the lack of really first-rate training, and facilities for training, available to the officers in the Service; and, additionally, until very recently, inadequate numbers. I think that the figure in 1956 was 900 youth employment officers and today it has reached something like 1,500. As the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) pointed out, one cannot get the dimensions of the work load that falls on individual employment officers by simply dividing the number of school-leavers by the number of officers. One has to consider their continuing work over a number of years with the number of school-leavers who pass through their hands. I recall, however, that numbers and training have been debated and bandied about since 1951. There was the 98 Percy Report, in 1951, which made all the splendid points which we heard earlier today, but not very much has happened since.
The second obvious deficiency in the service is that until recently there has been no manpower planning or thinking about manpower planning in this country at all. I often wonder what youth employment officers used to do when asked for advice by young people about the prospects of employment or about the future of a particular industry. What did they say? I suppose that they said, "The industry is here now and we hope that it will continue to be there in the years ahead", but they certainly had no one whom they could consult, no one to whom they could turn, because in those days planning, whether manpower planning or any other kind of planning, was a very unfashionable concept. But owing to the "bright young things", the radicals, who took over the party opposite in the last two years of their period in office, some of these things were put right and the Manpower Research Unit was established, as it should have been many years before.
A third deficiency in the Youth Employment Service which has not been remedied at all, and which is a deficiency or failure which goes beyond the field of youth employment, is that there is very little study of work going on in this country anywhere. It is rather difficult for intelligent advice to be given to individuals, taking account of their particular aptitudes, if one has little knowledge about the effects of work on particular kinds of people. We are terribly lacking in any serious study of work and the effects of work in this country. It is hardly touched upon even in this most recent Report.
Those are the deficiencies which underlie a great deal of the Youth Employment Service today and provide the framework within which one should look at the proposals now put forward. I shall not go over them all in detail—they are far too many—but I should like to take up my right hon. Friend's invitation to put forward some suggestions and put half-a-dozen points to him. I shall make four suggestions which have arisen in the Inner London Education Authority, of which I am a member, and 99 have been discussed in the sub-committee there which was appointed to consider the state of the Youth Employment Service and which was involved in submitting evidence to Lady Albemarle.
First is the question of the upper age-limit. Should it be 18, as it is today, or 21? I am a little disappointed that Lady Albemarle's Working Party, which discussed this question, did not come to a conclusion. I think that it should have come to a conclusion and that that conclusion is fairly obvious. The limit should be 21, because otherwise it will be too narrow a band with which the Service will be dealing, particularly when the school-leaving age goes up, to make an effective Service. The need for this kind of career counselling exists way beyond 18. It is an artificial restriction to impose that age ceiling. I therefore press upon my right hon. Friend that he should accept this suggestion.
The second suggestion is that schools should be required to send reports on all their pupils to the Youth Employment Service. I understand that the present situation is defined in one of the regulations under the 1949 Act and only requires such information to be sent to the Youth Employment Service in respect of young people who are actually leaving school at the statutory school-leaving age. This explains the very low figures for grammar school students in their use of the Youth Employment Service. It means that the older the pupils are the less the number who get through to the service and the less use is made of its facilities. Therefore, I think that there is a case there for making sure that this obligation under the regulations is extended to all school-leavers and should not be confined to those leaving at the statutory school-leaving age.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
Would the hon. Gentleman explain that point a little more? It is important. Is he saying that all schools should be required by law to send a report on the future capacities of all children who go through those schools, irrespective of whether they or their parents wish that report to be made?
§ Mr. Shore
As I understand it, the present regulation requires all local authorities to make a certain report. This 100 is not a very elaborate one and it is discussed in the Lady Albemarle document. They are required to report to the Youth Employment Service on all young people, whether those young people like it or not, who are leaving the school at the statutory school-leaving age. Therefore, all that I seek to do here is simply to extend the regulation to a slightly higher age bracket. There is nothing sinister in this. It means that the service will have an opportunity of counselling them if they wish to be counselled. There is no requirement on them to accept this, but it means that they will be brought into touch with the Service.
In making my third suggestion it surprises me that it is not the case already. There appears to be no obligation on employers to inform the Youth Employment Service if they have vacancies for young people. I find this extremely odd. I see no reason at all why this notice should not be given to the Service. It must be extremely restricting for it not to be able to know what jobs are available in an area except when it happens to hear about them or when employers voluntarily report those jobs. It would be a great help if employers were required to inform the service of jobs they have for young people.
I am also in favour of the point put by the T.U.C. on a number of occasions, that employers should be asked to give even more information than that and that once they have young people working for them they should be required to give such extra information as, for example, particulars of training facilities and reasons for dismissal when young people are dismissed from their employment. I am sure that this would help.
My fourth suggestion relates to the future of the Service. As we know, 80 per cent. of the Service is run by local education authorities and only 20 per cent. by the Ministry of Labour. I am not in favour of great upheavals—although I think that these are fairly minor matters—but, on the whole, there is a case for letting the local education authorities which had not previously exercised their right to have a chance to do so and to operate their own service. I cannot see that this would cause any great difficulty to anyone.
So much for those points. I think that all of them will be found in the evidence 101 submitted by the I.L.E.A. to the Albemarle Committee, but they are worth repeating because they have a good deal of substance.
Now, two further suggestions which are entirely my own. The first is very small, have never understood why we have to wait three years to get a report from the Youth Employment Council. This is an important body. We are interested in the statistics about employment and so on which appear in the appendices to their Reports, and we are interested also to know what the Council's appraisal is of the youth employment situation. Why should we have to wait three years to obtain reasonably adequate statistics about how young people are being placed in work and to what extent the service is being used by them? This should be put right, and an annual report would do it.
My last suggestion relates to research. I have mentioned already that, in the past, we lacked manpower research units nationally and that this has been a great deficiency. In my view, the Albemarle Report did not go quite far enough. As I recall it, Lady Albemarle's Working Party contented itself with recommending that the Central Executive should, as it were, sponsor and encourage more research. This is not really good enough. I should like to see set up a small, youth employment research unit. To some extent, it would, of course, be a junior partner of the Manpower Research Unit which now exists, but there is quite enough to do in this whole subject, and the setting up of a small research unit such as I suggest would certainly be justified. It would keep in touch with the senior Manpower Research Unit in order to know what the general manpower picture was likely to be nationally. It would also make a point of keeping in touch with the D.E.A. on regional employment statistics, a particularly important aspect of the problem, and in addition, it could well be given the particular job of collating information and studying the effects of work on young people.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I am very pleased to have an opportunity to take part in this debate. I took part in the previous debate on 102 5th February, 1965, initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies). My hon. Friend asked, on that occasion,Has the Youth Employment Service become the Cinderella of the social services?"[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th February, 1965; Vol. 705; c. 1399.]The fact that we have had two debates in such a short time and a further Report serves only to prove the interest which we take in the subject.
In that same debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber)—his words are reported in col. 1439 of HANsARD—promised that we should have evidence of keenness and enthusiasm in any report brought forward by Lady Albemarle, and we see today that he was, of course, absolutely right. I pay my tribute to her keenness and enthusiasm, although I regret in some ways that she has not come out more firmly with some more definite proposals. In the circumstances, I intend to stick my neck out a little today and make one or two suggestions of my own.
I was very interested to hear what was said by the Minister of Labour about employment and dead-end jobs. In the light of what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) on this subject and the mechanisation is increasing, I feel that far more attention should be given to the mentally handicapped. We do quite a lot for the physically handicapped, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, but it is the mentally handicapped who could be helped to become useful citizens.
In Plymouth, now we have a definite example of what can be done in our mentally handicapped centre. It has been going for only a comparatively short time, but already 11 young people who have never worked in their lives before are now doing a job in outside industry. What we call dead-end jobs ought to be related to what we have in mind for people of this kind, they could well be encouraged to take up such work, and perhaps graduate as have done those at the previously-mentioned centre.
What happens now—the Minister spoke of the difficulties in certain areas such as Cornwall particularly—is that, to get a job of any kind, many really intelligent people are going into dead-end jobs rather than be mobile. This raises one 103 of the disappointing features of the Report, in that nothing is said about encouraging mobility among young people. In my view, we should have what I think of as a "roving" senior youth employment officer who could go round telling youth employment officers of jobs in other areas. It has to be recognised that some people, if they want to make a really adequate start in life, will have to be mobile and not just go into dead-end jobs which would keep them on a very much lower standard than they could have if they were prepared to be mobile. I, therefore, would recommend also the establishment of a central register to which youth employment officers could apply for jobs in other areas.
Next, I should like to see the whole of this Service put under the Ministry of Labour. I do not wish to stop cooperation with the schools, and I am very keen also on further co-operation with the appointed factory doctors and with careers officers in the schools, but it seems to me that, when young people are leaving school, they want to feel that they are getting away from school, they want to think of themselves as becoming grownup and be made to feel rather important. Moreover, when young people get a little older—I hope that the suggestion for raising the age to 21 will be taken up—they will go automatically to the Ministry of Labour employment exchange.
In my view, it would be the best idea to improve facilities at the employment exchanges, having, if one likes, the delightful room spoken of by the Minister in the same building. One would then get continuity, with the young person going there at the beginning of his career and then later continuing to go there when he may need a more adult job. In this way, we should also, perhaps, get away from the fear of many young people of the "labour exchange" itself. The follow-up would be very much easier if it were all done through the employment exchange. For these reasons, I myself would come down on the side of gradually turning the service over to the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour.
This would be a very good moment to begin taking action. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right to stress the 104 excellent work done by the youth employment officers, but, of course, the youth employment officer does not have very much difficulty now in finding jobs for young people. The situation is rather the other way round, with more jobs than there are young people to fill them.
In paragraph 23 of its Report, "The Future development of the Youth Employment Service", the Working Party of the National Youth Employment Council said that it was convinced thatin the interests of the young person and the employer alike this should generally be regarded as a function which is proper to the Service rather than the school".This seems to support my idea of having it attached to and coming under the Ministry of Labour itself.
I said in my speech on 5th February last that this is probably the most important service which can be given to individuals, in giving them a happy life. As the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, the first job is the most important. If a young person does not get into the right job the first time, he or she can very often be frustrated, and this can contribute to delinquency. I was most interested to note in the Report that reference is made to contacts with borstals, approved schools and detention centres, but, regrettably, not remand homes.
This is a serious omission. I know that young people are, very often, in remand homes for only three weeks, but I am sure that, if the court knew that they had a good job to go to, it might well not be thought necessary to send them on to approved school or borstal. It would appear important, therefore, that contact be made with remand homes.
No reference has been made to joint appointments, or to places in teacher training colleges for careers courses. I hope that this will not be thought inconsistent with what I have just said about the Service coming under the Ministry of Labour. We will have careers teachers in schools even if the Service does come under the Ministry of Labour entirely, and, in my view, there could well be courses in the training colleges. It seems that the Report does not favour interchange, but I gather that it would be possible to train an officer in about a month. I should have thought that if 105 we were short this could be done during the course of a teacher's training.
Paragraph 23 of the Report says that where a school establishes contacts with employers, this will limit the choice of pupils and the selection by employers of candidates. I should not have thought that to be true. I should have thought that it followed up the remarks made by my right hon. Friend about grammar schools in that the headmaster would know his pupils extremely well and he generally has been in the area longer than the youth employment officer and be able to get the pupils very adequate jobs.
In many cases it can be done without the help of the youth employment officer. I recognise that this very often leaves the youth employment officer with a very difficult problem because he gets the young people who are less easy to place. Therefore, there should be as much cooperation as possible between the school authorities and the youth employment officers so that both know exactly what the other is doing.
The Minister mentioned apprentices and said that there were more than ever in training this year. Paragraph 27 says that in the recruiting of apprentices employers are likely to attach greater importance to the standard of education than to the possession of vocational skills. If this is true, which I doubt, it is a great pity. Not everyone can pass examinations or get passes at "O" or "A" levels, but they can be very adequate apprentices and do excellent work. We are probably losing many young people through relying too much on examinations and not enough on natural skills, so in my view it was a great pity to put this in the Report.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies), in col. 1302 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of our debate on 5th February, referred to the Dale Committee of 1951, which inquired into the Industrial Health Service and drew attention to the need for special training for the appointed factory doctor. I gather from what my right. hon. Friend said to the Minister that the future of that the training of the appointed factory doctor is still under consideration, but I should have thought that he would have a special relationship with the youth employment officer. Read- 106 ing reports, one finds that so much time is wasted through ill-health. Often the first person to realise that a young person is not fitted for his job is the factory doctor. He knows when the child is over-fatigued and has to keep on having days off, and I should have thought that he should be brought far more into co-operation with the youth employment officer. I gather in this regard that unique work has been done at Slough by Dr. Herford.
I am sorry that nothing has been said in the Report about more co-operation with the appointed factory doctor and also with the medical officers of the schools. I should have thought that the school medical officer should definitely be in contact with the youth employment officer so that they could be helped to appreciate the type of work—after all, physical fitness means a great deal—for which the young person is most fitted.
I am glad to see from the Albert Thomas Report, referred to in paragraph 95, that a course of training is to be established for youth employment officers wishing to specialise in the need for handicapped leavers. As, fortunately, the very physically and mentally handicapped are few and far between compared with the numbers being employed, it would be asking a great deal to suggest that all the officers concerned should be trained in this way, but I should have thought that we could have had a specialist category who could be called into an area by local authorities when children were leaving school in order to deal with these young people specifically. There might not be the right kind of job for the mentally or physically handicapped in the area, and such an officer would know where better facilities could be found. I do not think it is practical to expect all the youth employment officers to be fully trained in this respect.
I want to say one or two words about the employment of young girls. There is not sufficient realisation—if there is, it is not expressed in the Report—of the changing pattern of the life of young women. I say this because they marry so much earlier, they also have far better standards of education than ever before. Far too many of them are put into dead-end jobs. The youth 107 employment officer should encourage employers to take on girls even if it involves training. I was astonished to find from the 1961 figures that there were only 83 girls then in employment as, for example, chartered accountants.
I should have thought that this was a very valuable job for women to do because they could take work home at times when they did not wish to go to the office, for example, during pregnancy. But a great many employers will not take on girls for work which involves long training because of fear of losing them within a comparatively short time. If more girls were taken on in more worth-while jobs perhaps they would not marry so young because they would feel more independent, and when they had had their families they would probably be willing to go back to the job for which they had been trained again. The Central Office of Information reported that, on making inquiries, 60 per cent. of girls said they wanted to go back to work after they were married, so I believe that we are losing a great many of these young women by not fitting them into interesting jobs.
I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Stepney about the difficulty arising from not knowing where these jobs are. This must be a very frustrating thing for a youth employment officer. We tried an experiment in Plymouth of getting employers to put on an exhibition of the work in their factories. This was done specially because a factory making womens dresses was short of young women, and we wanted to encourage young men to take employment there because there were a number of unemployed young men locally. This was considered a useful experiment, and I am glad to say that young men took up the employment. There was a little teasing at the beginning, but I pointed out that Hartnell and others who make "posh dresses" are men. Young men did go into the factory, and now some of them have good careers.
I should have thought that television could have been used more. Surely a programme could be put on showing careers more frequently; I have not seen many good ones recently. A programme indicating the sort of careers that one could take would be much more useful 108 than a programme showing how one could shoot one's neighbour or blow open a safe, which we see all too often at present.
The Jubilee Trust Report of 1955, dealing with the industrial welfare society, reinforces my point about co-operation between medical staffs and youth employment officers. I think that is one of the most important things to be looked into in the future. I should like a questionnaire to go to school leavers rather earlier than at the moment; they change their minds so often about what they want to take up. It would be interesting to discover what they are thinking and get some idea of the type of job they are looking for when they leave.
There seem to be serious shortcomings in getting jobs for those in some secondary schools because their curriculum appears to be rather limited. I read a report about the Westgate County School, where counselling is engaged in. This was particularly interesting. It gave the reasons why young people were not satisfied with the first jobs they took up. I should like to see employers obliged to report to the youth employment officer when a young person changes his job. We have been told by my right hon. Friend of one young man who had 12 jobs in 39 months. I do not think that anyone in authority knew of the changes. This is most unsatisfactory.
Paragraph 21 of the Report says:While broad fields of responsibility can be distinguished we recognise that in practice the respective functions of the careers masters and the Y.E.O. are bound to overlap.I do not think that that is needed. Surely we can have co-operation. I should have thought that this was a major point where there should be co-operation. At the bottom of that page the words of the Headmasters' Association are reported:This entirely depends on personalities; with tact and a realisation that no one person or service can ever be complete, a valuable partnership can be developed.I should like to see a valuable partnership being developed in future, and under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour.
I recall the point made by Sir Alfred Owen, that 50 per cent. of our youth think not in terms of having a career but only in terms of getting a job. This is a difficult matter to get over not only for young persons, but also for parents. 109 Even today parents are very keen that their children should get a job and earn good money, and perhaps they do not look for the best job for the child. There may also be a little fear that the child—this happens in some cases—may earn more money than his father. We have girls earning, for instance, as typists, more than their fathers get as unskilled workers in the dockyard, and this may make for family difficulties. This is where the youth employment officer can help.
Then there is the question of rural employment, which is becoming more mechanised. Surely some form of cooperation with the N.F.U. could have been mentioned in the Report. Whatever happens, we need to keep a certain percentage of young people on the land and we have to make it seem to be the important job that it is, but no mention in the Report was made of workers in rural areas. I hope that the Minister will look into this and see whether special training cannot be given in courses for youth employment officers so that they may know the problems of rural areas.
There is to be an extra year at school, but I am not certain that all individuals will be able fully to benefit from the extra scholastic study. Would it not be possible for them while still at school to make more visits to factories, perhaps even to get some small jobs sent into the school for them to do so that they could get the idea of work while still at school? I hope that the Minister will consider this point, because I am a little worried about some of the young people who are not very scholastically inclined and may find the last year wearisome and boring.
Perhaps we could arrange to fill in the final year at school by the provision of some occupational work of a type done in factories. Some handicapped people have work sent in to them and there is no reason why work could not be sent to schools to let young people know what happens in industry. I welcome the Report and this debate and I hope that some of my suggestions may be considered.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)
This debate is about a very fine Report. But I must admit that my first reaction on reading the Report was one of frustration. So many excellent reports about young people have been 110 issued in the last 10 or 15 years. They have all been very exciting. They have all tempted us to feel that we are doing such a great deal of good work among young people. But then one realises the tremendous difficulties facing the nation.
In this case, I was frustrated when I thought about how much we should be doing, even about the minimum, if we are to help our youngsters to adjust themselves to this modern, complex society. I am glad that I have not to make the decisions on what are the highest priorities. Above all, the Youth Employment Service suffers from a lack of resources. First, it needs a great deal more money. Secondly, it needs much more manpower to do its very difficult and vital job. On balance, I believe that the Department of Education and Science should be responsible for the Y.E.S. It may well be that, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) said, a partnership is the most efficient way at the moment, but, nevertheless, I feel that, in the end, this is a job for the Department of Education and Science.
I am becoming rather concerned about the number of those who talk about schools going to industry, about youngsters visiting factories, and so forth. That talk goes on every day. I think that there is as great a need for people in industry to realise what is going on in the schools. Too many people think of school as it was when they attended and do not realise the tremendous changes that have taken place in secondary education. While I am all for pupils and teachers seeing what is going on in industry, I wish that industry could have a clearer idea of what is going on in the schools.
The area I know best has suffered somewhat because, where there has been an excessive number of school leavers unable to find jobs, we have looked to the Y.E.S. and, therefore, the Service has been seen by ill-informed outsiders, if I may call them that, as a new device to help youngsters who would not otherwise have found a job. In all too many instances, the Service has been regarded as one which brought a youngster in touch with a job, almost any job, thereby fulfilling its purpose. We know, however, that we are getting out of that kind of situation. I envisage the time when there will be much more choice all over 111 the country for youngsters taking up careers. There are, however, three things which should be central to our organisation of youth employment.
We need to know, first, far more about the school leavers, about the youngsters themselves. We should know more about their background and their potential. I was interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about research into aptitudes tests, and so on. In the United States a great deal has been done on this subject and here there is certainly room for a great deal of research. We want to know far more about the school leavers, both boys and girls.
Secondly, we need to do far more about informing youngsters and parents of the opportunities for further education. I am often horrified by the fact that so many youngsters have no idea of what is going on in further education colleges in their areas. Indeed, one finds a similar lack of knowledge among those who should know —people in the schools, and so on.
Thirdly, there must be closer liaison with prospective employers. Perhaps I shall say something that will tread on some toes, but I much regret the trend in the past few years—which has been welcomed by some of my colleagues in the profession—of extending the examination system to more and more youngsters. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) that we have laid far too much stress on the production of pieces of paper indicating so many O-levels, or whatever else may be required. We now have even department stores demanding two and three O-levels for their assistants.
As a headmaster, I can tell the House that if an employer came to me I could point out to him the youngsters likely to be good employees in his concern. I could show him those likely to make good in his industry. I think that we have gone a bit far in imposing examinations on youngsters and in being so anxious to produce pieces of paper which will be passports to particular careers.
I concede and, indeed, assert that young people in school need expert guidance from people outside who are in close touch with industry and who have an intimate knowledge of the requirements of a particular job and the changes likely 112 to take place. In the United States, it is taken for granted that the up and coming generation will change jobs on average every ten years. No doubt there will be much more mobility here than before. Young people therefore need guidance from some person with outside experience. But such persons must be part of the educational system dealing with the youngsters in the schools.
I am not introducing this view to score points, but in my experience the development of the larger school—the comprehensive school—will help with the development of the Y.E.S. Where there is a school with a ten-form entry, normally there will be about 300 school leavers in a year. Such a figure enables a full-time career adviser or master to be appointed who will be in close touch with the local authorities and the youth employment officer, basing his work on detailed knowledge of the youngsters and of their potential.
§ Dr. Wyndham Davies
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned research work in the United States in relation to career placement. Does he also know that work done in the United States shows how unsatisfactory a careers master in a large school can be in comparison with the system of having the job done by someone outside who knows something about the jobs in the area rather than about the children in the schools?
§ Mr. Armstrong
I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but I suggest that it all depends on the training and responsibility given to the careers master. I am not saying that he should be a teacher in the school, but that he should be employed full-time on his job. Such a system would mean that he would be in constant touch with those requiring advice and would be doing an effective job.
The Report reminds us of the vital decisions taken in the life of a youngster at the age of 13. It is rather terrifying to meet so many youngsters, some of them above average intelligence, who, at 13, have taken a decision, probably on limited advice, on which they look back with some regret. Here again, children could have the benefit of the advice of professional people so as to ensure as far as possible that right decisions are taken at 13 plus.
113 Another advantage of the large school in this context is the careers convention, to which outside employers are invited so that youngsters, teachers and parents can investigate what is required. They can thereby make a wiser choice.
For the Newsom child, the vocational approach is tremendously important. We must not try, when a child is 13 or 14, to decide a particular job and lay on a course in the school which will channel a child into a narrow occupation but it is possible—and is being done successfully in many schools—to lay on the sort of courses which will cover a number of occupations. In this context, I was interested in what the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport has to say about the extra year at school perhaps not being profitable to all our youngsters.
In a large school, the offer ought to be made to youngsters at the age of 13 or 14, "This is the sort of course that, on all the evidence we have, we think that you ought to take to prepare you for some kind of occupation in this range." They would not be told that they are to stay at school for another year. They would be told that it was a two-year course which they would begin in their third year in the secondary school.
In the north of England, unfortunately, we have rather a bad reputation for children not staying on after the statutory leaving age. From my own experience, I can state that there are many reasons for it. It is not because our children are different from those in the South. Obviously, there are other factors. At the school which I know, for the last two years they have had a careers convention, which involves a great deal of work, and each child in the third year at that school has been invited to undertake a two-year course. The percentage of those who have accepted and stayed on after the statutory leaving age is well above the national average. Certainly, we had never anticipated that that could be achieved in the north of England, but it is being done now.
That brings me to the other point, and that is how the Youth Employment Service can have such an influence on the education service, once the child and the parents begin to realise that what is going 114 on in school is relevant to what the child wants to do when he or she leaves school. It changes the whole attitude of the home and the child to school, and the interest not only in the narrower field of engineering or whatever it is the child is doing but over the school curriculum as a whole changes remarkably. Once children recognise that what they do at school is relevant to what they are going to do in adult life, the great changes have to be seen to be believed.
I am concerned about the status of the service. If we are to have outsiders —by that I mean those who are not actually within the school—visiting schools on equal terms, they have to have parity not only in salary and conditions of work. In my view, most of them ought to be graduates. If they really are to do this job with the grammar school type of child, they have to meet the people in school on equal terms and, as a result, status is very important for the future of the Youth Employment Service.
I do not like the dual system. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), I think that we should make a gesture, and make it fairly soon. Mention has been made of the 20 per cent. who are working for the Ministry of Labour, and one of the difficulties is that a number of them have been so good in the job that they have been promoted and have had to leave the Service. It cannot be a good thing that as soon as a man becomes any good in the Service he is upgraded and leaves it.
The adjustment of youngsters into a very complicated adult life is a tremendous problem which confronts those in school every day. They recognise all the difficulties, and I would pay tribute to what the Service has already accomplished. Those in the Service are certainly dedicated and, when we look at their conditions of service, it is clear that some of them have stayed because they regard what they are doing as being well worth while.
As a result of the Report, I hope that we may feel that the Service ought to have rather higher priority than it has had in the past, because I am certain that it can make a vital contribution to the future happiness of our youngsters.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hunt (Bromley)
I am very pleased to have an opportunity of making a brief contribution to the debate. As a former Chairman of the Youth Employment Committee in my constituency of Bromley, naturally I read the Report of the Working Party with great interest. But, having read it, I feel bound to say that I cannot join wholeheartedly in the praise which has been showered upon it in the debate so far. I agree very much with the verdict reached by the Institute of Youth Employment Officers, which found it a generally disappointing and uninspiring document.
I have always felt that the absence of any practising youth employment officers on the National Youth Employment Council was a serious disadvantage to it in its work and, as the Working Party was drawn exclusively from the ranks of the National Council, it meant that that lack of anyone with practical experience in the field was perpetuated in the membership of the Working Party. It may be that that accounts for some of the woolliness of its recommendations.
It has been said, rightly I think, that developments such as the Industrial Training Act, 1964, and the proposed raising of the school-leaving age will have the effect of extending enormously the scope and opportunities of the Youth Employment Service. I am sure that that is so, and I am quite convinced that there now has to be a corresponding advance in the status of the profession.
The Report brings out a very disturbing fact when it tells us that of nearly 1,300 youth employment officers at present in local authority service, 250 have received no training at any time. That is very disturbing. The Report goes on to tell us that the majority of them have merely attended courses for a few weeks. That is really not good enough, and I was delighted to hear the Minister say earlier that the Government firmly intend to step up the quite inadequate training facilities which are available.
I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong), who told us that we had to face up to far greater expenditure in this vital service. We really have to allocate more than the £5 million or so a year which, when one considers the responsibilities of the Service, is a piti- 116 fully small amount. It is an expenditure which has lagged far behind the level of expenditure on education generally over recent years.
Again as the hon. Member for Durham, North-West said, for many years the Youth Employment Service was regarded as almost the last resort by the youngster who failed to find a job anywhere else. Over recent years, happily, there has been some improvement in the image of the Service, but it is still an unhappy fact, which is brought out in the Report, that the job-finding facilities of the Service today are being used by a shrinking proportion of school leavers, mainly the younger and less able ones.
It is estimated in the Report that only 40 per cent. of school leavers in the United Kingdom are at present finding jobs through the Youth Employment Service. As my right hon. Friend mentioned in his speech earlier, far too often the Service tends to be one for the secondary modern rather than for the grammar school leaver, and he brought out figures showing that the proportions of leavers being interviewed in each category are 90 per cent. and 50 per cent. respectively.
It seems to me that facts such as these tend to be glossed over in this Report, and in this respect I think it can be accused of some complacency. For example, nowhere in the Report is it mentioned that 1,300 schools in this country now subscribe to the private agency Careers Research and Advisory Committee, to which my right hon. Friend referred, which specialises in finding opportunities for young people in industry, particularly sixth-formers.
In this way the youth employment officers are being by-passed and ignored. This is a reflection on the Youth Employment Service, and also, of course, on the Government's attitude to it, and I hope that the Minister's speech this afternoon heralds a change of heart in this respect, because there is an urgent need to improve the status of the profession, not only in the training and remuneration of the officers, but also in the appearance of the premises in which they are asked to work.
On that point, I am glad that the Minister supported the criticism in the Report of the dingy and badly sited 117 offices in various parts of the country, because as the Minister rightly pointed out, it has a bad psychological effect on youngsters who have grown up in the modern and exciting buildings which, happily, today form part of our schools to have to go to ancient and depressing offices to seek advice for their future careers. An additional point is that old premises of this type make it that much more difficult for youth employment officers to compete successfully with the more brash and brassy private employment agencies.
On the question of pay, I strongly support the plea which the Report makes for a nationally agreed and implemented salary scale. I am sure that this is long overdue, and there is no doubt that the present quite illogical disparities between one area and another are a contributory factor to the high level of turnover within the Service, which is one of the disturbing aspects of it.
Is it not time that the Minister intervened to stop the quite archaic system in Scotlaid—I think that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) knows the point I am going to raise—whereby women youth employment officers are forced to resign immediately they marry? This seems to be a scandalous situation, and I think that it calls for a direct statement by the Government. We have to improve the status of youth employment officers. We have to acknowledge, too, that in future they will form a more integral part of the schools which they serve.
Careers masters have been mentioned in this debate. They have a rôle to play, but, as we all know, the effectiveness of their contribution depends partly on the personal inclination of the headmaster concerned as well as on the individual commitments of the careers master who happens to be appointed. For example, if a sports master is in charge—and this happens from time to time—it is often found that he has not the time, particularly out of school hours, to give advice on careers.
I think that in future youth employment officers will have to become more and more directly involved with the curricula in the schools in their areas, at the same time co-operating very closely with the teaching staff in those schools. 118 As an example of the sort of thing which we ought to encourage, I would quote the initiative of a number of headmasters in Kent who invited the local youth employment officer to be present, in a consultative capacity, at a meeting with the parents of third-year pupils when additional subjects for the fourth and fifth years were being discussed.
That is the sort of thing that we want to encourage, and the same officer also gave a preliminary talk to third-year pupils to assist them in their choice of subjects as they progressed through the school. I am sure that with the raising of the school-leaving age this kind of vocational guidance within the school as a regular part of the school curriculum from the third year onwards will become increasingly vital.
I think that this growing involvement of the Youth Employment Service with the actual working of the schools, and also its involvement in the sphere of further education, highlights what I consider to be the anachronism and irrelevance of its retaining links with the Ministry of Labour. Here I am diametrically opposed to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers), who, happily, has now left the Chamber. I think that it illustrates one of the difficulties in which any Minister is placed in this respect.
It seems an absurd anomaly that most youth employment officers are employed by local education authorities, and yet are subject to inspection by the Ministry of Labour. This dual system dates hack to the pre-1914 era, and I believe that the time has come for us to go much further than the Report recommends. It is not enough for the small number of local authorities which in 1948 opted to remain with the Ministry of Labour merely to be given a second chance. I think that we should take the far more radical and realistic step of making it mandatory on all local authorities to set up a Youth Employment Service.
It is an absurd situation that employment officers under the Ministry of Labour can be expected to remain in this field of work for only four years. This point was made by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West. It is equally ridiculous that those who show the greatest flair and aptitude for their work find themselves automatically promoted to 119 another sphere of the Department's activity and are then lost to the Youth Employment Service.
I am, therefore, convinced that the entire responsibility for this Service should now be vested in the Department of Education and Science, and if it is wished, as I hope it will be, to retain many of the Ministry of Labour youth employment officers who have done excellent work, we shall have to face up to paying them realistic salaries and presenting them with comparable prospects to attract them into the local authority based Youth Employment Service.
My final point is on the question of the title and upper age limit of the Service. In some ways I think that the two issues are inter-related, because, with the extension of the Service into the spheres of further education, industrial training, and work experience, youth employment officers are tending to deal with more adult and mature youngsters. At the same time, as the Report rightly brings out, it is very important that during this transition period from school to work the young people concerned should be able to expect continuity in the advice which they receive.
As we all know, it is during this period that so much depends on mutual trust and confidence between the two sides, and in these circumstances I agree with the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), who urged that the upper age limit of the Youth Employment Service should now be raised to 21. If we decide to do this, it will become imperative to change the name of the Service, because to someone of 21 the word "youth" is automatically associated with his acne-ridden past. Therefore, to that extent, we shall need to think again about a name.
I am sorry that in our debate a year ago the Government spokesman appeared to dismiss this growing pressure for a change of title, and I was not impressed by the Working Party's rather lame objections to the title "Careers Advisory Service", which I think has been suggested from this side of the House, and which to me seems the most appropriate of all the names and titles which have been suggested so far.
Although the recommendations of the Working Party are less dynamic and 120 dramatic than many of us had hoped, it has, nevertheless, produced a useful and workmanlike Report. In spite of my earlier criticisms I wish to place that on record. Not the least of its virtues is the fact that it has given the House the opportunity of a comprehensive and wide-ranging debate on this very important subject, and I am grateful for having had the opportunity of making a small contribution to it.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxeth)
All the excellent points the brief of the Institute of Youth Employment Officers now having been exhausted, I hope that I may be able to make a few observations showing why I am very disappointed in the Working Party's Report. When we think of youth employment we consider those people who are going to benefit most by the services offered. We must face the fact that, generally speaking, a large percentage of our young people, especially those who are academically gifted, will obtain employment off their own bat, and that many others who are not so academically gifted will do likewise. What I am concerned with is the small percentage of people who, because of their mental or physical handicaps, will have a difficult time finding any suitable employment.
I am particularly disappointed in the Report in view of the wonderful report on the youth services prepared by the Albemarle Committee a number of years ago. I was hoping that this Report would contain radical thoughts as to the use to which youth employment officers might be put. Having had the opportunity, over many years, of seeing people appearing before school attendance committees for being absent from school—people with a background of bad homes, who have become backward academically because of their absences; who have been placed in unsuitable employment, and have eventually landed themselves in court, where I have had the opportunity of discussing these matters with them—I am convinced that despite what the hon. Member for Birmingham, Parry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies) said, what is required is a youth employment officer who is also a welfare officer, if possible associated with a certain school.
121 I believe that merely to provide that we shall have a teacher in a certain school who, time permitting, will give some attention to the best employment of his pupils, is to shirk the issue. In nine cases out of ten a teacher who is given that responsibility cannot possibly find the time to do the job properly. However gifted he may be, no youth employment officer, by mere contact with a boy's tutor, on perhaps one or two occasions, and by means of an interview with the boy, can possibly know for what type of employment that boy is best suited.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
I am not sure that I have understood the hon. Member's intention. Does he envisage a youth employment officer and a welfare worker, together associated with one school, or is he saying that the youth employment officer should be trained as a welfare worker?
§ Mr. Crawshaw
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for the opportunity to elucidate that point. The youth employment officer should also be a welfare officer. It is necessary for such an officer to know the family background of the person with whom he is dealing. Unless that officer is employed whole time at the school, doing one job—or, perhaps, in the case of smaller schools, being employed at two or three schools—it is not possible for the job to be done properly.
We read in the Working Party's Report that:We wish to see the Youth Employment Officer regarded in the school not as an occasional visitor from outside but as an essential member of the school's' career team'".That tells us what goes on today. The officer visits the school occasionally. Does anybody really believe that, however gifted such an officer may be, he can do a good job with a young person with whom he comes into contact on only one or two occasions?
The people to whom we should be paying attention are those with bad home backgrounds. They are the ones who will have difficulty in life. Unless the officer has had an opportunity of seeing that home background and discussing all the problems not only with the boy but with the parents he will not be able to make a success of his job, and we shall not be able to make a success of any youth employment agency.
122 The handicapped pupil is handicapped in every way in life, and not simply academically. If we raise the school-leaving age to 16 it will serve no purpose to keep young people at school if they are never going to be gifted academically so that they can take up a job in which their extra year's tuition will be of some use.
I am very interested in work experience schemes. I know that difficulties exist with that type of scheme, in which a young person is enabled not only to visit work on one or two half days a week but also to assist in the work, but too many of our young people today are destined to go to a certain factory either because it is the local one or because their fathers work there. Until the boy gets there he has not the slightest idea of what the work will entail. If he went there for two or three half-days he might say to himself, "That is not the sort of work that I want to do", but having left school, and it being necessary for him to have a job, he cannot get out of it. A great deal of research is necessary in connection with work experience schemes, but I believe that we can get untold benefit from them.
Many of the problems which affect a young person, not only in his studies but in the type of job that he has to take up, can be dealt with only by a welfare officer. We read in the Report that there may be some overlapping. Those of us who know anything about local authorities know that there is often so much overlapping that some officers are almost submerged. When a case conference is called concerning a boy who has not been going to school regularly and it is found that difficulties exist at his home, one department is called in, and then another is called in. In the end there may be 10 or 12 different officers, each visiting the house in question for a particular purpose. Furthermore, there may be 8 or 10 different views as to what the family should do.
These are the sort of problems that exist also in relation to the employment of our young people. Until we get this work centralised, in the hands of one officer who knows the whole backgrounds of the young people with whom he is concerned, and all the difficulties that they are experiencing, this Service will not be a real success. I had hoped that 123 the Report would give some idea of a radical change. All it has done is to say, in effect, "We have been giving a certain amount of medicine in the past, which has brought some results: let us simply double the dose and thus, perhaps, bring greater improvements". That is not the way in which we should tackle this problem. A radical change is needed. I cannot see it in this Report.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James A. Kilfedder (Belfast, West)
I had been looking forward to the publication of this Report, but, like the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt), I felt some disappointment on reading the results of the Working Party's labours. The principal recommendations in the Report are mostly based on views expressed by youth employment officers and youth employment committees for a number of years. There is little new in the Report, though, of course, one is glad to see that many of these ideas are at last receiving official sanction.
Part 3 of the Report is concerned with the Employment and Training Act of 1948 and I should like to comment mainly on this aspect. The Report mentions the dual system of administration at local level, where responsibility lies sometimes with the local education authority and sometimes with the Ministry of Labour, with the Central Youth Employment Executive providing a "headquarters" representing both educational and employment interests. The Report says that this is-not the time to make a change in the existing arrangements. That is not the proper attitude to take, and I am sorry that the Working Party should have shirked a decision in this respect.
One reason for the Report is the great industrial changes, particularly the technological advances, which have caused the decline of old skills and the emergence of new ones. One of the great problems in industrial training today is that the skill for which a young person is trained may not be required in ten or twenty years. What is needed is a good solid education, coupled with flexible training schemes, which would enable the young adult to move from one technological environment to another without 124 too much difficulty. The average young person will in future, it seems, have to be prepared to change his job perhaps two or three times before he reaches retirement, not by choice, but because of the introduction of new processes and new methods.
The other reason for the Report is the development in education. Of course, the Report refers in this respect to the Brunton and Newsom Reports There are two factors at work here—the tendency to remain at school beyond the minimum school-leaving age, a trend which will be consolidated, as the Report points out, when the minimum age is raised from 16 by 1970, and the use which is made by schools of the extra time which they will thus be given. Both Brunton and Newsom suggested that the final years of secondary education for the average child—I paraphrase what they said—should be deliberately outgoing and outward-looking towards employment and further education, so that the school leaver is prepared for the outside world.
There is no greater disease in employment than frustration. This danger can be lessened by education and guidance and proper placement in employment. I believe that part of the reason for the tremendous delinquency problem which we have today is frustration, caused not only by dead-end jobs in which there is no interest but by the fact that a youngster has taken up the wrong employment and therefore moves from one job to another. In general, most of the young people who appear before our courts have a record of having been in many jobs.
Today, of course, parents cannot provide the guidance to a son or daughter because many of them have not the experience needed to help their boy or girl find the right job. Even teachers do not have a full knowledge of industrial work. The youth employment officer has a most important job to perform, because he will influence the young person by placing him in a job which may be his for the rest of his life.
I read recently that it is possible to identify over 2,000 jobs in this country. Their geographical distribution makes the task beyond the competence of either parent or teacher and places a very difficult burden on the youth employment 125 officer. I, like other hon. Members present, feel that the Youth Employment Service has not yet been fully developed and I am disappointed that the Working Party did not examine any of the very interesting organisational developments which have taken place in other parts of the Continent.
If the vocational guidance services are to be introduced into the school curriculum at a much earlier stage—as envisaged by both Brunton and Newsom—than the final term or year, both the nature and length of the co-operation between youth employment officers and teachers will be affected. In France, where the school-leaving age has been 16 since 1959, vocational guidance centres have been established. The centres are intended, to quote a Council of Europe publication:… to provide adolescents, families and social services with aid in resolving every guidance problem.Since 1959, the rôle of the centres has been extended to include educational guidance. Thus, all pupils at the secondary stage are entitled to the advice of the centres, both educational and vocational.
Of course, in France, the responsibility lies with the Ministry of Education, and a similar situation is found in Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria. It seems logical—I disagree here with my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers)—that the attachment in this country should be to the Department of Education and Science. There is a very interesting example of this practice not far away, in Northern Ireland. It is a pity that the Working Party did not examine the system in Northern Ireland. Vocational guidance and placement of young people in employment there are in the hands of a statutory board, the Northern Ireland Youth Employment Service Board, which receives four-fifths of its finance from voted money and one-fifth from local rates, and is representative of both educational and industrial interests. In Northern Ireland, too, the responsibility is that of the Ministry of Education.
There are three other matters which I should like to mention briefly. First is the title of the service. This is very important. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley has already referred to the 126 subject and, like him, I believe that the emphasis should not be on "youth." I should like to see the age of the people with whom the service is concerned increased to 21. The present title of Youth Employment Service is also wrong, because it emphasises the employment rather than the educational aspect of its work. To the list of names which are suggested in the Report, I should like to add another—the Vocational Guidance and Employment Service. This seems to help to emphasise the two main functions of the Service: vocational guidance and placement. A change of name is also needed for the youth employment officer. His present title is not truly descriptive of his job. I should suggest some such title as "Vocational Guidance Officer".
I cannot end my speech without dealing with the question of the payment of unemployment benefit to young persons who find themselves out of work. Entitlement to unemployment benefit does not arise from an assessment of individual needs, but from the satisfaction of statutory conditions. The decision that must be given on a claim may frequently be at variance with the professional opinion of the youth employment officer as to what is best for the young person concerned.
I understand that opinions on this question are fairly evenly divided, but I suggest that to make the youth employment officer responsible for the payment of unemployment benefit puts the wrong emphasis on his work and associates the officer too closely with the "dole" and not enough with employment, placing and guidance.
It has been said by a number of youth employment officers that the system provides an opportunity for them to see those most in need of help—the young unemployed. In Northern Ireland we have a splendid and simple expedient, because while the complex machinery required to pay unemployment benefit is retained by the Ministry, the unemployed young person has his claim dealt with at the youth employment office by staff from the Ministry who visit the office for that purpose. There the youth employment officer has an opportunity of seeing the young person. Thus, when the youngster visits the office twice a week, the youth employment officer can 127 make whatever arrangements he considers are necessary and give his professional guidance.
I welcome the Report and hope that the Minister will lose no time in examining what amendments might be required to the Employment and Training Act, 1948. This is a valuable service and many fear that not enough is being made of it. More must be made of it because it is concerned with young people. We must do everything in our power to find them the right jobs at this important stage of their lives.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Dr. Wyndham Davies (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
We are grateful for the hard work which was done by Lady Albemarle and her Committee, though this does not prevent us from expressing some disappointment about the Report or from pointing to the general lack of bite, as it has been described, particularly by those who are intimately concerned with the service. While we also congratulate the Minister of Labour on his speech today, I detected a certain lack of a sense of urgency in his remarks and hope that he will place more emphasis on some of the points I shall discuss.
I hope that because the Minister of State for Education and Science has been the only representative on the Front Bench opposite for most of the afternoon, he will pass on to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour the views which have been expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the place of the appointed factory doctor in the Service and the urgent need to write some of these ideas into the structure of the appointed factory doctor service which, we hope, will shortly be forthcoming from the Ministry.
On 5th February last year this subject under discussion today was dealt with in depth by many of my hon. Friends and I and a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite and I do not propose to go over all the arguments I used in a fairly long speech on that occasion. However, certain matters need reiterating and I wish to particularly emphasise the economic value of the Youth Employment Service to the country. For example, the Albemarle Report stated, in paragraph 76: 128… anything contributing to the earlier and more successful adjustment of young people to working life should be of value not only to young workers themselves but also to employers and to the community on both economic and social grounds.This is so important that I took the liberty of asking a senior youth employment officer in my constituency to give me a few examples of how the Service is of help. The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) asked what was being done for the mentally handicapped and implied that not enough was being done. I assure her that in those areas where the Service is being run efficiently, such as in Birmingham, much is being done.
One example I was given concerns a severely educationally subnormal girl—so low in her intelligence that the tests gave no reliable indication of her intelligence quotient. However, she was educated at a special residential school, although naturally her family, which is of superior mental ability, was caused considerable problems. By a great deal of effort, the Service found her a simple packing job and today, two years later, she is not only happy in her job but is proud of being able to earn her own keep. This is the type of service which needs to be expanded more widely.
Another example is of a schoolgirl with multiple handicaps, being profoundly deaf, partially sighted, with a defect of the spine and suffering from skin trouble. Academically she was in the bottom 15 per cent. of her class. After four months effort and innumberable telephone calls and visits by the youth employment officer, she was placed with a sympathetic employer and is today happy in her work.
There is then the case where the youth employment officer acts as guide, philosopher and friend. A grammar school boy was sent by the head of his school to see the youth employment officer outside normal routine. The boy was due to begin his second year in the sixth form but was thinking of leaving school. On the advice given to him by the youth employment officer the boy returned to school, took his A-levels and is now training to be a teacher. If it had not been for the high standard of training and understanding of that youth officer that boy might have been lost to the teaching profession.
129 Another example concerns a technical schoolboy who was referred to the youth employment officer by his headmaster but who, although he had four O-levels and was likely to get three more in the November examinations, felt compelled to leave school because of a financial crisis at home. He thought of going to a building site to make some quick money while trying to study for his A-levels. Once again, the youth employment officer was able to interview the lad and see that he got some help so that he could continue with the subjects which he found most interesting, which were biology and chemistry. That boy is now working in the environmental health sphere.
Then we have the problem of the misfit, such as the boy at a non-selective secondary school who wanted to go into painting and decorating but who was then found to have heart trouble. This is an example of where the appointed factory doctor, by attending regular sessions, might assist the youth employment officer. In this case, on medical advice, the boy was found much more suitable work than climbing up high ladders and performing the hard work required of a painter's mate.
I could give many more examples of youngster; who have been unsettled by unsatisfactory school careers and who not only need the welfare activities suggested by some hon. Members but who also need all the depth of skill and training that can be obtained from every possible source.
My right hon. Friend questioned the Minister on certain aspects of Dr. Herford's scheme at Slough. This was a 'most valuable experiment in the cooperation of the Youth Employment Service with the medical service and the educational service, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer) has an opportunity later to develop that point. As a doctor, I understand the suggestion is, broadly, that the Youth Employment Service should call young people forward for a medical examination and take the opportunity when they attend of conducting a review of their progress at work. The advantages of such a procedure would be that young people would be under an obligation to attend, and the combination of a general progress review with a medical progress review would lead to an 130 early identification of problems. It is important that a scheme on these lines should not only be running experimentally but should be actively encouraged.
The problem of the status of the Youth Employment Service can be tied up with something that the Minister carefully skipped over—the whole problem of salaries and prospects. Sufficient has not been put into the Report itself on that aspect. The key to quality in any social service is the calibre of its people. This is true of the Youth Employment Service in particular, because this debate has so far shown that hon. Members on both sides would give to the youth employment officer all sorts of jobs requiring a knowledge of human nature, of psychology, of education, of job prospects, and so on.
If we are to get the type of men to fill these posts, we have to pay them properly and see that they have a proper career structure. This statement has been made time and again by employers' organisations and by the Trades Union Congress, and I regret that there is no serious mention of increase of salary and of status in this Report, nor did the Minister touch on the subject at all. I hope that the Government spokesman will later be able to tell us why this problem of pay and prospects has not been considered further.
My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Kilfedder) has referred, as have one or two other hon. Gentlemen, to a possible change in central control—the removal of the Youth Employment Service from the Ministry of Labour to the Ministry of Education. I have met a number of enthusiasts on this subject and find very divided opinion. Some of them are enthusiastic to move the Service to the educational side because they feel that they will then have an opportunity of developing the Service as they would like to see it developed under the care of the educationists. Against that are the much shrewder people who know that between 1910 and 1948 too much time was spent on sterile arguments about the merits and demerits of the different types of control, and about whether control should be exercised by local education authorities or the Ministry of Labour, and so on.
It is important to stop this controversy now; and to accept the fact that many 131 local education authorities are handling this service extremely well in combination with the Ministry of Labour. Let us leave things alone for a while in order to see what a good job the Ministry of Labour can make of this Service now that it has had the stimulus of two days of debate in this House and the hard work of the Albemarle Working Party.
I believe in the value of the Youth Employment Service external to but cooperating closely with the schools. The reasons for this view are touched on in paragraph 22 of the Report, to which I would draw attention. We should also bear in mind paragraph 21, where the rather unfortunate statement is made by, it seems, a schoolmasters' organisation:The Careers Master is in fact an amateur on careers but professional on boys, the Y.E.O. vice versa.That statement seems to indicate that the youth employment officer should be an amateur at looking after boys—and, presumably, girls. This view is quite wrong, and I am sorry that the Albemarle Working Party repeats it, and does not seem to have qualified it at all.
I do not think that the Trades Union Congress has been exactly forthcoming in putting forward brilliant suggestions. We know, as is stated in paragraph 32:The T.U.C. has long been concerned about the problems affecting young people in the tranisition from school to working life. … They are compelled to question, however, the Advisory Council's recommendation even in the tentative and carefully qualified form in which it is advanced. … They are opposed in principle to any"—and I emphasise the word "any"—form of employment of children of school age.One can understand what was in the minds of the members of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, as veteran trade unionists, but if many children are to avoid going into the wrong sort of occupation for their own aptitudes they must have some form of work experience. This will be particularly true when the school-leaving age is raised to 16.
The T.U.C. should be asked to think again, and join with the Ministry of Labour considering whether this work experience can be put on a basis satisfactory to trade unionists in order to remove their fears, because time and 132 again in my experience in industrial medicine I have found a great need for safety training before a youngster enters his factory environment or whatever his work environment is to be.
The Ministry will know that again and again it happens that a youngster arrives to work on his first day and within his first hours of work he has a serious injury—he loses a finger, or he may lose an eye. We know that this occurs. The statistics of these accidents to young people do not yet exist in the Ministry but I believe that figures are now being collected there. It is most important that safety training should be started before the youngster arrives at his job. That can be done only by some method of combining work experience with safety training and, possibly, industrial health training, before the boy goes to his first job.
Time does not permit me to mention the many other points I should like to deal with, so I will only say that the country's manpower needs are very important at the moment, and are likely, for obvious reasons, to be increasingly important in the coming years. We should be asking ourselves today not "Does this country want a career advisory service developed along the lines of the Albermarle Report?", but "Can the country afford to do without a trained, well-staffed, comprehensive Youth Employment Service, by whatever name it is called?". Let us hope for legislation soon in the scheme of priorities of the present Government.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Eton and Slough)
This Report deals with what is perhaps the weakest link in the whole of our social chain. It deals with the provisions made for children as they pass from school into the world of employment outside. If we fail at that point we lay up terrible trouble for ourselves—trouble, at the lowest, economically, because we produce inefficient workpeople but, much more serious, we produce many young people who never settle down satisfactorily into any job, who make their own lives a misery and who seriously damage the whole of our social fabric.
I suggest that we are failing at this point. We are failing not only in the limited field of finding suitable jobs for 133 young people as they leave school, but we are also failing much more gravely in the arrangements which we make for keeping an eye on these young people once they have taken up their first jobs. I am thinking particularly of the young people who come within the purview of the Youth Employment Service, who by and large, as statistics quoted by hon. Members show, are the children with whom the Newsom Report was primarily concerned. We are failing because the Youth Employment Service is not adequate for the job which it has to do. That, of course, is what the present Report is concerned with.
Like practically every hon. Member who has spoken from either side of the House, I, too, am disappointed by this Report, from which many of us expected great things. To be perfectly fair, to some extent the terms of reference given to the Working Party limited it in that it was made impossible for the Working Party to consider the Youth Employment Service in a wider context. This is a point to which I shall return later. Throughout the Report there is lacking the sense of desperate urgency and the need for really radical change which I am convinced is necessary.
A number of hon. Members referred to some of the experiments which have been carried out over the past years in Slough. Slough is pre-eminent in a number of ways in the field of industrial welfare. It has a number of advantages, quite apart from the first-class sausage rolls to be obtained at Slough railway station, which I strongly recommend to any hon. Member who has to change trains there. We have also had, perhaps more by accident than anything else, in the person of Dr. Herford, a man who has held for a long time simultaneously the post of appointed factory doctor and also a post in the school medical service, who conceived his function as the appointed factory doctor to be especially that of keeping an eye on new young entrants into industry. By working very closely with the youth employment officer and by a systematic co-operation with the careers masters in certain schools we had in Slough for a certain period a more or less unified service to youth in this period between the beginning of their last year at school and the first couple of years in their new jobs.
134 The key element in this was the fact that the appointed factory doctor had the statutory obligation to see new young entrants into industry at regular intervals. They were bound to see him. He kept records. These records were available and could be used in assessing whether a young man was in the right job, whether he had the right approach to it, whether there was some physical or mental defect which made it difficult for him to settle down in the job.
This scheme, which could have been used as a pilot scheme for the whole of the country, is in danger of foundering—in fact, it probably has already foundered—through lack of local support, but also due to the fact that, as I understand it, the Ministry intends to change the whole structure of the appointed factory doctor service. If this happens, this particularly useful function will be swept away in the case of Slough.
It is not necessarily the fact that there is such a thing as the appointed factory doctor which enables this kind of experiment to be carried out. To quote from Dr. Herford, the appointed factory doctor is rather like the chub in Isaak Walton's recipe. He produced a splendid recipe on how to make the chub delicious. He said, "In the opinion of many, the dish is improved by the omission of the chub." As Dr. Herford himself said, it is merely because the appointed factory doctor has this statutory right to interview these young people at regular intervals that he can provide the essential link in the chain.
I do not insist that any kind of pilot scheme which there may be for grouping all the various services which are needed for the welfare of young people should necessarily be based on the appointed factory doctor. It could be based in the careers master at a school, or on the school medical service, or what you will. But an essential element in all this is that there should be some kind of duplication, some joint appointment, a joint appointment to the factory service and the school medical service, a joint appointment to the careers master and the youth employment officer, or the probation service can be brought into this arrangement in some way or other. There is great value in baying overlapping, in having people doing two jobs or interchangeable jobs. There is special value in having joint training.
135 Like earlier speakers I am disappointed that in the Report where there is mention of the possibility of joint training at technical colleges and universities, there is no mention of the possibility of joint training of youth employment officers in teacher training colleges. This is surely the key point at which there should be interchangeability if this is in any way obtainable. My personal view—this is going rather beyond the bounds of the Report—is that we ought to be working towards a unified service for young people from their last year at school up to the age of 21 or when they have been two or three years in a job. We shall have to come to this in the end. Whether this is to be under the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Labour I have no decided views. I have listened to the champions of both sides and I have been entirely convinced by both.
Whichever it is to be, there is surely value in running a limited pilot scheme based on a unified approach to see where the main emphasis of the scheme ought to be, whether it should be more on the educational side or on the training and labour sides. I hope that nowhere in the Report is there lurking a demarcation dispute between the Ministry of Labour and the Department of Education and Science. It is very difficult to rid oneself of the feeling that if there were more perfect understanding between these two great Departments of State we would long before now have had a more comprehensive approach to these problems which require tackling on a comprehensive basis. There is only one other point I wish to make. Again, like previous speakers, I have been very disappointed to find the Report shying away from the idea of work experience. The suggestion is made in the Report:We are agreed on the value of this where it means that young people are given opportunities within their school or a further education establishment of working under conditions which have been contrived … to correspond as nearly as possible to those of an industrial or commercial undertaking.This simply is not good enough. What is wanted is to give these young people an opportunity of "putting a toe in the water", of experiencing what conditions are like at work, what the noise is like, perhaps what the language is like.
The headmaster of a school for educationally subnormal children in Slough has 136 begged me to see if we cannot get a change of attitude on this. If subnormal children go straight from school to employment there is a very abrupt change and often it is too much for them. It would be of immense value if they could have half a day a week, or one day a month, actually working in the sort of place in which later they might find employment.
I am more than ever unconvinced by the stale arguments of the trade unions. They seem still hag-ridden by the idea that Lord Shaftesbury is still alive and that they must do all they can to stop boys being sent up smoky chimneys. Teachers genuinely want to give children an opportunity for easing themselves gradually into the very strange and often hostile world into which they will have to go.
I am convinced that in a great many cases in which young new entrants to industry go astray, fail to settle down or change their jobs far too frequently, this has been due to the abruptness which they have gone from the sheltered life of school to the far from sheltered life which awaits them in factory or the office. The Report certainly contains a number of sensible and valuable suggestions, but I hope that when the Minister takes action on it and in due course produces legislation he will not consider himself in any way bound by the rather timid recommendations it offers. The Youth Employment Service needs a bolder, broader and more fundamental approach to the problem than is anywhere apparent in the present Report.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
Speaking from the Liberal Bench, I associate myself with the remarks made on both sides of the House in welcoming the Report and also in congratulating Lady Albemarle and her colleagues on the work done in producing it. However, I also agree with a great many of the criticisms levelled at the Report for its excessive caution and occasionally almost timidity. A great deal of ground has been already covered in the debate and I do not wish to cover the same ground. I prefer to concentrate on a few specific matters rather than to endeavour to cover the whole field, about which, incidentally, there appears to be a pleasing degree of agreement on both sides of the House which is not often found.
137 I found the contribution by the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) of particular interest in the scope it endeavoured to cover. It would appear that the Report seems almost to go out of its way to avoid making any suggestions which would appear to involve amending the 1948 Act. This tendency appears on one or two occasions where the Report shirks actually suggesting that a particular change need necessarily be undertaken at this specific moment. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) has drawn attention to this, but I wish to re-emphasise the question and compulsory school reports on those for whom they are still not required by law.
In paragraph 46 the Report admits this, but it goes on to say:We considered whether the regulations should now be extended to cover all leaders but we decided that the time for this had not yet come.The Report proceeds and does not give any reasons why the time has not come, although later it emphasises quite properly that reports of this kind are vital for the youth employment officer to do his job properly. I know that sometimes amendment is a rather clumsy method of tackling this question, but if amendment were occasionally necessary, as in the further case—I repeat what the hon. Member for Stepney said—in respect of the degree of information which employers ought to be obliged, to use the word used by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers), to supply about jobs, I believe that this sort of emendation ought to be undertaken with all speed.
I wish to speak primarily about the question of staffing and staff training, on which the Minister laid such emphasis in his speech. The whole question of status was not given a proper degree of attention in the Report. The right hon. Member for Grantham spent some time talking about case-loads for officers. We find that the view of the youth employment officers is that 500 cases per officer is still very high. This was agreed by the hon. Member for Stepney, but not alone for the reasons put by the right hon. Member for Grantham. It is partly because of the turnover which has been mentioned by several hon. Members where a single youth officer has not only to deal with a large number himself, but 138 has also to carry the load of several inexperienced colleagues. Recruitment is clearly of vital importance.
It has been emphasised that there have been no specific proposals in regard to the stabilisation of salaries. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) made a considerable point of this. The comparative position of the local education authority youth officer and the Ministry of Labour youth officer is also a matter which it appears the Report has shirked and has failed to come down on one side or the other. This is particularly surprising when one notices that it quite properly emphasised that the local education authority youth officer ought to have at least a year's training as for example, in Lamorby or Manchester.
Yet almost in the same breath it appears to accept that a Ministry of Labour youth officer requires only a three-month course. This does not appear to be a very proper consideration. To put it rather crudely, the Ministry of Labour youth employment officer is almost a grade or a stage in advancement, whereas for the local education authority youth officer it is a vocation.
The vocationists are almost militated against, because it appears that the Working Party does not think that the same qualifications and standards are necessary for those in the Ministry of Labour and also in the case where 1,279 local education authority youth employment officers are represented by one member on the central inspection committee whereas the 214 Ministry of Labour officers are represented by six members. This seems to show a bias against the local education authority officers which is not desirable or proper.
The Report goes on to talk about the "built-in tension". Paragraph 241 includes these words:Indeed the existence of two systems, one closely allied to the field of education and the other more closely connected to the adult world of employment, acts to some extent as a mutual stimulus. In the words of one of those who gave evidence to us 'the built in tension (between the two systems) may be important to preserve'.If one of two systems which are endeavouring to do the same thing is over-closely allied to education and the other is over-closely allied to the adult world of employment, can either do the 139 job it sets out to do as adequately as the Report suggests? What is meant by the vague expression "built in tension"?
The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport spoke at some length about the problem of the handicapped and the difficulties facing youth employment officers because of the absence, especially in rural areas, of sufficient facilities for training the handicapped. This matter should have been given greater attention.
It was almost bounden upon the Working Party to give some indication of whether it felt that the future of this Service lay? with the Department of Education and Science or with the Ministry of Labour. The Working Party should have expressed some preference. My own preference is for the Department of Education. I do not agree with the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport on this aspect.
I am very much in agreement with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt). When the House of Commons finds it difficult to come to a decision, it is too often in the habit of leaving it to a committee to make the decision for it. However, when the committee does not make a decision the ball is back in our court. Some rather firmer statement is to be expected from the Government spokesman when he winds up.
I support the remarks made by the hon. Member for Bromley about the absurd situation in Scotland, where apparently marriage renders the service to be given by a woman officer ineffective, and she must immediately hand in her resignation. I think that it was the right hon. Member for Grantham—
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to say whether, when he refers to "the right hon. Member for Grantham", he is referring to the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), or to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), because it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East who led for the Conservatives this afternoon? From the hon. Gentleman's speech I have not gathered who he means by "the right hon. Member for Grantham".
§ Mr. Johnston
Quite clearly, the hon. Member knows the constituencies of his hon. Friends better than I do. I was referring to the Opposition spokesman, who, I think, was referred to earlier by other hon. Members as "the right hon. Member for Grantham". I may be wrong about that. I apologise to the House. As I was saying, the right hon. Member who led for the Opposition referred to the Report as "a tapestry". This is probably a very apt description, because, although it is full of sane and sensible information and although it pulls together a very great deal of what youth employment officers have been asking for for a long time, it lacks the punch and the bite of a definitely asserted priority scale.
I should like the Government spokesman to answer the following questions. First, what is his attitude to the scale of increased expenditure which will be necessary on this service and at what rate does he expect that it is likely to increase? Secondly, do the Government visualise the Youth Employment Service widening its rôle in the way that the Opposition Front Bench spokesman, to give him his correct title, mentioned in the early part of his speech? I agree to a great extent with the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the service will inevitably extend its rôle into the adult sphere, but the Report does not deal with this aspect. Are the Government prepared to take any action now to raise the age to 21?
Thirdly, how do the Government see the relationship between the Department of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labour developing in this sphere? Last, but not least, will the Government state their views on the whole question of status? One of the protagonists of the concept of handing this matter entirely over to the Ministry of Labour once asked me whether it was not a good thing that there was a turnover of youth employment officers; they were not youth employment officers all their lives; they went on upwards into the higher scale and this was a good thing. The people working for local authorities who tended to enter this sort of thing vocationally could not look forward to some sort of advancement and consequently this tended to affect the quality of entrants.
141 This is very important and, again, it is one of the criticisms which one can make of the Albemarle Report that there is insufficient emphasis in it on status.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. William Wilson (Coventry, South)
I should like to follow up the reference made earlier in the debate to the demarcation made between the Ministry of Labour and the Youth Employment Service. It seems to me that there is confusion in the minds of the general public between the two. The old idea that a labour exchange was a place where a job was found for a man who was out of work has been carried forward into the Youth Employment Service and instead of its being realised by the general public that the service is there to find a position fitted to a child's aptitude it is often looked upon as a service for finding a job for a lad or a girl.
The more employment there is the greater is the need for the Youth Employment Service, and the more important it is that there should be accurate selection and that good advice and help should be given. A lad or a girl who is settled in a job suited to his or her aptitude is a lad or girl who is not likely to be a delinquent or to become a tear-away. Too often those of us who spend time in the courts see lads and girls come before the court who have had a multiplicity of jobs. As a practising lawyer, I seize upon it as a great point when I am able to tell the court that a certain lad or girl has had only one job since he or she left school. It speaks almost as a recommendation for the child.
It is, therefore, important that the Youth Employment Service and the powers and knowledge which it has within it should be made more and more known to the general public. It is obvious that this Service is likely to be needed more and more in future. Perhaps the work of the Service comes most significantly before the general public at careers festivals and occasions of that kind, but it is true that the young folk who attend these careers festivals are often those who are not in most need of help and guidance and it is to those who are likely to drift into blind-alley jobs or to go from job to job that the Service must give attention.
Another point which I should like to make relates to the staffing of areas in 142 the West Midlands, such as my constituency. In Coventry, as in other parts of the West Midlands, there is a continually increasing school population. This means that when we approach the 1970s the need for an expanded Youth Employment Service will be apparent to all, but the time to prepare for that is now. It is no use waiting until the children are leaving school and then seeking to expand the Service in areas like the constituency which I represent. If we do not attend to this now, the case load will grow.
Only yesterday I had referred to me the instance of a youth employment officer, not in my constituency, who mentioned that he had 24 children coming to see him in one day. I could not help but think that his interviews with those children must have been something like the Army eyesight examination when eyes were counted and were not examined and that all that would have been achieved at the end of the day was that the youth employment officer would be a very tired man. We should recognise that in the present phase of the Youth Employment Service it has a tremendous task to perform. It must be apparent to all of us that an expanded Service is absolutely necessary if we are to utilise the abilities and aptitudes of all the children who will need the help of that Service in the next five or 10 years.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
At the end of his opening speech, the Minister of Labour invited suggestions for possible future legislation. He will have had quite a few most valuable suggestions out of the debate already, but one heartening factor which has emerged is that possible future legislation will give the House an opportunity to discuss even further the provision of a counselling service, vocational service, guidance service—call it what one likes.
I am not quite sure whether to begin by criticising the Minister for the apparent lack of urgency behind his speech or by criticising the Report for failing to grasp the nettle of the problem. The Minister made the reluctance of his approach to a careers advisory service very clear. I wonder how many of the 1,560 youth employment officers—the right hon. Gentleman announced that, at 31st December last, the number had risen to 1,560—are trained and qualified, 143 whether the proportion of those still in service untrained is roughly the same, and how many have been employed by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education.
The reluctance of the Report to deal with the real problem in the Youth Employment Service was admirably illustrated by the metaphors used by the two Front Bench speakers. The Minister described the Report as giving valuable guide-lines, without saying where they were guiding us to, as being a useful springboard to action, without saying whether the springboard was leading us over the deep end or not, and as a comprehensive survey. Not to be outdone, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) talked about reading its tapestry. If the two Front Bench speakers could get themselves so mixed up metaphorically when speaking about the Report and trying to describe it, poor back benchers could hardly be expected to improve upon their performance.
The Report is, in fact, a statement of the position, a statement of inexorable facts, but it fails to develop the logic of its own findings. I am disappointed that it fails to define the main issues facing the Youth Employment Service in the present educational, social and industrial context, according to its terms of reference. I accept that no country has solved entirely the problem of vocational guidance, but the United Kingdom lags far behind most other nations in the provision of current selling facilities. We have our Youth Employment Service, but its haphazard development and its lack of uniformity, varying not only from place to place but also in the Ministry of Labour's own variety of it, is exposed by the Report.
This development has been caused by the circumstances and course of its growth, constituted as it was in 1948, with some education authorities taking on their responsibilities but usually leaving the awkward parts of the country to the Ministry of Labour—rural East Anglia, parts of the North-East, and parts of the South-West as well, generally the "awkward squad"—and at a time of general scarcity, when suitable, attractive or central premises were hard to come by. It was staffed, as it had to be, 144 from scratch, by men and women who had no previous experience or qualifications and who had no training for the specialised job which had to be encompassed.
It is an enormous tribute to the devotion and effort of those men and women that the Service is as good as it is, but one notes from paragraph 155 of the Report that, 20 years later, untrained staff still continue to be appointed. This seems to me to be quite inexcusable in a sophisticated and affluent society such as ours. Therefore, I give qualified support to recommendation No. 27, and will explain why in a minute.
My reaction to the Report in general is one of modified rapture. Nevertheless, I welcome it. In this country we owe a fantastic debt to the men and women who serve on all sorts of committees and make reports to us, and I am sure that the country is the better for this. I am grateful to them for their competence and the thoroughness with which they have gone into the problems. But the Youth Employment Service as we know it is almost a national paradox. The duality of control has been mentioned. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Kilfedder) mentioned—I think the Report does not—the part played by the Ministry of Pensions. If one man cannot serve two masters, I fail to see how one service can serve three Ministries. It is odd that the Report does not comment on the psychological undesirability of an officer who is responsible for a young person's first employment also being associated in that young person's mind with his unemployment. This is unfortunate. Again and again, the Report comments on the divisions in the Service, but without drawing conclusions.
Paragraph 241 summarises the dual system of administration and comments that it apparently does not affect the development of the Service. If one accepts the present state of the Service as being ideally designed to meet the national requirements, that is probably correct, but in paragraph 167 the Report reveals the essential dichotomy of the two halves of the Service. Even in that part of the Service coming within the scope of the Ministry of Education the position is very clearly unsatisfactory.
In paragraph 156—it refers to local authorities "testing the market" with 145 varying salary scales—the Committee says that constant movement of officers is not a bad thing, although—this shows the illogicality—throughout the early part of the Report it has illustrated the need for continuity. The youth employment officer has to win the confidence not only of the children but of the parents and has to know the employment prospects of the locality in depth and thoroughly, and all these factors can be secured only by continuity.
Elsewhere the Report loses its logic. In paragraph 188 it recommends that groups of local authorities should supply supernumerary staff. That was welcomed by the right hon. Gentleman, and it is an admirable idea, but four paragraphs before that the Report makes it clear that there are too few recruits coming into the Service to meet the needs at the moment and fill the existing places. Paragraph 155 comments on the number of untrained people being appointed and the undesirability of their appointment. If there are too few recruits coming into the Service, one wonders how local authorities are to find the supernumeraries and what sort of advice will be given to school leavers. I should have thought that the euphemistically called "mobility" within the Service must be undesirable for the sounder reasons given in the earlier parts of the Report. Paragraph 188 shows the unhealthy state of affairs.
It is easy to be critical and destructive, because we have not really considered what the Youth Employment Service ought to be or what we want it to be. Hon. Members have suggested that what is required is uniformity of training, service and control. I offer the House my personal view of what we need for our school leavers if our educational effort and expenditure is to be fully realised and our industrial requirement is to be satisfied and met.
First, what sort of Service ought we to have? I believe that vocational guidance—that is my pet term for it; several others have been used in the debate—should be a slow and gradual process extending over several years. It ought not to be something that happens in the last year. It should be at least two years in duration. It ought to keep pace with the youngsters developing maturity and with that same young person's developing 146 strength and weaknesses, his interests and tastes, because these are important, too. The need is for continuity starting with vocational orientation well before leaving school and available with counselling through the latter years of training in employment. Involved in such provision would be teachers, youth employment officers, social workers and occupational psychologists. It may be argued that such a service already exists. So it does, but in a very rudimentary form and not uniformly available all over the country.
The Report comments that the quality of guidance which a young person receives must depend on the satisfactory relationship between youth employment officer and the members of school staffs concerned with the young person's work. In the past we have not paid sufficient attention to the careers staff of our schools. There is evidence, too, that schools have in the past become absorbed in a rather too academic view of their task. The Times Bulletin for Industry and Technology dealt with the problem of the Youth Employment Service in an article in which the author wrote:As a result of it shortcomings, the Youth Employment Service is not taken too seriously in many schools, and it is often regarded with a certain amount of hostility by school leavers. Certainly, with younger school leavers, the Y.E.O.'s activities are limited to a large extent by the requirements of firms in the area. There is ample evidence from both employers and youth employment officers to suggest that a large number of our schools are failing both to guide children towards a range of employment commensurate with their aptitudes and abilities and to prepare them adequately for life beyond school.It goes on in very much the same vein. The Newsom Report got down to the nub of the matter in Chapter 14, using the phrase that leaving school… should be seen and talked about positively as going to work, not negatively as leaving school.The sad thing is that the Newsom Report was written a year before the article in The Times Bulletin.
All this raises the problem of career staffing in schools, because while school staff cannot take the place of youth employment officers they need special knowledge. They need to know of a child's ability, aptitudes, prospects and weaknesses. They need to know his home background, his psychology, his occupational psychology and his medical history. 147 They ought to make and should be able to have made a special study in certain occupational requirements and demands.
In a small school one member of the staff might compass all these requirements. But in our larger educational units this would be impossible. Therefore, in the large comprehensive schools we shall have to have a counselling staff. Each school will need a school counsellor knowing intimately the child for whom he is responsible and who will have the responsibility of planning and co-ordinating an adaptable educational programme focused on the prospects of the child.
This applies equally to grammar and secondary modern schools, except that in the case of grammar school children the choice of subjects frequently has to be made early since those subjects decisively influence the opportunities open to the children. In the case of comprehensive schools, it is of great importance because the choice of courses is very rich and somewhat bewildering. Hence the importance of a counselling staff.
As the schools develop a greater variety of courses, it becomes increasingly vital to recognise the importance of a careers staff with specialised responsibility within Chapter 14 of Newsom. I think also that a vocational guidance counsellor based outside the schools and serving a group of schools would begin his interviews fortified by consultation with and co-operation from school counselling staff and by the information and assessments made available to him.
The vocational guidance counsellor will in turn from time to time need advice from one more experienced than he. Therefore, I suggest that every local authority should have a vocational guidance adviser to act as a consultant in cases presenting special difficulties—for instance, through physical handicap or psychiatric difficulty. He will be a specialist indeed.
He must have a deep understanding of developmental psychology, with special knowledge of the problems of adolescence and of the evaluation of psychometric assessments. He will need knowledge of economic and social factors affecting young people and will need to understand job analysis and to evaluate psychological and physical requirements 148 of different occupations. He must be up to date on economic and social developments of a changing technology. He must also know the long-term and short-term trends of the labour market and of trade union policies. He will need an understanding of the dynamics of human relationships as they occur in large and small organisations. He will, indeed, be a specialist.
All this leads to the conclusion that a comprehensive guidance and counselling service of this nature would, of course, undoubtedly include consultation prior to entry upon courses of advanced technical and non-academic training or university study. This is accepted and suggested by the Report. But the Report expects existing youth employment officers to accomplish near miracles without drastic reorganisation of the Service. I do not, however, believe that any man would be able to perform all the tasks expected in the first half of the Report without ending up in alabaster in Westminster Abbey.
I do not believe that the Service will be capable of such work on its present structure. It should be redefined. It should be a separate and identifiable profession with its own status and visible ladder of promotion and advance to specialised skills. Unless there is an integrated and comprehensive guidance and counselling service, operating partly within the schools and partly without the schools, on a permanent and recognised basis, we shall not succeed in bridging the canyon which exists between the more sheltered days of school and the rather bewildering and puzzling days of work—a bridging which our young people have a right to expect from this country.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Weatherill (Croydon, North-East)
The problem of being called at this late hour in a debate is that all one's points have already been admirably put. At this late stage I want to deal with two matters; first, with the training of youth employment officers. I am bound to say that I found the Working Party's Report on that particular aspect somewhat confusing. In 1951, the Piercy Committee recommended that all youth employment officers should have a period of training 149 not shorter than a full year. The Working Party supports that, and the Minister told us this afternoon that he also supports it. I find it inexplicable that the Minister should feel that three months' training is sufficient for youth employment officers in areas where the Ministry itself runs the Service, and I should like to know why that is so. Perhaps the Minister can tell us in his winding up speech.
The local education authorities cover 85 per cent. of the country at the moment. Are we to assume, therefore, that in the areas covered by the Ministry the Service is to be carried out not by second-class officers but certainly by second-class-trained officers?
We have heard the expression "a fully professional service" mentioned pretty well in every speech today. If the Working Party really looks forward to a fully professional service and wishes to fortify the Piercy recommendation on training, would not the Minister agree that it is much more likely to be achieved if he makes it mandatory on all local education authorities to operate the service?
The second point that I wish to make is on the matter of joint training. I was interested in what the Working Party had to say about training alongside teachers and others. The Newsom Report thought that that should be explored. If we are to have more youth employment officers, we shall obviously need more training places, and some of those will be provided in Kent, in Manchester and in the new centre that the Minister mentioned today. I wonder if we should not also look at joint training not only for youth employment officers but also for careers teachers as well. I should like to see the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Education and the Youth Employment Service Training Board consider the establishment of joint training in colleges of education leading, perhaps, to a bachelor of education degree.
Are there not some new entrants into training colleges at 18 or 19 who would be interested in careers work or perhaps in being youth employment officers later in their careers? If we were to have joint training of that length and content it would equip these young people to cross over later on in their careers, should 150 they so wish. My own local education authority in Croydon submitted such a plan about a year ago. Unhappily, it was not accepted by the Minister of Education, and I would ask now whether it would be possible for the Minister to reconsider that in the light of what has been said today.
Finally, on the question of salaries, the Minister has said that the two priorities are staffing and staff training. But we shall bury our heads in the sand if we feel that they can be divorced from a professional salary scale. Surely it is one of the major problems which face the Youth Employment Service. It is a fact that over half the youth employment officers in the country are receiving a basic salary which is less than that of a qualified and trained teacher. With his responsibilities and with the content of his work, surely the basic-grade youth employment officer should be on a salary scale no less favourable than that of the basic-grade teacher. So, while I welcome what the Minister said about going to the local authorities to discuss staffing, I would ask him at the same time to discuss the question of salaries as well.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
I am sure that the whole House feels that we have had an extremely valuable discussion this afternoon and evening, and that this entirely justifies the decision that on our first day back after the Recess we should devote a considerable amount of time to this very important Report.
It must be said frankly by any observer or listener to our discussions that the welcome given by the House to the Report has been decidely muted. As every hon. Member who has spoken has been at pains to make clear, and as I, too, aim to make clear, this reflects not one bit on the distinguished lady who was the chairman of this Working Party, or indeed, on its very hard-working members.
In various ways my hon. Friends the Members for Belfast, West (Mr. Kilfedder), and Bromley (Mr. Hunt), the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), who had a number of reservations to express, and my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Dr. Wyndham Davies), and 151 Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer) all expressed disappointment at what had emerged from the Report, while my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell) described her reaction as modified rapture. I was not entirely clear what state that left her in, but this is something which I shall expect to pursue with her a little further on another appropriate occasion,
The Times Educational Supplement described the Report as "speaking with a weak voice". It may be that the House would not wish to go quite that far, but it is perhaps right, and indeed is, in a way, an expression of the interest which this subject now arouses in so many people, that this decided feeling of anti-climax has been expressed this afternoon.
I am glad that so many of my hon. Friends have been enabled to take part in this debate. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Weatherill), who was kind enough to cut his time so short. Only one of my hon. Friends, who, I hope, remains a friend, has been unable to take part in this debate.
I hope very much that the Minister of State, who is to reply, will be able to remove a feeling which has been expressed that in the Minister's speech there was not quite the sense of urgency in responding to the Report which the House would have welcomed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) put a number of questions to the Government Front Bench. He asked about salaries and status, the division between the Ministries, and so on. He asked specifically for information about the size of the proposed training college, and I hope that when the Minister replies he will deal with these matters in some detail and be specific.
The Minister started—and I should like to make this my starting point—by emphasising the essential partnership in the whole of this matter between education and labour. The Youth Employment Service, in its widest sense—the placing of young people in appropriate careers and jobs—is essentially a partnership between the two, hence the welcome presence of the Minister of State from the 152 Department of Education and Science to wind up the debate.
I say that because, by the very nature of partnerships of this kind, a great deal will depend on the influence brought to bear in the respective Ministeries by the Ministers for the time being. If they constantly emphasise and give a good lead in this respect, I have no doubt that this will percolate down, even though they are the heads of great administrative machines. This was done by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), when he was the Minister for this Department.
Speaking to the Institute of Youth Employment Officers on 20th April, 1963—a considerable time ago—he put it in this way:The world at work and the world of education are not two spheres revolving in distant orbits from each other. They are closely related areas of activity reacting and making an impact one on the other.That was true then; it is true today, as the Minister has said—and it must constantly be reiterated.
The youth employment officer, therefore, is not concerned solely with employers or with jobs in his area; he is not concerned solely, and in detail, with the opportunities for employment. He also usually has a knowledge of the courses at technical colleges and colleges of further education. Above all, he has a detailed and intimate knowledge of the schools themselves, for it is on this personal relationship, which is reiterated several times in the Report, that the success or failure of the individual officer will often depend. Where the relationship is good—where there is no local pull, or tension, to use the word in the Report—young people get a coherent view of the important transition from whole-time education to whole-time work.
That brings with it considerable strains within the school, and I want to deal with this question particularly because it concerns the Department of Education and Science. The House is agreed on the value of a planned and coordinated activity by a designated member of the staff, working as a careers master or mistress or sometimes as both. In some cases there will be designated members of staffs.
The planned programmes of factory visits, the careers booklets which are 153 coming out in increasing numbers—and I pay tribute to the way in which they are produced and presented—the planned visits of speakers, and specific work projects involving local industry, can and do play an immensely important part in school life. But these are very much more valuable if they are planned in consultation with youth employment officers and are not exclusively school matters. Here I come again to the all-important personal relationships between the youth employment officer and the school that he is advising.
But, on the school side, all this has to be done by teachers within the existing framework of their schools. I do not know whether the Minister of State agrees with me, but when I visit a school and want to get a first-hand feel of that school, I find that the best thing I can do is to look at the notice board. The notice board is the best quick guide to the activities and life of a school. A dull school—a school with a lack of life in it—will have an almost empty notice board or one consisting largely of formal notices, while one which is throbbing with activity will have so many notices that room can hardly be found for all of them. Many will be references to careers advice, and the rest.
However, for that reason, in a good school, existing members of staff are already burdened with many out of school activities. The keen young man who runs the canoe club, the earnest lady who most valuably organises play reading in French, are responsible for examples of the vast variety of out-of-school activities which represent one of the great glories of our present educational system.
To this, this House is asking that we add a greater professionalism in careers work in schools. I have only to point out, for example, the increasing amount of literature which has to be read if the careers master is to keep up to date with what is available for this to be apparent. This is particularly so if, in response to points made so wisely in this debate, the careers master or mistress has increasingly to take a far more positive rôle. He or she is not just the person to whom the child goes on his own initiative, but the person who must take the initiative to the child.
This happens already in good schools. We are concerned here with those schools 154 in which the standard is not as high and enthusiastic as we should like it to be. If I were choosing such a person, the quality above all others which I would look for is the ability to enjoy the confidence of young people. Young people starting to chart seas unknown to them will be afraid of inadvertently making fools of themselves. Someone who has a sympathetic understanding of young people and who can retain their confidence has probably the quality necessary for such a person.
However, I repeat that this must all be done on top of the existing curriculum and the existing out-of-chool activities which are the particular glory of an active school—which means by far the greater number of our schools. We must avoid the kind of provocative statement about schoolmasters and schoolmistresses which is certainly not made in this House, but which one hears from time to time voiced by the general public—"These people are only nine to four workers with a quarter of the year on holiday." Good teaching is one of the most demanding professions which any man or woman can undertake. It requires constant bringing up to date and revision and those who undertake it give an enormous amount of themselves in the process.
We are asking these men and women who—by definition, if they are chosen right—will tend to be the leaders of their profession to do yet more. I have no doubt that they will, but this House should show that it has an understanding of what we are asking them to do. I was interested in the suggestion made—it would not be fair to ask the Minister of State to comment on it at short notice—in The Times Educational Supplement of 17th December, that careers offices should be established in schools. This point was made during the debate. Obviously, if this were done, it would present difficulties in placing the whole Service under the Ministry of Labour, if we were to follow the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers).
If I have carried the House with me so far, I hope that hon. Members will agree that this will be all the more important if we want to extend the Service in some of the directions outlined in the Report, but the strains will not be only on the schools. For example, there is an examination in 155 the Report of the problem of case loads. This is dealt with in paragraphs 202 to 217.
In paragraph 212 the problem of the case load on the youth employment officer is examined and the conclusion is reached that an increasing proportion of these officers are occupied in helping schools as distinct from individual boys and girls. This conclusion is reached:We are, therefore, of the opinion that one of the issues now facing the Service is the need to devise a new approach to the assessment of staffing needs.That point was developed by my hon. Friends. It goes on:A predominantly numerical approach, largely based on 'counting heads', may have served well enough in the past, but it seems to us that a more sophisticated approach would be better suited to the new demands which are likely to be made on the Service in the next few years.Appreciating what it is that the Report is advising us to do, within those limitations I hope that we shall be able to see some extension of the work in this age group of the youth employment officers.
I support the suggestion, first made by my right hon. Friend and mentioned by a number of hon. Members, that we should apply sampling techniques—using the statistically valid sample to the follow-up procedures—and that we should try to ascertain, with much greater accuracy than anything we possess now, just what is the effect of the Service, where it is making its greatest impact or where its weaknesses lie.
Personally, I would like to feel that the youth employment officers have the opportunity of making an impact on young people at the age of the first educational option. Education today, like so much of our life, is becoming increasingly complicated. One is sometimes appalled at the comparatively young age at which young people, little more than children, will make an educational decision—exercise their educational option—in such a way as to have a lasting effect on their subsequent lives. The choice of second language or the decision whether to follow an arts or science course are merely random examples. While I am sure that conscientious youth employment officers—those who are not overburdened with too heavy a case load—will attempt to make such an impact, this indicates 156 the further spheres which lie ahead of us if the Service is to be really effective.
The Report discusses, in paragraphs 42 to 48, the Service and schools and brings out the argument which rages as to whether youth employment officers should advise only those leaving school to go into jobs or whether they should advise those going on to higher forms of education. One of the most encouraging features of our present education system is the increasing numbers of young people who are taking up opportunities in higher education and the increasing growth of the technical college.
I am sure that this will become even more marked when we get our balance right from the university point of view. I hope that nothing I say will be taken to represent a criticism of the universities or certainly not a criticism of those who go to them. I am bound to say, however, that I sometimes have the feeling that we have got so mesmerised by the word "university" that there are some young men and women at them who would more profitably be engaged on a course at a technical college; but this may be put right as we recover our balance.
If that is so, increasing numbers of young people taking such courses will benefit by the help, advice and guidance of the youth employment officer. He will be able to help such young people to see the choice of course not as something in isolation, but as something that fits into a pattern, and as part of a coherent whole. It must be said that this will place increasing burdens on the Y.E.O., and if the age is raised to 21—as to which, I must confess, it would have been nice to have heard some more definite statement of Government policy —we must face it that this will add to the National Insurance burdens which have been mentioned earlier by my hon. Friends and others—although I quite see that the Report not only recognises that fact but would like to increase the secretarial assistance available to the Y.E.O. in that way.
I have discussed the Service and the youth employment officers and the Service and teachers, and I should now like to discuss the Service and parents. It will be generally agreed that one of the most refreshing changes in education—and it has happened in a comparatively short time, historically—is the complete and 157 revolutionary change in the outlook of so many parents towards education. Parents who, a very few years ago, in large numbers regarded children as an economic potential to be put to productive use at the earliest possible moment are now a minority, and a small minority at that. Increasingly, parents are taking, with their children, the opportunities offered to them with both hands for higher education and for extensive courses in the schools.
I believe that there are two reasons for this charge. The first is the unquestionable improvement in economic conditions over the years—the famous "13 wasted years" have played a very notable part here. The second is younger marriage, for the parent of today tends to be much closer to the educational service of his child because he himself has experienced it very much nearer than his father, and certainly his grandfather, tended to do. There is not, therefore, the same wide gulf.
This is exemplified by the fact that parent-teacher associations, and so on, show how the modern parent tends to be keenly interested in the education of the child. If anyone doubts that, though I do not think that he will, he will recall that one of the reasons for raising the school-leaving age in 1970, which is directly relevant to this Report, is that we are being "embarrassed" by the increasing numbers of young people who are voluntarily staying on at school when the law says that they may leave. As a result, there is an imbalance between different areas which cannot be allowed to continue for longer than is absolutely necessary.
But have parents shown generally the same enthusiasm for careers? I am very well aware that in talking about parents in this sense I am generalising about many tens of hundreds of people and, like all generalities, this generality can be shot down in detail. The reason I ask that question, and why it was clearly asked by the Working Party, is that there is evidence that we have not been able as much as we should like to capture the interest of parents in the Service.
I recently attended a careers exhibition. I only wish to heaven that something like that had been going in my own day, because I well recall my difficulty in 158 trying to make up my mind what to do, was essentially a D-stream boy; the nearest I have ever got to an All Souls' fellowship has been to sit next to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East. Frankly, I was only saved by the outbreak—and we all regret it—of the war, which settled the matter for all those of my age at the time.
There we had the potential, the possibility of questioning people in every form of activity of life. But, although the teachers and the children were there, the parents were not. I am very glad, therefore, that the Minister, recognising this fact in opening the debate, said that he would specifically place this matter before his central executive committee for advice. If the Minister of State has any more to tell us about that, I am sure it will be very well received.
I found the Committee's conclusions on this matter, though unexceptionable, very shadowy indeed and unsatisfactory on the whole. I believe that this will have to be done substantially by the schools, and the follow-up is one of the aspects of it which we would like to feel would result from the necessary research.
There were so many interesting and valuable points made in the debate that it clearly has not been possible to give more than a glance at them. I am sure that the whole House listened with the greatest interest to the penetrating speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough. I am sure, too, that hon. Members listened with regret and sadness to his account of the way in which, apparently, Dr. Herford's pilot scheme was foundering. Nevertheless, it has played a most valuable part in that area, as I can testify, and its lessons have been learned much more widely, as everyone will agree. It may possibly be that the lessons which have been learned and the papers that have been written will last longer than anyone would dare hope.
It has been suggested that we might see a basic social service qualification embracing youth work, industrial training and youth employment. A unified careers structure has been suggested. It is to be hoped that these may follow from changes yet to be made, and I am sure that careful note has been made of these suggestions.
I should like to make one small amplification of something which was said by 159 my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port, who, as the House knows, has made an extensive study of these matters. I understood her to say that employers should be obliged to notify changes of jobs. It was clear to me that my hon. Friend intended that this notification should be made to the Y.E.O. and not, as I think one or two people understood at the time, to other employers. This was perfectly clear to me, and I am sure it is a suggestion which the Minister will want to follow up.
I do not think any hon. Member, whatever his view of this Albemarle Report on the future development of the Youth Employment Service, will say that the subject is not of immense importance. It is important economically and socially. We spend vast sums of money—we do not begrudge it it is in an excellent cause—on our educational system, and, on any sort of basis, we have enormous tasks to perform in connection with that educational service. Therefore, we must ensure that our potential talent is used to the best advantage.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West said, a happy and contented person is much more likely, apart altogether from the social issues involved, to be a more productive person. But much more than that is involved. A young person starting work, going into a confusing and difficult world, can suffer great mental hardship and strain if he makes a false start. It has been the object of this Report—muted though the reception of it has been—and certainly of our subsequent discussion to make this introduction as useful and as productive as we can.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. R. E. Prentice)
Anyone who has heard all or most of this debate will agree that it has been a very good debate, a very constructive debate in which hon. Members on both sides of this House have clearly given a great deal of thought and study to the subject. It has expressed, almost universally, a sense of urgency and concern about the problems we are discussing today. I say frankly on behalf of my right hon. Friend and myself and my colleagues in the Government generally that we share every bit of urgency and 160 concern about this, and it is our policy to bring about an improvement in the Youth Employment Service as quickly as can possibly be done.
There have been a number of references to the Report, perhaps in two senses. There have been a very large number of tributes to the work done by Lady Albemarle and her Committee. I certainly echo those tributes and say that a great deal of work was done by them for which we are profoundly grateful. The Committee consisted of people many of whom are doing valuable work in many other fields. Lady Albemarle is known in connection with the Youth Service and many other public services.
There has also been an expression of disappointment that the Report has not gone far enough. On balance I think that kind of criticism a little unfair. In so far as there is dissatisfaction with the Service, in so far as it is felt that a great deal more needs to be done, that is something to be levelled at Governments past and present and this House as a whole. We should not confuse that with the job which has been done by the Committee. The Committee has provided us with an objective account of the present state of the Service, a description of its problems and a whole range of proposals for the work it has to do. The Committee has done that well and I would not detract from it for a moment. If there is criticism responsibility will rest for the past with hon. Members opposite, in the recent past and in the present and for many years to come, with us. We have to face this and to say how we propose to deal with the problems which are concerning us.
Before I come to the subject matter of the Report I say what one or two hon. Members have said today. If one looks to the recent past, particularly to the years in which the bulge in the school population was leaving school, we are bound to pay a very deep tribute to the work of the Youth Employment Service under difficult conditions during those years. The strength of the Service numerically and in its supporting staff and so on in the years 1960 and 1961 and 1962 was less than it is today and we are all agreed that it needs improvement on the present standards. They were dealing with very much larger numbers of school leavers, with heavy case-loads, 161 most of them working late into the night, particularly at those periods of the year when pressure is greatest. Hundreds of unsung heroes did a very great deal for the younger generation, particularly in difficult employment situations.
Looking to the future, it is essential that the country should commit itself to a growth in the strength of the Service in numerical strength, in training, supporting staff and research effort, for two clear reasons. One reason is that one of our greatest problems economically is shortage of manpower and in that situation we have to devote our means to the upgrading of our labour force. We must recognise that there are too many people throughout the country working below their ceiling. We must recognise that the working population of the future has to be on an average one of two pegs up the scale in terms of skill and responsibility as compared with the present. Only on that basis shall we get the economic growth to carry out all the programmes to which we are committed.
Secondly, and more importantly, there is the human reason for doing this. The fact is that we must take account of the period of adjustment which is necessary for people in their teens. They have a sense of being let down when they get to work, as compared with the expectations they may have had at school. In so many cases boys and girls at school are exhorted to do well and are encouraged in the various virtues which will help them subsequently. When they start work they have a feeling that they are being under-used. They are in a frustrating situation and they do not know how to get out of it. We must have a situation not only of full employment but of a choice of jobs, with adequate guidance and education for all the things we have been talking about.
The House will expect me to speak particularly on the educational aspects of the problem. Before doing so I want to reply to some of the points which have been raised—not to all of them, simply because of lack of time—affecting the responsibilities of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend has said that following this debate he will be doing two things in particular. He will issue very shortly guidance to local authorities about the staffing problems of the Service, including guidance on the expansion of 162 numbers and a great many other things which are dealt with in the Report and which have been referred to today. The letter which my right hon. Friend will be sending out will deal with some of the problems which have been raised concerning numbers, status, salaries and so on. He will be taking into account, as he said he would be, the views expressed in the debate.
Other matters, particularly salary matters and some of the points mentioned by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), such as car allowances, will probably not be dealt with in detail in the letter. They are proper matters for the negotiating machinery. They are not the sort of matters on which one could give a clear assurance at the Dispatch Box in a debate such as this. Clearly the negotiators will have in mind the text of the Report and the reception of the Report, both in the House and elsewhere.
Besides the letter of guidance on a whole range of other problems my right hon. Friend has said that he will be consulting local authorities on precisely what action should follow some of the recommendations of the Report and, indeed, some of the things in the Report on which there is not a clear recommendation but where the problem is raised for discussion. This affects particularly those parts of the Report dealing with possible legislation. My right hon. Friend will be discussing with the local authorities the shape that future legislation might take, the extent to which legislative changes are needed, the proper timing of changes, and so on.
This refers particularly to the question whether the range of the service should be extended from the age of 18 to some higher age, whether to 21 or to some other age. In his speech my right hon. Friend was not in any sense being unfriendly to this suggestion. We all want to see vocational guidance extended. My right hon. Friend put it in the context that he wants to see an extension of it in general and not only to that age group. He is already committed to the experiments he referred to in 11 areas to begin this March for the employment exchanges to offer a wider form of vocational guidance. That will be available to the age group we are concerned with and to others.
163 There are two possible ways forward. We must consider the proper relationship of the two. There is the extent to which the age range of the Youth Employment Service should go up and also the extent to which the employment exchanges in general should change their character. We all have in mind the objective of a much higher degree of vocational service for everyone. On the youth employment point, there is this difficulty which the House will want to face.
In so far as the Service as a whole is still under-staffed and under-trained we have to consider the priorities here and consider how quickly we should think in terms of raising the age from 18 to 21 thereby, of course, causing a large amount of extra work for the officers concerned. We have to consider also how that should be related in time to the desire to improve the Service which we are already giving to those who are under 18. My right hon. Friend is discussing with local authorities who are running the Service in most parts of the country the pros and cons of the approach to this question.
The second option—whether local authorities who do not run the Service themselves should have the right to do so —was something which was not recommended by the Albemarle Committee. It suggested that the time was not right for it. Some hon. Members have spoken in favour of this taking place now. My right hon. Friend has asked me to say that he has not a closed mind on this question. He will consider the point and the views of local authority associations on it. Meanwhile, whatever shape emerges here, I think that we are all agreed that policy in all these matters, both local and national, obviously concerns both the educational world and the world of the Ministry of Labour and the services connected with it.
I should like to assure the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer) that there is no demarcation dispute between our two Departments on this. Members of the Department of Education and Science and of the Scottish Education Department sit on the Central Youth Employment Executive as full members and share in its policy making. This is one example of the system of liaison both locally and nationally.
164 On the question of the notification of job interchanges by those under 18, there is no firm recommendation by the Albemarle Committee. The Committee said that its Working Party was divided on this point. As far as the Minister is concerned, this again is an option which he would like to consider and on which he would like to have the views of the local authorities, but I think that he is disposed to be rather against it at the moment. We would, of course, want to expand the Service and take initiatives but the Youth Employment Service is voluntary and for those who have left school and started work and have changed their jobs while they are still under 18 the Service is still available. We have to consider whether the work involved for employers and others in the compulsory notification of changes of jobs would be productive in the extra use of the Service. This is not clear at present and we feel that the matter needs further discussion. This perhaps is one of the many problems which may need to be considered in due course in relation to research.
The whole range of suggestions made in this debate, and certainly those made earlier by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East point to the fact that we have not had enough research in this field in the past. Therefore the suggestions made by the Albemarle Report and the way in which they have been received by the right hon. Member are valuable for the future. They overlap the need for research in youth employment and in education generally, where so much has been neglected in the past. The Manpower Research Unit of the Ministry of Labour is a new development which is beginning to work in a field where we need much more sophisticated techniques in the future to try to obtain answers to the problems which still baffle us.
The level of educational research in general in the past has been far too low. We have increased the programme recently and the Schools Council is sponsoring a great deal of research. Here again a great deal more needs to be done in the future and both these fields overlap the subject of our debate today.
My right hon. Friend was asked about the new training unit in the C.Y.E.E. I am informed that this will lead to a 60 per 165 cent. increase over existing training facilities within the units which are described in the Report.
As regards socially unsettled young people, my right hon. Friend accepts what the Report says about this aspect of the matter and about the need for youth employment officers to be able to get a second expert opinion in cases of this kind. There is scope already for developing the existing facilities through the industrial rehabilitation units and the school psychology service, both of which are used to some extent, but the Central Executive is now considering what new facilities may be needed in this connection.
There is one paragraph of the Report which has not been mentioned in the debate—at least, it was not mentioned in the part which I heard, and I heard most if it—that is, paragraph 73 with its special reference to the problem of immigrants. I say most emphatically that the Government welcome what was said there by the Council. This is a particular challenge to the Youth Employment Service, and it is an important aspect of the whole matter.
Undoubtedly, there is evidence—I have met it in contacts with the schools and the education service throughout the country—of young immigrants leaving school with qualifications, having had at school a happy experience in an atmosphere with little or no racial prejudice of any kind, and then suddenly being let down in the sense that they are not able to get jobs to which their qualifications entitle them and which indigenous children are able to get with the same or less qualifications. This is something which ought to concern us all. We ought all to use our influence against the kind of prejudice which exists there, and, of course, it is a particular challenge to the Youth Employment Service itself.
There are two main aspects of the problem to which we have to devote our attention in the Department of Education. One is the part to be played by the schools in co-operation with the service. The other is the links with further education and the new developments in industrial training. As regards the schools, our job and the job of the local education authorities is to stimulate good careers guidance, to stimulate the kind of situation which the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) was 166 describing a few minutes ago as the ideal in which he believes. We have to admit that the pattern varies considerably throughout the country. What is being done in the best cases is excellent, but in far too many schools there is poor provision as yet. But there is evidence that good provision is increasing quickly, and increasing despite shortage of staff —a very real problem in the schools in this connection—because what is becoming recognised more and more widely is that good careers guidance is not merely being helpful to boys and girls on their future employment but has very great value in pure education terms.
Over and over again, a dangerous situation can be found in which young people from the age of 13 or so onwards become, quite naturally, more and more concerned with what they are to do when they leave school while, at the same time, what they are doing at school may begin to seem irrelevant to them and they start to lose interest. The provision, therefore, of proper careers guidance is part of the education pattern. This is a theme developed in the Newsom Report, the Brunton Report and by several others since. I remind the House of a Report just produced by the Schools Council, "Raising the School-Leaving Age", which describes the steps which need to be taken to improve the educational content of the last year at school. This develops thinking on the need to make education outward looking in several respects, including, of course, giving intelligent vocational guidance during that period.
As a Department, we can help here, first—this is going on all the time—by the constant advice which is given by Her Majesty's Inspectors in their normal work in the schools. Secondly, it will be done by the production of literature. We have recently produced a booklet, "Careers Guidance in Schools", which contains a good deal of advice on this subject. It considerably overlaps the theme of Chapter 2 of the Albemarle Report. The third thing that we can do, and are doing, is to increase the courses available for careers teachers.
As to the advice given in the booklet and elsewhere, the following are the main points. First of all, we say that there should be within each school at least one teacher concerned with careers 167 guidance. It will often be better, particularly in larger schools, for the work to be done by a team of teachers. On the whole, we do not favour the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) to have a full-time person in a large school doing the job. We are not attempting to dictate in detail how schools should do it, but our general philosophy is that it is better for teachers to be doing this as well as other things, thus avoiding the danger that they become in any way divorced from the general teaching process. They should have time to do the job. They should have available adequate records on which to base their advice. They should as far as possible have the kind of personality to which the hon. Member referred and be able to get on friendly and relaxed terms with pupils and parents.
Secondly, we say that the contacts between the schools, parents and the Youth Employment Service should be close and should begin on the whole earlier than they do now. From the age of 13 children are beginning to be interested in the problem. The process should be introduced into the schools, though not in the sense that pupils are expected to make, or encouraged to make, a firm decision on a career too early. Rather we say that there should be a period of exploring the various possibilities. The phrase "planned procrastination" has been used as describing the right approach on which teachers should discuss the possibilities with their pupils.
We also give advice on the appropriate content of schools libraries in this field —works of reference, standard books, careers literature, even novels relating to careers possibilities—and to other methods of arousing interest—careers displays, careers conventions, the use of visiting speakers and so on. This includes visits to industry. The context in which we would want this to be considered is that the visits to industry should not be in the sense that we are trying to sell a particular job to particular pupils. It is rather that with visits to industry there should be preparation beforehand and follow-up afterwards as part of teaching experience and part of the outward-looking education I have mentioned which may or may not lead to pupils being 168 interested in a career in the place they are visiting.
§ Mr. John Page
Will the Minister clarify one point? He said that he did not believe in careers masters solely doing the job of careers. Would he not think that in large schools there should be one master or mistress responsible for disseminating ideas about careers to the rest of the staff?
§ Mr. Prentice
Yes, either one master or mistress or a team of masters or mistresses, depending on the size of the school. The essential thing is that there should be within the staff one or more teachers with the time to do the job and with support from the head teacher and others to do it properly.
We are expanding the training courses which we are providing. We have been running for some time in the Department a course for eight days every summer for careers teachers. This was expanded to two courses last year. The courses have a good reputation, but we are worried that we are not reaching enough people. At the moment 400 or 500 teachers have passed through the courses in recent years, but this is nothing like the requirement nationally. So this coming year we shall run two courses, one being a high level course for 15 teachers who have already attended the first course, plus 15 youth employment officers who will be expected to go back and run their own courses in the localities. We are calling on local authorities to help so that the ideas may be disseminated more widely.
I want to say a few words about the problem as it affects us in relation to further education. I welcome paragraphs 49–58 in the Report about the need for closer links between the Youth Employment Service and the further education world. I think we should all agree that one of the growing duties of a youth employment officer is to disseminate information about further education, which in itself is perhaps the fastest growing part of the education system. This in its original forms and in connection with the new Industrial Training Act gives the youth employment officer one more duty on top of all the others as a channel of information to the young people concerned.
169 The Report refers to the tendency in some areas for new youth employment offices to be located in technical colleges. We welcome this. There have been 17 examples of this in the last five years. The Department, in looking at plans for new technical colleges, will welcome this as a special way of increasing the links between the Youth Employment Service and technical education.
We have been discussing the Youth Employment Service today in a wide context of changes in industry and changes in education. I suggest that, provided the kind of reforms which have commanded general support on both sides of the House are pursued with the necessary vigour and backed up with the necessary resources by government nationally and by government locally, and if they can be tied in with other things happening in education and training, we shall be able to claim that we are moving forward to a new deal for teen-agers and particularly those who tend to leave school at the age of 15 or 16. At the moment, too many are leaving at 15, making a sharp break with education and getting no organised further education and too little guidance in their careers.
If one looks ahead into the 'seventies, we shall have a situation where there will be education for all up to 16 and there will be the growing impact of industrial training. More and more young people are getting organised training at their place of work, and training not only in the conventional craft skills. I have a natural inclination to support the apprentices, but we are concerned here not merely with the traditional apprenticeship categories but with young people entering work of all kinds, girls as well as 170 boys, commerce and agriculture and distribution, as well as industry in the narrower sense.
There will also be a great increase of day release and block release courses as part of the expansion of industrial training. I remind the House that my right hon. Friend recently announced that he will not normally approve schemes put up by industrial training boards unless they include an element of day release or block release.
In this way we shall achieve something that was envisaged in 1944—part-time education for all up to the age of 18. But we shall do it by a different method and not by the day colleges which were envisaged then. We shall achieve for more and more young people more and more facilities and opportunities until eventually it becomes the normal thing to take such further education while the process of earning a living is beginning.
Part of this pattern has to be a strengthened Youth Employment Service, larger in numbers and better trained, housed in better premises and supported by better and larger clerical staff and a bigger research effort. To achieve that will demand a very great deal from the Government, from local authorities, from the schools and from the Youth Employment Service itself, and this debate today, which has been very constructive, has put the matter and its urgency in the right perspective.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the Report of a Working Party of the National Youth Employment Council on the Future Development of the Youth Employment Service.