§ Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Ninth Report from the Estimates Committee in the last Session of Parliament and of the Second Special Report from the Estimates Committee relating to Manpower Training for Industry.I am very glad to have this opportunity of commending to the House another Report from the Estimates Committee, and I am pleased to see on the Front Bench my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who I understand intends to intervene in the debate rather early. I congratulate him on the very prompt way in which he and his Department have implemented the Industrial Training Act. It is characteristic of him that he should have this interest in industrial training, and it is an example of the way in which the present Government have been very prompt to act in certain directions.
Before I come to the Industrial Training Boards, and the part of the Report dealing with them, I should like to say something about the Vocational Training Scheme and remind the House of one or two of its historic aspects. It came very much to the fore between the wars, against the background of mass unemployment. It is fair to argue that the Scheme's whole purpose—certainly in the 1930s, when my family had very direct connections with it— was to provide a way in which men who had been unemployed for a very long time could return to industry.
The Scheme took on a different aspect after the Second World War, when the main purpose of vocational training was training for resettlement and reconstruction. There was a big increase in the number of centres and of men and women attending vocational training schemes. Unfortunately, the Scheme was run down in the 1950s and it was not until 1962 that there was a shift in emphasis and the Government of the day, our predecessors, began looking at vocational training to develope and discover new skills. The Ministry view was that it was to give "accelerated adult training" and 240…a thorough grounding in the basic skills of a trade normally acquired by means of apprenticeship.In November 1966 there was a demand for more than 4,500 places. Is it now easier for trainees to find jobs? One of the things we discovered in taking evidence was that there was a certain amount of wastage during the courses, that some of those who had finished their training did not find it very easy to get work. Has there been an improvement? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the present wastage figures during and after training?
The Report says that instructors at vocational training centres are below strength and that they are under-paid. We think that instructors' salaries should equate those of Grade B lecturers in technical colleges, because to a large extent they are doing the same job.
We also wish to ask about the impact of the Industrial Training Act on the two instructor training colleges run by the Ministry. When we visited one of them, we noticed that a large number of the trainees were instructors from private industry. This is to be welcomed. It is a good thing that private industry should be sending its instructors to be trained in this way. We may see that developing in future years.
I should also like to underline the importance of Government courses for training disabled workers. A very large number of them are trained in the Government vocational centres. It is a job which perhaps could not easily be done anywhere else, and my right hon. Friend and his Department should be congratulated on the work they are doing.
One aspect of the question of vocational training that comes to mind is the discovery of pockets of regional unemployment, to which reference was made in the House yesterday afternoon. Some people seem to think that there is a work fund, just as 150 years or so ago people talked about a wage fund. The idea seems to have got abroad that to find work for people in one place we must make people unemployed somewhere else. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend is not a supporter of the view of the work fund.
Perhaps I may interpose here a purely local question, asking my right hon. Friend to bear in mind the question of 241 the future of the training school at A.E.I., Woolwich, where 400 apprentices under Paining will become redundant in the next 12 months. We shall return to that subject on another occasion.
I now turn to the Industrial Training Act. Some people might question whether the Estimates Committee was right to conduct an inquiry into the operation of the Act at this stage, so early in its working. Should we have waited until the Industrial Training Bards had got off the ground and all of them had been set up? There can be various views on this, but we felt that it was a good thing to start looking at matters early and start asking questions early, so that we might have a thorough discussion of the operation of the Act and the Industrial Training Boards quite early in their history.
The Act, put on the Statute Book by the former Conservative Government, was very revolutionary; to some people it is too revolutionary. Some hon. Members still think that industrial training is the responsibility of industry alone, and that all that the Government or public authorities should do is to act as a kind of adjunct to the industrial training carried on in private industry. That view was very noticeable in our recent debate on the agricultural levy. It was a very good debate, but it seemed to me a little unfortunate that so many hon. Members who took part did not seem to have read the Report, or to have read or understood the replies given by witnesses to some of the points raised. Some hon. Members seemed to be of the opinion that agricultural training was the responsibility of the industry alone. Both the Labour and Conservative Parties now officially accept that it is the responsibility of Government to intervene, that it is more than the Government's job these days to provide technical education to back up the training provided in industry.
The objectives of the Act were, first, to secure an adequate amount of training in industry at all levels—and, I emphasise, at all levels. We are not only concerned with training at the level of the ordinary worker, but at all levels. The second objective was to improve the quality of training, and the third to secure a fairer distribution of the costs of raining. The instruments of the Act are the Industrial Training Boards.
242 By 9th October last year, 21 of these boards had been set up, and we took evidence from two of them—the Engineering Industry Training Board and the Construction Industry Training Board. We did this because the engineering and construction industries are of a very dissimilar nature. Engineering is predominantly an industry of large or moderately large employers. The construction industry, rather like agriculture, is one of mainly small employers with a few giants. But even in agriculture, of course, there are some giants from the point of view of operation if not, perhaps, from the point of view of employment.
In the Report and our discussion of the Report, one of the things we considered was the approach of the boards to their tasks. We felt that, in the early days of the appointment of a board and of its work, there was need for thought about the purposes of industrial training within its industry. We felt that there was a need to relate training to technological changes within the industry and to discuss those changes. We felt that there was a need to think about the deployment of existing manpower and possibly the redeployment of manpower. Finally, we felt that there was a need to discuss training priorities.
We also considered the printing industry during our deliberations and took evidence from one very large employer of labour. It is obvious that here, for example, is an industry where very great technological changes are going on. We thought that it would be rather absurd to start collecting large sums of money and appoint training officers and instructors until the board knew where it was going to start. We felt that there was a need to think about the future of an industry as a whole and that it is perhaps far better to spend the first 12 months thinking about the purposes of training and analysing what the job of the board should be before a board starts committing large sums of money to training courses and so on. The view of the Ministry of Labour was well stated. It stated:A Board is preoccupied during the first year or year and a half of its existence with setting up an organisation and working out its first levy proposals and its first interim grant scheme. It is only after that first stage that they start to address their minds to the broader 243 long term questions such as what training objectives should we have in this industry?We wonder whether this is not the wrong way round and whether the best way is not rather to start thinking first about the future of the industry and what training should be about before a board starts collecting money and preparing a grant scheme.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
Would the hon. Gentleman apply that also to the agricultural industry?
§ Mr. Hamling
I did say that I would not try to go over the ground covered in the debate on two evenings last week. It may well be that some of the difficulties of the Minister in that debate might have been resolved if twelve months' thought had been given first. But, knowing farmers as I do, I must say that many of them are a conservative lot and, frankly, I think that one could have a thousand years' discussion with some of them and at the end of it still be no better off. I think one has to make a move sometime.
One of the priorities in training I want to dwell upon is the future of apprenticeship. I know that many people, in talking about industrial training, are thinking first of apprenticeship training. I was engaged in a minor way in education in the printing industry before coming here and spent much of my time dealing with apprenticeships. I thought that the system of apprenticeships in the printing industry was scandalously old-fashioned. There is a great need for study of the future of apprenticeships not only in the printing industry but also in the steel and agricultural industries—indeed, in every industry.
We are still to a large extent living in the past in this context. I talked to a five year student at the London College of Printing who bewailed the fact that at 21 his life was set for him. It is an appalling situation when a young man of 21 has the attitude to life that, "Here I am in this industry, stuck for the next 40-odd years". That is an appalling state of affairs in a modern industrial country.
There is a great need in all our industries for vast technological change and for looking at the whole future of apprenticeship. There are some very old- 244 fashioned ideas about. I came from an industrial town in the North where lads went into industry and started apprenticeships and for the first couple of years were no more than "hand rags" about the place—messenger boys, tea lads, etc. That sort of thing still goes on in many industrial places.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
Perhaps my hon. Friend will give us some specific instances. We have heard this sort of thing said before. It is not my experience, and I was an apprentice engineer. If there are such firms, will my hon. Friend tell us which they are? It is time we knew. We do not want broad allegations but concrete instances now.
§ Mr. Hamling
I will take time off and conduct my hon. Friend around one or two industrial places in London. I will show him what goes on. He does not need to go far from this building to see the sort of thing going on still. In any case, a large amount of time of apprentices is wasted in doing routine jobs when they should be under training.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
Does not my hon. Friend know that, in many industries, including the construction industry, the period of apprenticeship has been reduced to four years? Perhaps that underlines the point he is making.
§ Mr. Hamling
Looking at some of the jobs in the construction industry, I think that if apprentices cannot learn them in four months there is something wrong with them. Even four years is too long a period for some of the jobs. There is a tremendous waste of potential ability in our youngsters. I know from my experience in the printing industry that much of the time of apprentices is wasted and, knowing the jobs they do, I am sure that they could be learning them in a much shorter period than is devoted to them at present. Also, of course, there is tremendous waste of potential in a boy in as much as he is only expected to learn one branch of his trade and must be devoted to that branch perhaps for the following 40 years, being denied the opportunity to learn other branches. At the age of 16, when many of them start, it is too early to concentrate on a particular branch of the trade. I hope that in the plans being prepared by the industrial training boards, consideration will be given to this.
245 Maybe we are looking at the wrong end when we start talking about apprentices. It was certainly the view of some of the witnesses who came before us that firms ought not to start by training apprentices but by training managers. It is so obvious in many industries that it is the managers who are the big stumbling blocks, not so much the workers. In paragraph 52 of the Report some strong evidence was given to the effect that there was a tremendous need for management training. As one witness, himself on the management side, put it:The employers do talk regularly at great length about the training of apprentices and from time to time at shorter length about the training of front-line supervisors, and never about the training of themselves.This is fundamental to the situation.
One of the troubles is that in some industries there is still a certain amount of nepotism — the fact that a manager becomes a manager because he is born into the management class. This is certainly one of the feelings among my own trade union students over many years.
I now turn to the levy grant system. The Committee made certain recommendations on this, and I would like to ask my right hon. Friend whether he would perhaps go further than the Departmental Reply on this point. One criticism of the levy grant system has been that small employers find great difficulty in meeting it. This was very much the burden of the debate the other night. It is only fair to point out that it is not only in agriculture and horticulture that one has small employers. This is why we took evidence from the construction industry. This is an industry where I certainly expected to find a great deal of opposition to the levy from small employers. My colleagues on the sub-committee will bear me out when I say that I did not find as much criticism of the system as I thought we would.
I now come to deal with training officers and the training of instructors. In the Departmental Reply there is a distinction between these two categories, training officers being those who are largely administrative, and instructors those who actually do the job of instructing. This distinction is emphasised, but I find it difficult to make such a distinction very firmly. There is a great danger of separating the two functions and of 246 regarding the training officer simply as an administrator. Training officers should be familiar with the techniques of instruction, and it is perhaps desirable that they should be drawn from the ranks of instructors.
Perhaps the training officers might be the people who train the instructors. Again I speak with some experience of this because, during my Service career, I spent some time at the Royal Marine School of Signalling, rejoicing under the title of the Assistant Superintendent of Signalling, Royal Marines. My job was to run the signals school, which was a kind of vocational training institution. I was the senior instructor, as well as being an administrator, and my job was to train the instructors. This is a very interesting and easy job for a training officer to do. Goodness knows, we have too many people who spend their lives, particularly in education, simply being administrators. They tend to get away from the real job. I hope that this distinction will be regarded, not so much a distinction of principle as merely two aspects of the job of instruction.
My colleagues will no doubt deal with some other aspects of the Report and its recommendations. I do not expect readily that all the recommendations that we made ought to be adopted, or will be adopted. It may be that we got things wrong and that my right hon. Friend, in his usual ebullient and charming way, will point out where we did go wrong.
The future of industry depends so much upon modern industrial training. After all, when young men go into industry they need to have a constructive future. They need the best training. Skill is so short that we need to look for it wherever it may be. Similarly there are so many men and women in middle years who want to change their direction. Particularly when we look at the unemployment situation and at the redeployment of labour, there is a tremendous need for finding new skills and for training people in new industries, and perhaps new branches of existing industries. With those things in mind I commend the Report to the House.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. R. J. Gunter)
I welcome the opportunity afforded by the Report of the Estimates 247 Committee for a thorough debate on industrial training. This is—I was going to say the House at its best—but this is an occasion where we have a one-line Whip, we are not looking over our shoulders and we have, perhaps, gathered round us the dedicated people who know something about the subject so that we can have a searching review of the position.
No one can dispute, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) has said, that the question of training men and women in industry and commerce is one of the essential factors in the promotion of national efficiency and economic growth. The Sub-Committee of the Estimates Committee took much evidence and put many questions, probed opinions and drew conclusions. Then it set out its recommendations. It has served the House well. Although my observations on the Report will show that I cannot go all the way with it on some of the recommendations, the inquiry has nevertheless illuminated a number of important issues and stimulated thought and discussion.
In the three and a half years since the first training boards were set up under the Industrial Training Act, there has been, I believe, despite what anyone else says, unprecedented progress in the development of industrial training. Thanks to the foundations laid by the last Conservative Administration, the seeds of the training revolution have been sown on fertile ground. Both sides of industry have welcomed and fostered this development. A total of 21 boards has now been established—an average rate of one board every eight or nine weeks. They span a wide range of industry and commerce. Plans to set up another five boards during 1968 are well advanced, including a board for the printing and publishing industry, which was mentioned in the Report.
By the end of this year 16 million work-people will be covered by boards, out of the 18 million that were estimated to be within the scope of the Act. We all know that the creation of an industrial training board achieved nothing by itself. But to an industry which is prepared to support it and work with it, it offers potential gains which are immeasurable. Not only will its activities 248 give an impetus to the expansion of training, to the development of modern and better training methods but, perhaps more important in the long run, is the gain in productive efficiency which better training will engender. It is not only the nation but the individual himself who gains advantages from training.
Allowing for the different circumstances of their industries, the boards have made progress with commendable speed. They are already able to deploy considerable resources. During the current year they will be making grants to a value approaching £120 million. Increasingly they are able to give advice and guidance to individual firms, not just through published literature but through training advisory officers. Already boards employ between them over 500 training advisers who can help firms improve their training performance, both in relation to boards' grant schemes and to each firm's particular needs. The Engineering Board, for instance, is making over 40,000 visits to firms a year.
In order not to deprive industry of its own training experts, and this is the point my hon. Friend was on, many boards have recruited officers who had little or no experience of training and have given them the basic training themselves. This has affected the speed with which these advisers could be deployed. Not all boards, however, will think it is right to use their training staff on regular routine visits to firms. The best use of these advisers is a matter for judgment by the individual boards in the light of the needs of their industries. However, there is no doubt that, especially in industries where systematic training is not widespread, these officers are already bringing the message of the Act and offering helpful advice to managements on the organisation of the training.
I think that the Chairman of the Committee, whose advice we have had, would agree that much of the work of the boards has a direct bearing on the quality rather than the quantity of industrial training. For this reason it is not easy to find a simple valid measure of much of the progress which I know is being made. For instance, most of the boards in their grant schemes lay down minimum standards for the receipt of grants about such matters as the employment of properly trained instructors, 249 the development of systematic training plans and the use of comprehensive and reliable training records. These conditions must, I am sure, be making their contribution towards improving the overall effectiveness of the training which is given in industry.
More far reaching in their impact are the training recommendations which the boards publish covering such matters as the nature, content, method and length of training, the selection of trainees and the standards of instruction. The boards' training recommendations are intended eventually to cover all categories of worker. This will inevitably involve a great deal of consultation, research, skills analysis and take some time. But already the Wool, Jute and Flax Board, the Iron and Steel Board and the Gas Industry Training Board, to name only three, have published their recommendations on training for a wide variety of occupations and other boards are giving similar priority to this work.
It is sometimes said that the training boards exist primarily for the benefit of the larger firms. But through the development of group training schemes the services of qualified training officers and comprehensive training facilities are being made available to many small and medium sized firms who could not otherwise obtain them. There are now over 200 groups compared with only about 60 some two to three years ago. About three out of four of the groups are in the engineering industry and they have a membership of over 2,000 firms and 11,000 trainees. The Construction Industry Training Board has introduced group schemes to its industry for the first time and has already established more than 20 schemes. Schemes have also been started in industries as widely different as iron and steel, ceramics, textiles and hotel and catering.
Some of the boards are also doing some pioneer work in their own newly established training centres. At its centre at Bircham Newton for instance, the Construction Board has set out to provide courses for many of the basic operations in civil engineering for which hitherto no systematic training programmes had been provided. Similarly, the Shipbuilding Board has set up a training centre at 250 Southampton to provide an entirely new first year course of training for craft trainees in boat building, while the Wool, Jute and Flax Board has a small training school for burlers and menders. The Water Supply Training Board has also set out to provide a range of off-the-job training facilities for the industry in a number of board centres.
One of the most striking advances is the acceptance by a growing number of boards that for most craft occupations it is desirable at the outset to have a period of full-time training away from the pressures and demands of the job in a special training centre or school. The Ministry has added its own grants to the grants of the boards to encourage this, and the resultant progress is evident. In the engineering industry off-the-job training places increased from 14,000 to 24,000 in the year ending September, 1966, and by now the figure has reached 30,000. There has also been substantial growth in the number of off-the-job training places in the iron and steel and shipbuilding industries during the past two years under encouragement from their training boards.
Off-the-job training is important as a means for greater training efficiency. The Engineering Board is finding, for example, that with one year's training off-the-job some trainees are reaching standards of practical work which were not previously attained until the second or third year of training. Other boards too are finding that by relating the length of training periods rather to what needs to be learned than to traditional apprenticeship periods customary training times can be shortened. Thus for instance, the recommended training for craft trainees in iron and steel and shipbuilding is now four rather than five years and the Foundry Committee has recommended programmes of training for pattern-makers lasting just three years.
Off-the-job training is also important as a means to more flexible training arrangements and a more versatile labour force. Thus all craft and technician trainees in engineering follow a common broad-based course of training for the first year. Similarly the Shipbuilding Industrial Training Board has recommended common courses of initial training for a number of different craft occupations.
251 A yet more significant step towards greater versatility is foreshadowed in the proposals for modular training which have been under discussion in the engineering industry and are soon to be published as training recommendations by the Engineering Industrial Training Board to follow on the Board's first year training recommendations which are already being put into effect. The modular proposals concentrate on the training needed to acquire particular skills rather than particular traditional occupations and envisage that trainees will be able to acquire a combination of skills relevant to their aptitudes and to the needs of the firm, not only during the initial training period, but also as demands arise later in their working life.
I have given just a few examples of the hard signs of progress being made in industrial training through the work of the training boards. I shall be drawing attention to others also as I deal with selected topics later in my speech.
I should like to say something about the Central Training Council which aroused the interest of the Committee. This Council was established in May, 1964, to advise me on my functions under the Act and any other matters relating to industrial training which I may refer to it. The constitution of the Council is laid down in the Act and its members include employers, trade unionists, the chairmen of Industrial Training Boards, educationists and some independent members. The first three-year term of office of the Council came to an end in May last year and I should like to take this opportunity of recording my great appreciation of the very notable contribution which the Council has made. Individual members have given a great deal of time and thought to the work not only of the Council itself but also of its various committees and working parties. This was a tremendous voluntary effort. I am sure that the House would wish me to express appreciation to the eminent and busy men who voluntarily gave their services.
The Council has looked at some of the major issues which are of central importance to progress under the Act—for instance, on the relationship between industrial training and further education, 252 and on the principal tasks facing industrial training boards—and has published a series of memoranda about them.
The Council has been acutely aware in reviewing the work of the different industrial training boards that there are large areas—as, for instance, the training of training officers, training for commercial and clerical occupations and training for management—which are of common concern to all boards. It has felt that the best way in which it can give guidance on these subjects is to set up a series of specialist committees to study them.
These committees have prepared four reports so far, all of which have been published as Council documents. There have been two reports on training officers dealing with their initial training and with the longer term pattern of training that is required. There has been a report on training for commerce and the office, and a report on the training and development of managers which presented the common features of effective schemes of management training and development and considered the way in which training boards might help to promote them. A report on training for office supervision is now with the printers and will be available shortly. These reports and the Council's memoranda have been given a wide distribution and have served not only as part of its advice to the Minister but also as guidance to the training boards and as information documents to the public generally.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West knows, I have already accepted the Estimates Committee's recommendation that before the end of the Council's period of office in 1970 there should be a review of its administration and functions. Members of the Council will be associated with the Ministry in this review. One of the matters to which we shall have to give careful attention is the suggestion—discussed by the Estimates Committee with a number of the witnesses who gave evidence—that the Council ought to be independent of the Ministry with its own secretariat and budget. If this means that the Council should have some executive functions and cease to be purely advisory, it does seem that there would be a very difficult problem in establishing a satisfactory relationship between the Council and the industrial training boards themselves, which 253 are the executive agencies under the Act in its present form. I shall be most interested to hear any suggestions hon. Members may have as to how this difficulty might be overcome, because there are two schools of thought about it. There are those who think that it should be maintained in a purely advisory capacity.
I should like to say a few words on further education. It is no longer disputed that our modern conditions of rapid technological change and intense international competition demand a work force which is both highly trained and educated. This integration of education with training is essential if people in industry are to be equipped to carry out their work effectively and to have the opportunity to advance to more demanding and responsible work. As early as July 1965, I made it clear that I would normally approve the proposals of industrial training boards only if they made it a condition of grant to employers that day release or equivalent was provided for young people in occupations requiring a substantial amount of training.
The Industrial Training Act places a statutory requirement on industrial training boards to make recommendations on the further education to be associated with their training recommendations. That is a very important element in the Act.
The local education authorities are responsible for providing the courses of further education needed to meet the demand arising from boards' recommendations. In making this distinction, the Act merely recognises the existing responsibility on the education authorities to provide the education service. But the Act assumes also that further education and training are complementary aspects of a single process, and makes provision for the active participation of the education service in its administration at all levels. It provides for the appointment of education members on the Central Training Council and on every board. Assessors from the Education Departments attend the meetings of boards and committees and are able to contribute an educational viewpoint at all stages of discussion of training recommendations. Similarly, there is close and continuous contact between my Ministry and the Education Departments.
254 There are established arrangements for direct liaison between boards and the education authorities in the development of courses of further education.
I turn to the point on which my hon. Friend laid much emphasis—management training. I do not believe that there is any dispute about the need for improved management performance. The increasing size and complexities of organisations and the technological processes that they control are demanding highly skilled and professional managers. Neither the nation nor industry can afford inefficient management, be it in the private or the public sector. Let me make one point quite clear. There are many firms in all sectors of our economy who can stand comparison with anyone in the world. The picture that is sometimes presented of British management being right down in the depths compared with any other nation is sheer nonsense. But let us also admit that there are many areas of British industry where there is room for improvement.
All this is, I believe, common ground, and the Estimates Committee had no doubts that urgent action is necessary. In my reply, I stressed that the boards are giving management training the highest possible priority consistent with their other responsibilities. All but two of the boards established prior to March last year include management training in their grant schemes, and, indeed, the other boards who have reached the stage of drafting their grant schemes make similar provision. Because the boards are autonomous, these grants vary immensely in scope and amount; but all the grants are, I believe, generous and cover, in whole or in part, fees, out-of-pocket expenses and refund of salary. Bearing in mind the benefits accruing to the firm—if the courses have been carefully matched to their needs—then I am quite satisfied that these grants provide acceptable incentives.
I referred earlier to the Report of the Management Training Committee of the Central Training Council. It was published last autumn and has been very well received by industry. It was the basic document at a two-day conference sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Labour and the British Institute of Management last month, and both I and my hon. 255 Friend the Parliamentary Secretary addressed the conference.
I believe that this Report will come to be seen as an important landmark in management training and development in this country. It sets out in simple terms the common features of effective schemes of management training and, through the operation of the industrial training boards, the pattern outlined in the Report will, I believe, come to be widely adopted in industry.
Before turning away from management, I would like to pay a tribute to the educational services. I would not have thought, and I doubt if any other hon. Member would have thought, ten years ago that today we should have 21 universities with departments concerned with business studies and two graduate business schools. In addition, numerous colleges and organisations in both the public and the private sectors provide courses in management education and training. We have all recognised in previous debates that for far too long there has been a lack of unity between those who teach and those who practise. I believe that, under the sheer impact of events, there is a growing understanding one for the other, and I am sure that we all welcome this. Increasingly, college staff—the majority of whom have had industrial experience themselves—are going out to industry to find out what their needs are and providing instruction accordingly.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
I welcome everything that the right hon. Gentleman has said about management education. However, before he leaves the topic, he is unambiguously responsible for industrial training. In so far as the Government have responsibility for management training, is he also unambiguously responsible for that, or is it split between Ministries?
§ Mr. Gunter
As far as I know, I have responsibility, via the industrial training boards. I hope that that is the right answer. I think that it is.
§ Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)
Can the right hon. Gentleman elucidate a little further on the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph)? Are the powers for management education previously held by the Department of Edu- 256 cation and Science now to be transferred to the Ministry of Labour?
§ Mr. Gunter
In the light of what has just been said, I think that I had better ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to make the necessary inquiry and provide the answer when he replies to the debate.
Turning to the aspects of vocational training for which the Government are directly responsible, I must give first prominence to the expansion of our Government training centres—though they are not, as too many seem to think, the beginning and ending of the Government's direct contribution to industrial training. Too many people assume that the Government's training centres are almost entirely responsible for the training of our people, and that is quite untrue. In October 1964, we had 25 Government training centres with 3,900 training places. By the time I addressed the House on the same subject some 14 months ago, there were 32 Government training centres with 6,400 training places. By the time that I hope to be talking at the end of this year, we shall have a lot more. I said 14 months ago, that our immediate plans aimed at a total of 38 centres and 8,000 training places by the end of 1967. As the House knows, this target was duly achieved. Our plan for 1968 is to raise the number of training places to 10,000—by opening four new centres and four extensions to existing centres; by more intensive use of space already available; and by transferring the first year apprenticeship classes at Government training centres to the care of local technical colleges so as to make way for more adult classes.
All these plans are going according to schedule. Many of the new classes in our present centres are already in being. Work on building four new centres and extensions either has already started or will do so shortly. The first year apprenticeship classes will all have been moved from Government training centres by the end of the year.
The achievement of 10,000 training places may in some hearts be regarded as a notable landmark, but it must not be regarded as a resting place. The Government have already arranged for work to start during the next financial year on the building of six further centres. 257 Their locations—already announced—will be Darlington, near Durham, Wrexham, Wakefield, North Staffordshire, and West London; I expect all to be in business by the end of 1970.
I now have to tell the House that which has not been announced, that, besides the six that I have just mentioned. the Government have decided to build a further seven centres. They will be sited in West Monmouthshire, at Dundee and Middlesbrough, and in the areas of Basildon New Town, South-East London, Wolverhampton and St. Helens.
The effect of all these plans is that, by the end of 1970, we shall have 55 centres with about 13,400 training places and the ability to turn out nearly 23,000 trained men a year—that is, about 3½ times the capacity of October, 1964.
Rightly, I think, we have not confined the expansion of Government training centres to the development areas. But the immediate programme is heavily biased towards the needs of those areas. It is vital that the expansion of industry and employment which they need should not be delayed by a lack of skilled labour. Thus, 11 of the 17 new centres to be opened by the end of 1970 will be in development areas. There will then be 27 centres serving these areas, as against only 10 in October, 1964; and they will have a substantially greater share of the training places which will then be available.
All these figures represent solid achievement and firm plans for the immediate future. Yet I am often told that all this is not enough, and I do not suppose that it is. I am often told in particular that there should be a mushroom growth of Government training centres throughout the development areas. But it is not always appreciated that Government training centres are not, as is often supposed, the easy answer to every re-training problem. They have the limited—though vital—purposes of adding to our stock of skilled labour and of giving a second chance to workers who have never had, or no longer have, a usable skill. The courses they provide are of highly concentrated training, and they are designed for those who are equal to the exacting demands of that highly concentrated training.
258 I am glad to be able to say that there is no present lack of suitable applicants; but it is still true that the bulk of retraining is needed at the semi-skilled level and that this job is best done by industry itself. That is why we are encouraging the growth of such training in development areas by training grants, financial assistance towards managerial training, the loan of Ministry instructors to start up training in firms' own workshops, and free courses of training for industrial supervisors and instructors.
Another issue that my hon. Friend raised during the proceedings of the Sub-Committee was instructor training. The industrial training boards generally have appreciated the importance of properly trained instructors and have made substantial provision for instructor training in their initial grant schemes. My Ministry in turn, as the House knows, makes grants to the boards to help meet certain of these costs. Many boards also pay grants designed to meet, in whole or in part, the cost of employing instructors.
The importance of providing effective courses of instructor training has long been recognised by my Ministry and the demands made on our two instructor training colleges at Letchworth and Hillington are heavier than ever before. The expansion of these two colleges, which I referred to in my reply to the Committee, will be substantially achieved this month. Small instructor training units are being established alongside Government training centres, at Perivale, Liverpool, Killingworth and Leicester. The Perivale unit is already established. The provision of a further such unit is being considered for South Wales. These colleges and units will, I am sure, make an increasing contribution to industry's general requirements in the instructor field—complementary, as it were, to the work of the boards.
There is a growing practice whereby boards make arrangements with selected colleges to run courses slanted to the needs of their industries. The Wool Board were pioneers in this field; and several other boards have done likewise. The Industrial Training Service has run 45 special courses for instructors, often on behalf of boards.
I turn now to manpower forecasting. I hope the House will forgive me for speaking at greater length than usual, 259 but I thought it was better to have a good look at the whole situation.
One of the major duties of the training boards is to consider the future manpower requirements of their industries and to prepare estimates of the training needed to support it. The Central Training Council has identified this as being a high priority for the boards in their future work and the Estimates Committee has rightly drawn attention to the role of the Ministry's Manpower Research Unit in this field.
It is fair to say that at the outset the boards were anxious, first of all, to establish themselves as working organisations and to stimulate the interest and cooperation of employers by bringing in schemes of levy and grant. There were also some obvious high priorities like producing training recommendations for new entrants to their industries, and it has been right for the boards, in my opinion, to concentrate on the quality of the training of these young people on whom the whole future of industry depends. Nevertheless, the planning activities of boards are of vital importance and I expect them to be given a great deal of attention from now on.
The Manpower Research Unit was set up with the object, among other things, of helping the boards, and it has already given guidance to them on the collection of statistics, which is, of course, basic to this sort of work. Existing statistics are very largely inadequate for the boards' purposes, and the collection of occupational statistics to their own requirements can be expected only in the longer term to yield results suitable as a basis for their forecasts. In the immediate future they may have to rely largely on information about current shortages of manpower and on mainly qualitative assessments of likely manpower trends. The Manpower Research Unit's main task is to prepare manpower forecasts on a consistent basis for all industry groups in broad occupational categories. This will provide a framework within which training boards can develop their plans to expand training capacities.
It is also necessary, however, for the Unit to carry out more detailed studies of particular industries and sectors in 260 order to supplement the often inadequate data available and to give a more complete and up-to-date picture of changes in occupational structure. Such a study of the electronics industry was published at the end of last year, and other studies now under way cover the printing industry, the machine tool industry and the hotel and catering industry. The Unit anticipates a considerable development in this aspect of its work. Some of the training boards also intend to undertake similar studies of their own. The Unit and the boards will work in close cooperation to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources and that there is no duplication of work. If joint inquiries are required in co-operation with one or more boards the Unit will gladly take part. Although quick progress cannot be made in this highly technical sort of work I hope that manpower forecasting will make an increasingly important contribution to the task of the boards.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
We have been listening with the greatest care to what the Minister has been saying. Is he satisfied that the information available to the Manpower Research Unit is made available to the Ministry of Education early enough so that in highly technical spheres long-term assessments can be made of the kind of educational background that will be needed before, so to speak, the vocational training can take place?
§ Mr. Gunter
This question was raised with me about a fortnight ago. I understand that the facilities for it and the speed with which it is done are satisfactory. However, as the hon. Gentleman has raised it again, I will have another look at that.
I turn now to the question of adult retraining through industrial training boards. The Industrial Training Act placed on the training boards an obligation to take a fresh and critical look at both the length of training for various occupations in their industries and the point at which such training—and retraining—is required. We are beginning to realise that the need for training does not end at 21 or any other arbitrarily determined age. The Central Training Council observed in its first report in November, 1965, that the concept of an apprenticeship served in a man's teens, 261 which will enable him to pursue a sharply defined occupation for the rest of his working life, had become increasingly unrealistic. There is now, I think, a general acceptance of the idea that there is a need for training and retraining of adult workers, either to bring them up-to-date in their own occupation or to enable them to perform a different kind of work altogether. Training and retraining can be seen, therefore, as the means both of satisfying the more immediate manpower requirements of particular industries and, in the longer term, of helping people to keep their skill and knowledge abreast of the needs of changing technologies.
It is helpful to distinguish two types of adult training and retraining. The first of these is at the semi-skilled and operator level and is carried out in firms themselves. It may be insufficiently organised or inexpertly done at present, but it takes place on a very considerable scale. The grant schemes of all the longer established training boards recognise for grant in various ways the schemes of adult retraining undertaken by employers and I am confident there will be a progressive improvement in the quality of this training. It was in order to encourage retraining for semi-skilled occupations by firms themselves that I brought in a new scheme of grants in the spring of last year. Under this, a sum of £2 million was made available to the boards to enable them to make grants to employers towards the capital cost of machinery and equipment purchased for use in their training bays or centres. The scheme was originally designed to last one year but I have now decided to continue it in the development areas.
Adult training to bring men to skilled level is largely carried out by accelerated methods in Government training centres. The G.T.C. programme is not sufficient by itself to meet all the needs, and it is important that we try to secure a far wider acceptance of the practice of giving up-grading training to the skilled level in industry itself. I have had talks on this, both within my National Joint Advisory Council. and at a special meeting which I convened with the representatives of industry. Although there was support in principle for an extension of upgrading training, there seemed to be a great recognition of the many difficulties at plant level. Whatever the difficulties, 262 I hope that we can make progress on this question of up-grading within firms. I believe that the largest reservoir of this type of labour could easily be acquired by this quick and happy method. The Ministry, the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. are again working on this programme, and I have made it clear that if a new scheme of grants is required I shall be willing to consider the possibility of giving any help that we can afford.
Something that is very near to our hearts at the moment is the training of redundant workers. The whole range of employment services provided by my Ministry—and there have been some important developments lately I am talking about the placing services—is available to help redundant workers find new jobs, but I think that we ought to be a little careful in the use of our language when discussing this problem. Our experience is that many redundant workers are able to take up new jobs without any retraining at all, and many of them do. They are adaptable. Wherever retraining is required, most of it is at the semi-skilled level, and is best given in the new firms on the machines or processes on which the men will have to work. For those redundant workers who need, and are suitable for, training at the skilled level, I hope that Government training centres will increasingly become available.
In addition, as the House knows, I have recently opened four new Industrial Rehabilitation Units in development areas, and these are intended particularly to provide a service for districts most affected by colliery closures, where the disablement figure is tragically high. Through these Units miners and others can be given skilled vocational guidance and an opportunity to familiarise themselves with new types of work which can make full use of their capabilities.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Will my right hon. Friend comment on a point which has been given much publicity, namely, the difficulty which is sometimes experienced in placing retrained men in industry? What experience has his Department of this?
§ Mr. Gunter
On the whole, the record has been very good. During the last nine to 12 months there has been an increase in the number unplaced. This is largely 263 because of the rise in unemployment. It is a fact that sometimes the trade unions in certain areas object to the placing of these men. There has been a limited amount of this, but generally our centres have achieved remarkable results. We are very conscious of the numbers who are unplaced, because I have always argued that there is nothing more cruel than getting someone to work hard, to accept his retraining, and then to find that he is not able to get a job. This is something to which we must pay great attention.
I propose, now, to say a few words about comparisons with other countries. I am sure that during the debate comparisons will be made with Sweden and France, and I have been inundated with requests from Members to catch up with Sweden. We have been urged to extend our training to at least the Swedish level of 1 per cent. of the total working population under training. For Britain this would mean 240.000 workers.
I have always believed that making comparisons, in league forms, with other countries gets us nowhere, because the statistics do not always start from the same point. The statistics are not on the same basis because of wide differences in economic and social conditions, and because we organise our industrial training and vocational education in different ways. It will be remembered that the Industrial Training Bill was presented by the Conservative Administration. It was one of the happiest Bills to go through the House. We were all agreed about it, but we must not forget that the House took a certain policy decision, one different from that taken in many other countries. When the Bill was introduced by the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), I agreed with him that we could not have vast training in industry and at the same time try to keep pace with other countries which put the emphasis on training in Government centres, and I therefore suggest that the circumstances are different. If we take the criterion of 1 per cent. of the total working population, which amounts to 240,000 workers, I am glad to tell the House that our level is higher than that in Sweden much higher.
People tend to assume that the number of people being trained in Govern- 264 ment training centres represents our total training effort. This is a complete misconception of the policy adopted by successive Governments of training far higher numbers in industry, in some cases with the help of technical colleges. In October 1965, the last date for which statistics are available, returns from employers to the Engineering Industry Training Board showed that more than 300,000 workers, or nearly 10 per cent. of the labour force in the industry, were receiving either training or retraining during a particular month. British industry as a whole must, at that date, have been training many more than 300,000—a figure which itself is higher than 1 per cent. of the total working population.
Returns sent to my Department from firms employing 11 or more workers showed that, for the manufacturing industries alone, firms had 450,000 workers under training in May 1967. Over the three years from 1964 to 1967—in effect the first three years of operation of the Industrial Training Act—there was an increase of 15 per cent. in the numbers under training in these firms in manufacturing industries as a whole. Comparable increases for metal manufacture were over 12 per cent.; for engineering over 20 per cent.; for the manufacture of metal goods 70 per cent.; and for electrical goods 35 per cent.
I do not say this in any spirit of complacency. Because of technological changes there is too much concern about the future for anybody to be complacent. but I suggest that it is time we stopped saying that anything this country does is inevitably worse than what other countries do. It is just not true. I would welcome any comparison of our training effort with that of any other country in the world.
I have ranged widely over the problems of industrial training, and the achievements of the many organisations and individuals who are contributing to its success. I am sure that during the debate other points will be raised, and many contributions will be made. If the House desires, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will intervene to pick up some of the, threads and answer some of the questions.
The party opposite brought the Act to fruition we are proud to build on 265 the foundations which they laid. We would all recognise, I hope, that training is a long-term investment, which will pay off progressively in the years to come. Therefore, not only should all those who play a part in promoting industrial training be encouraged by the fact that they are contributing to the productive efficiency of their industry and the nation, but all those who participate in training are making life richer for countless numbers who are benefiting because of the efforts deployed in training.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
The Minister said that the Committee had given him and his Ministry much food for thought. This was obvious from the length of his speech. I make no complaint about this, since it is a compliment to the Committee that he should give us today such a considered commentary on our study. On behalf of those of my hon. Friends who were on the Committee, I would say that it was a happy Sub-Committee of the Estimates Committee, due, I think, mainly to the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Greenwich—
§ Mr. Hamling Woolwich.
§ Mr. Lewis
On these Sub-Committees, we forget each other's constituencies and think only in terms of Christian names, which I am not allowed to use in the House. If anyone doubts that that was a happy Committee, I would say that we are still serving on the same Sub-Committee together, considering something a little different.
Just before the debate, I heard from the British Federation of Master Printers that they were a little concerned at not having been called to give evidence to the Sub-Committee, although we heard one of their member firms. They need not consider this a reflection on them, since we had a choice to investigate many firms and organisations. However, since the Federation seem to think that people outside might consider that they have done nothing towards training, I must say that we certainly do not believe this—I take their point. They want it to be known that they have kept comprehensive manpower statistics over the year and have made many inter-firm comparisons of performance, They also 266 have the good work of the Institute of Printing, which has done a great deal for training in the industry. If that helps them to feel better, I am sure that the Committee and the Chairman would agree that it should be on the record.
This Report arose out of the Industrial Training Act, 1964. Before that, there was little legislation on training apart from the Redeployment and Training Act of 1948 and the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act of 1958. The 1964 Act broke tremendous new ground. Both sides of the House were very happy with it and I had the pleasure of sitting on the Committee which considered it. It was the basis of a revolution, in the right hon. Gentleman's word, in commerce, in technical work, in apprenticeships and management. It was long overdue.
I felt, as the Chairman did when we began our consideration, that we were being a little premature, but I now am sure that it was a good thing to consider how the boards were operating this soon after the first was set up in June, 1964. Anyone who reads the Report must do so recognising that our consideration of this matter came early. I would like another look taken at the training in three years to see how things are going, since this would be good for the boards and the House.
Before the Act, training in British industry at its best was very good and many of our firms offered the finest training opportunities in the world. However, over a large section it was indifferent and over too large a section, at the bottom, it was non-existent. The bottom strata were prepared to poach skills by raising wages and not paying a "transfer fee". Meanwhile, they offered no training and did not contribute towards the training of their employees. Thus, the levy grant system which the Act introduced was to even out an unfair and inefficient system and promote more and better training.
This levy grant system is not a tax; we should make that clear. We did not intend to impose an extra tax by that Act. It is quite proper that right hon. Gentlemen should also make it clear that this is not a tax The levy system must be taken together; with the grants. If some look on it as a tax because they are not susceptible of receiving a grant, 267 then they must prefer the old system of the poacher who does not pay.
The Act achieved three main things. First, it secured an orderly expansion and improvement of training generally through the training boards, which are representative of industry. Second, it brought the expertise and some of the money of Government, through the Ministry of Labour, into the provision of better training. Nothing which has happened to the Ministry in recent years has been better than the introduction of the Act and the creation of the boards, because this gave it an area of work which will develop and do great good.
In case it is thought that too much Government money is going on this at the moment, it should be recognised that rather more than £100 million—the amount is growing—comes from industry and, up to now, £6½ million from the Government. There is scope for more Government money here, though I do not suggest that the Government contribution should ever become anything like that of industry.
The third achievement of the Act was that it began for the first time to involve our educational institutions, creating better instruction, better trainees and an increase in the number of trainers. This co-operation in industry between education and the Ministry of Labour has long been desirable and this work is being brought to fruition by the advancement of the boards.
There is, of course, the danger that when setting up organisations of this sort one may create a bureaucracy. The fact that the boards are independent—although they receive a certain amount of Government assistance and nudging occasionally —should lead the industries concerned to watch this bureaucracy. Each board should be kept under scrutiny by industry; industry would be right to complain if it is felt that an over-bureaucratic organisation, containing too many administrators doing work unconnected with training, is being set up. It is always difficult, when dealing with an industry which is a mixture of large and small firms, to ensure that this does not happen. Industry, must be sure that it does not occur and. firms must not just pay the levy and opt Init.. They must take a keen in 268 terest in what the boards are doing by way of training.
Apart from the need to avoid bureaucracy, two other rules must be considered by industry and the boards. First, each board must recognise that it needs its own pattern. While it can learn from boards which are already operating in different industries, it must create its own pattern and be distinct. What is done by one board applying to one industry need not necessarily, and probably will not, apply to another.
Secondly, once a board is set up it must have the right sort of chairman. We had a considerable discussion in Committee about whether the chairmen of boards should be full-time or part-time. I am convinced that the chairmen of larger boards should be full-time. Such a job could not be undertaken on a part-time basis, particularly in the early stages, if a board is to get off the ground properly. The task may become a part-time one later and, for the smaller boards, a part-time post may be adequate. Perhaps a chairman who is doing a limited amount of work elsewhere would be ideal for the smaller boards.
Having pointed out the need to prevent a bureaucracy being formed within these boards—and, to a large extent, this is a matter for the chairmen and members of boards—we must consider what went wrong with the agriculture board last week. We had two nights of interesting discussion on this topic and it seemed likely that the board had set on its journey too quickly. I believe it should take six months or so for a newly created board really to get going. The agriculture board might profitably have sat back, for perhaps a year and, instead of calling for the levy, have used the Minister's money. It should have taken time to look round. It is entitled to do so under the Act. Newly formed boards are entitled for at least a year to use money provided by the Minister. Instead of that, this board quickly having set itself up, started moving It should have used the Government's money.
§ Mr. Lewis
If it used the right hon. Gentleman's money, then it was obviously using it for the wrong purposes. The board clearly was intent on creating 269 a system of industrial training in agriculture which was not acceptable to the farmers. Something might be acceptable to the N.F.U., but if it is not acceptable to the farmers as a whole it is of no value. If this is done too often the appeals machinery under the Act will be swamped and boards will never get off the ground. However, many lessons can be learned from the efforts of the agriculture board and I hope that that board has also learned some lessons from this exercise. Perhaps the path it has set can be somewhat retrieved.
Any new board should seek advice from the widest possible sphere, including the Central Training Council, the Ministry and other boards which have already had experience. Some might say, "Boards must not proceed too slowly in the matter of training", but while it is possible to proceed too slowly, it is also possible to proceed too quickly. It cannot be expected in about three years to make up the neglect—where there has been neglect; there is not neglect everywhere in British industry—of 20 to 30 years.
From the point of view of the Ministry, good communications downs the line through the boards in industry to individual firms is vital. If boards become not only bureaucratic but remote, they will run into trouble in their industries. In Committee we had an interesting discussion on the working of the engineering board and whether there should be a proliferation of inspectors. It was pointed out that one can have too many inspectors. This also applies to agriculture. If boards try to inspect every little unit every year there will be too many people involved in this and the whole system will become a nonsense. Spot checks are probably the best way of handling this matter.
The Committee was also concerned about the availability of trainers of trainers. It is important that we have an adequate number of people able to instruct instructors so that the best people go into the field to give training in the best techniques. These instructors must be efficient and, at the end of three or four years, must be able to provide the best skills that can be made available to British industry.
270 Such people are in short supply. However, many people over the age of 55 are coming out of industry through redundancy. Some of these might be the best people to put through technical colleges and crash courses and make them into trainers of trainers. A new life could be given to many of these people who are made redundant and they could pass on the benefit of their many years' experience in industry.
The Minister asked for comment on the Central Training Council. I believe that the Council should remain as it is—advisory. It has not been going long enough for a change in its functions to be made. I suggest that it be left as it is for another three to five years; then changes can be considered. If it is possible for the Council to make an impact through its reports all down the line in industry, it should not be necessary to give it executive functions. I should be surprised if industry as a whole ignored the reports presented by the Central Training Council. It is a Council which can and should influence, but it would be a mistake if it were given too much executive power.
The Report shows the value of the Training Act but it shows up one or two deficiencies which exist in the direction in which the boards are going. I am not sure that there is much impetus for management training or that we shall get it while the boards are so concerned with apprenticeship training and technical training. I wonder whether it would be a good idea to have a special board for management training. Management is common to all industries. This is something which might be considered, although I am not entirely sold on it.
§ Mr. Hamling
I hope the hon. Member will not be discouraged by the disclaimer made from his Front Bench. B.A.C.I.E. is on his side and not on the side of the Front Bench.
§ Mr. Lewis
One puts up things which may be knocked down. It is more important to make suggestions than not 271 to make them in case they may be knocked down. I was glad to hear about the increase in Government training centres. I agree that much of this retraining has to be done by industry itself but it is equally important that we should see that it is in fact done. Someone has to see that industry is tackling it. Someone has to see that after chaps are retrained they are acceptable by the unions in their new jobs.
There have been some rather bad instances of lack of co-operation in this matter, although I accept that there have been a large number of men who, after being retrained, have been accepted. We shall have a big problem in the next few years when 30,000 miners become redundant and 5,000 of them will be young enough for retraining. When we add to this that other old industries are running down and the demand there will be for new industries, it will be seen that this will be a formidable operation.
We should think in terms of whether there should be shift working at training centres. Again, I am not sure that the pay is sufficient for a married man. He has to be fully covered before he goes to a training centre when he is leaving his wife and family at home. The pay has been increased, but I am not sure that it is sufficient to make him happy about going away to be retrained. I said that the Act is the basis of a training revolution and that we as a Committee were happy to have a look at it. There are those who would probably still say that in setting up training boards we are setting up further bureaucratic institutions; they will say that there is not very much wrong with British industrial training. But we should look at what has happened in the last few days over the trawlers from Hull.
I do not think there is a board for that industry. It may come under the Agriculture and Fisheries Board. It is an industry in which boys are sent to sea at the age of 15 or 16. The Minister has spoken of the need for training for a year or two off the job, but this is a case of training on the job and apparently of training immediately on the job. It has been shown that there is great risk involved and that apparently going to sea in danger is part of the early training—I think too early. This may be an 272 extreme example, but in too many facets of industrial life there is inadequate care taken in getting the right training. I think this Report was well worth while doing and I hope the House will think it well worth while looking at this whole subject.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
Before coming to my main point I wish to allude to one or two matters which were raised by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). I endorse what he said, which has been echoed, about the need for emphasis on management training. Specialisation in management is growing, and continues to grow. One of the needs of training is to get the all-rounder to accept the proposition that certain fields in which he has thought himself to be adequate in the past are fields in which the specialist alone can make an adequate contribution. Attention should be paid to encouraging the specialist to play his part and to be accepted where he is wanted.
I also endorse what has been said about the extravagant amount of time taken in apprenticeships. Even with the reductions to which reference has been made, I cannot accept that it should take as long as has been alleged to train a fully-fledged, competent, 100 per cent. skilled worker. I have not looked into the position lately, but not long ago I discovered that there were certain rules in the trade unions which demanded that if someone was to be accepted as fully qualified and skilled he had to have completed his apprenticeship by a certain age. I believe the age was 21. If at 22 he were to go through all the training, he would not be acceptable because of union rules. I hope that someone will look into this undoubted restrictive practice which ought to have been removed long ago.
§ Sir S. Summers
Yes, I do. All I am anxious to do is to remove any upper age limit which might block the opportunity for those who want to embark on this training.
I am certain that agriculture cannot opt out of the whole business of increased training facilities with the aid 273 of a board, but there is one marked difference between that industry and others which, perhaps, is not always recognised. It is an industry where manpower is continually decreasing and it will continue to decrease, whereas a great many other industries are crying out for additional manpower, particularly skilled manpower. That makes a very important difference.
I come to my main point, which is the whole purpose for which training and retraining should be considered. The hon. Member for Woolwich, West said how important it was that there should be adequate thinking in advance of the purpose for which the exercise is arranged to make certain that it went in the right direction. I hope, therefore, he will support me in saying that there is a strong case for regarding training, particularly retraining, from a new point of view.
The Report brings out the fact that originally industrial training had for its motives primarily social considerations. It was thought desirable that special arrangements should be made to train the disabled and those coming out of the Forces. The second stage is perhaps best described as having the economic motive of making more efficient those in a particular industry by ensuring that they were given adequate training so that they were more effective as they grew up. To a large extent, this is still the motive underlying the work of the various boards.
There is now a new purpose which is not always given added consideration. The new purpose is the desire to make redundancy respectable and acceptable by providing places to which men who are no longer wanted in the job they have had for some time can go and acquire a fresh skill.
The Minister said in this context that retraining was especially appropriate for redundant workers. This is true, but there are tens of thousands of men who are not called redundant but who, in fact, are redundant in the jobs they are doing. This is partly the fault of management. It is partly the fault of old-fashioned ideas in trade unions. It is perfectly absurd that every skilled man should have a mate to himself. There are all sorts of demarcations and limitations which increase the amount of manpower required for a project. If common sense were to prevail and these 274 were swept away, great numbers of men in almost every factory and office could be transferred to other work. In other words, there is a vast amount of concealed employment or semi-employment which is not available at present. In view of the present unemployment figures, this is rather understandable.
In this aspect of the subject we are discussing today is to be found the key to getting Britain out of her economic troubles. This is why I want the whole. business of retraining to be given far more important consideration as an in dispensable pre-requisite to getting down to cheaper costs of production and getting down to the right numbers of men employed, because men will be more willing to be made redundant if they have genuine opportunities for learning a new skill.
The Minister told us that by 1970 there would be 13,000 places at training centres, meaning an output of more than 20,000 trained men. This is fine, but I am not sure that even this is enough. I underline very forcibly what my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) said about the inadequate pay of those at Government training centres. Much of the work they do may not be saleable and there has therefore been a tendency hitherto to take the view that the country cannot afford to pay more than very low rates to these trainees. The average wage is now £21 a week. As many people who would like to go to these centres have been in the habit of earning high wages. perhaps in semi-skilled employment, they just cannot contemplate dropping to the pay levels referred to in the Report. I am not sure that a man with a large family at today's unemployment pay would be much better off if he went to a Government training centre and took the pay prevailing there. It would be a very good investment substantially to increase the pay at these Government training centres so that people would be encouraged to go there.
The recent Act making available substantial redundancy pay whether or not the redundant worker got another job, the following day has undoubtedly eased the situation of those for whom transfers ought to be made. The arrangements under the Contracts of Employment Act have perhaps had the opposite effect. 275 The provision of more retraining facilities, and increasing the pay for those at Government training centres, would be two ways of making a notable contribution to bringing about the change of attitude which is indispensable if we are to make any progress towards getting the numbers down to a really efficient and economic level.
When unemployment figures were very much lower than they are now, it used to he said that one of the great handicaps in improving efficiency in British industry whilst unemployment was as low as that was that there was not adequate discipline, in that a man knew that if he lost his job he would have no difficulty in obtaining another one quickly and therefore he took little notice if somebody put the screw on, so to speak. There was a good deal of truth in that. The present high unemployment rate may have done something to improve this aspect of discipline, but it has brought its own difficulty in that people who ought to be transferred will not be transferred because there are already so many unemployed that their prospects of finding another job have become more difficult.
One of the reasons why I deplore some of the measures the Government have taken over the last six months, the consequence of which has been to increase unemployment, is that they have made it more difficult to improve efficiency in industry by arranging to transfer large numbers of men to other work.
I therefore hope that great stress will be laid on retraining and that it will be recognised that retraining large numbers of people can make a notable contribution to improving efficiency in British industry, because, until the numbers employed are brought down by deliberate acts of management, with the co-operation of the men concerned, our costs will be unduly high in comparison with other nations and we shall fail to achieve that increase in exports which is indispensable to success.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. R. F. H. Dobson (Bristol, North-East)
The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) has made a very generalised attack on one side of the problem without taking into account several of the other sides of the problem. Several 276 of the recent Government measures have resulted, not in a tremendous increase in unemployed amongst the manual classes, but in an increase in unemployed on the managerial side. That is where there has been the greatest difficulty in obtaining new employment.
I thought that the hon. Gentleman intended to stress the problems created by what he described as the old-fashioned outlook amongst trade unionists. These attitudes are gradually changing. The sooner they change, the better it will be, in the view of many of us on this side. I am sure that in the end the hon. Gentleman will recognise that we should all applaud and appreciate this process of change.
I join in paying tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). I, too, served on the sub-Committee, which was very friendly and dedicated to its job. It had to make a detailed study in some depth in a very short time and I hope that the House will appreciate my hon. Friend's valuable work in directing our attention to certain lines.
The Report can probably be dealt with adequately under two headings: First, the Government training centres, and, second, the Industrial Training Act and the industrial training boards. It is true that the Government training centres are performing a remarkably good service. They have been doing so for a long time, and it looks as if what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said today augurs well for their future. Of course, they work under some difficulty. One thing that bothered me was not only the numbers of people in training but the long waiting lists which still exist. The figures of the numbers of people in certain trades awaiting training show that there is a very large delay. Nine months is much more usual than unusual.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Would the hon. Gentleman give us a couple of examples of the sort of trades where there is such a waiting list?
§ Mr. Dobson
The building trade is one, A training centre in one particular area is a case in point, and I believe that on the engineering side there are several long waiting lists in various parts of the country. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will 277 give us more information. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman appreciates that I am not exaggerating when I say that far too many people are waiting too long for the sort of training which can be done very well in the Government training centres. Part of the problem is the physical one of buildings, but there is also the question of wage rates for instructors. Until the Pay Research Unit comes up with its own rate of pay for instructors in Government training centres, we shall always have difficulty in obtaining the people for the job.
There is a problem in selecting people to undergo training. Sometimes almost an arbitrary decision is made as to whether a person should be retrained, and I am not sure that we can always select the right people to be training officers in the Government training establishments. The choice is difficult, but sometimes we turn away people who could make a very valuable contribution.
I was very impressed by what the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) said about people who are redundant at the age of about 50. It would be very useful to tap that source of workers, thus getting the best of all worlds—experience and knowledge of handling people, and giving them a sure and steady job for the rest of their working life in industry, with which most of them have probably been involved all their lives.
In our short but fairly decisive exercise on the question of whether trade unions were blocking entry into their skills by people leaving Government training centres, we found that that does occasionally happen. But when we examined our expert witnesses from the Ministry of Labour we heard of difficulty in only one area and one particular district in it; that was in engineering. I hope that that augurs well for the 40 or so trades about which we are talking. If the trade unions cannot adopt a realistic attitude—and I speak as one who has been a member of a trade union for well over 20 years—failure to do so may in turn redound on the people who block those leaving the centres, if they are not lucky. Such blocking should be deplored by most hon. Members.
If I had to specify one way in which I think that the Government training centres are possibly lacking, it would be 278 that while the 40 or so trades which they attempt to encompass are very valuable, I did not get the impression that we were looking into new skills and trades very much inside them. Experience shows that a person who did a trade or skill in the old way can encompass the new way shown to him. But I should have thought that a tendency to break with the old way of training is probably a better means of achieving results much more quickly. I hope that new thought will be given to what could be done in the training centres to see that through.
Judging from what my right hon. Friend said, he seems to have a very good record not only on the numbers of people going through the training centres and the way in which he has developed the centres but also in the way in which they have been spread throughout the country. That was a useful way to make a contribution to industrial retraining, and the new figures he gave us were very encouraging. They go a long way to meet the charges made in a recent economic debate by the Leader of the Opposition, who challenged the amount of training now being done. What my right hon. Friend said today meets that challenge.
I did not think that the method of selection for entry into the Government training establishments was particularly valuable. It is a very good thing to offer semi-skilled men training for a skilled capacity, but very often they have to be unemployed or have been declared redundant before having the opportunity to do so. I believe that many of them would have welcomed an opportunity to achieve a new skill before they lost their old job. While many people understandably want training when they have no job to go to, and it is right that they should be offered the opportunity to acquire a new skill if they are the type who can do so, it is wrong that we do not offer the same facility to semi-skilled men who genuinely desire the opportunity of training for a new skill.
I felt that the Industrial Training Act was very good, and it has proved itself in the short time that it has been in operation by the number of people who have been brought on in training. It is true that it got off to a slow start. I am not sure that the Ministry's priorities 279 are always right in setting up the Industrial Training Boards, but I accept that this was a very difficult task, and there was a pattern of difficulties that would have come up from a whole series of people. Indeed, the levy grant system certainly raised its own problems.
I did not really take the rather sanguine view of hon. Members opposite about what they termed the "growth of bureaucracy" or, rather, perhaps the lack of growth of bureaucracy in the boards. Paragraph 33 of the Report shows that, in the Engineering Training Board, out of 637 people employed no fewer than 449 were administrators and not trainers and that, in the Construction Board, out of 433 employees no fewer than 247 were administrators and not training officers. I know that it is extremely difficult to set up a board in this way and that the Engineering and Construction Boards have been the most difficult to set up and organise a levy grants scheme for, but it seems to me that there has been the wrong emphasis and I hope that boards will learn from this experience.
The chairmanship of a board is all-important and we were right in our opinion that there should be full-time chairmen for the very important boards and part-time chairmen for the smaller ones. The selection of the chairman of a board is vital to its work, as is the selection of its senior officer. It is difficult in many cases to find a chairman who has the time to give to work of this kind.
The need for management training has been mentioned, and I endorse what has been said. It is a difficult subject and I do not altogether follow the need to improve the management training pattern of a board. The boards set up should be looking to management training in their own industries. The management pattern changes inside an industry, even in the engineering industry, where there are large and small and many different types of unit. However, even in engineering there must be a large area of common expertise of management which could be obtained by a person. I do not know whether it would be a good thing for someone in engineering to have the opportunity to manage in the construction industry or the woolen jute industry if it were in a type of work remote from that 280 which he was doing before taking his training.
For example, one wonders what relevance work in the civil air transport industry would have to the training of managers in the engineering industry. However, no doubt the boards could do this if they set their minds to it, but there is the prior need to set the bottom categories of work right first rather than to look at management training, and the Report brings out strongly our feeling that there is need to look elsewhere first.
My right hon. Friend asked for comments about the Central Training Council. I still feel that its structure is not particularly good for the type of job it has to do. Professor Lady Williams said that the members of the Council were not entirely sure about this either, but that they were all new boys and girls and wanted to see how things were run. I accept that view readily but we shall need to watch the structure of the Council to see how it is able to operate.
The status of the Council also needs to be considered. I do not think that it has the correct status vis-á-vis the boards. I do not necessarily want it to have full executive power over them, for that would be going too far, but it should have more advisory control over what individual boards are doing, although I accept that this would be difficult to achieve in practice. But there should be some way of putting the Council into the position in which it can more readily influence the setting up not only of the boards themselves but the way in which they will do business—for example, the levy grant and the way it is operated, the number of people in training, the priorities of training, etc. I know that the Council does this in an advisory capacity through the Ministry, but there is need to change its status in this context.
That is evident in the way we can see training generally in industry developing. If we go on as we are, we shall merely have the C.T.C. with virtually no power to influence in some detail the sort of things going on in the Industrial Training Boards while yet being partly responsible for the way the Act is being operated. That is not a good thing either for the Council or for training in industry.
I accept my right hon. Friend's view that we should have s review in possibly 281 another year or so, and certainly before the term of office of the present membership expires, which is in three years' time from last May. The Council should remain independent of the Government but it should not be too remote from the boards themselves and should have more power over what they do and the way they do their job.
What is the future of industrial training? There are several things we should discuss in this debate. First, my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West referred to an "army of snoopers" being employed—I thought this rather a slang term—to see the standard of training in industry. But there is a need constantly to try and raise training standards. I do not believe that one can set minimum standards yet— indeed, I hope that we never do so in that way—but we have to make qualitative assessments firm by firm and industry by industry of the training being carried on by the boards. That aspect must be developed powerfully.
Secondly, there is need to improve communication between the firms and the boards under which they work for training purposes. The evidence given to the Committee showed that if a firm was large enough or had an educational establishment beforehand, its opportunities of getting to someone on the board to talk about its problems were many. But for the firm which was too small or did not know the ropes, the chances were very much reduced. While the hoards themselves thought there was a fairly good run of information to and fro, I got the impression that there was need to improve communication between the boards and their firms.
Thirdly, I concluded that there was need even now to look to changes in the methods of training. There are many methods which could be used in industry which are still not being used. I agree on the need to reduce time of training. Both sides of industry should be persuaded of this. The Government cannot do this; it must be one of the principal jobs of the boards in future.
We must still increase the scope of training inside the boards, because I am not sure that we know the right way yet to tackle each different type. There are many areas for example, computers in 282 which there is a massive need for training and little is done except by individual firms for commercial reasons. If part of the cost can be met by the Government, they will accept it, but this needs to be considered. I do not know whether it is a job for the C.T.C. or the Minister, but it must be done because we will in future depend largely upon the new technological advances and industries. If we can do all this, industrial training will be improved to the benefit of the firms, the Government and the people.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Holland (Carlton)
I wholeheartedly supported the passing of the Industrial Training Act, and lost my seat in the following 1964 election, though I do not suggest that there was a connection. I then became personnel manager of an electronics company and for the next 18 months wrestled with, among others, the problems attendant on implementation of the Act. It was a sobering and thought-provoking experience. I did not change my view that the Act was right in conception and objective. I still believe that, but at that end of the scale I took an increasingly angry view of the way in which the Engineering Industries Training Board seemed to be functioning. I am glad to see that this excellent Report endorsed my view that the Board had its priorities, as well as the industry, confused.
My first-hand experience dates only to the spring and early summer of 1966, but until then it seemed that the Board was more interested in empire building than in stimulating the right kind and quality of training for the industry's future needs. We were not endeared to the Board by the long delay between the collection of the levy and the payment of our first grant, though, to be charitable, we hoped that was probably just teething trouble.
Nevertheless, far from stimulating our training programmes, which were highly sophisticated, it seemed to us that, owing to the difference between the costs of training per man and the amount of grant allowed for training per man, it was worth while to try to ascertain the optimum level of training to achieve a minimum additional cost, in other words, what would be the economic level of training to sustain the objectives of the 283 Board. The answer which we received indicated a reduction in our existing training programme and a shift of emphasis to the lower from the higher skills. Of course, we did not reduce our programmes and did not shift the emphasis because we were training the people whom we needed in the business.
Thus, the attitude towards a balance between levy and grant simply became an acceptance of the necessary expense and had no impact on training policy. This is how the idea grew up in many companies that this is a tax. Whether the balance of levy over grant was to be absorbed or passed on to the customer was outside my province, but I have no doubt that it has to be passed on ultimately if there is an extra expense.
Those who defend the Engineering Industries Training Board say that to start with a large-scale operation, to bite off more than can be digested, to start as one means to go on, shows commendable courage, but I share the view of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) that it is easy to be bold with other people's money. Not only has the Board apparently placed its own top-heavy administration higher on its list of priorities than the training needs of the industry, but there have been examples of what appear to be quite glaring inequalities in its treatment of one company as against another.
Two or three weeks ago, an East Midlands businessman told me that he had an engineering firm employing about 300 people and that between 10 and 12—currently 10—trainees were learning on the job. His first grant was just over 100 per cent. of his first levy; his second was 93 per cent. He was very pleased, but told me that a large West Midlands engineering company with which he was closely associated and which employed between 5,000 and 10,000 people, with highly sophisticated training schemes and a separate training school for training off the job—a practice which the Minister commends—received only 56 per cent. of its levy back in grant.
Although I was not speaking directly to those in the large company and therefore could not check the facts, it seemed to me that the important thing was that an industrialist working under the auspices of the Board was prepared to 284 believe this. That shows the attitude of some industrialists towards the Board and the treatment which they expect to receive from it. The fact that this was credible is the important thing, not whether it was 56 or 66 per cent.
It will not surprise the House to learn that, from my experience, I warmly endorse the second recommendation in paragraph 68, and would couple with it the seventh recommendation, dealing with the Manpower Research Unit of the Ministry—not only, as the recommendation suggests, to find where re-training can best contribute to redeployment, but, as I would like to see, to provide the individual I.T.B.s with valuable comparative information on future trends, not only in their own but in allied fields.
The Report reaches no firm conclusions about a change in the powers of the Central Training Council, but expresses doubts about its present advisory nature and reserves judgment. I am not sure that the Council's powers of persuasion are an effective substitute for some—although seldom used—permissive powers of direction. I know that the Minister has misgivings and has challenged us to explain how this would operate in its relations with the boards. It would obviously be foolish to try to give a snap answer, but problems are there to be solved and where there is a will they can be solved.
I should like to give a case in point. In September 1965, the Council published its Memorandum No. 2 entitled "Industrial Training and Training in Safety." It was an admirable little pamphlet, dealing in an understanding and enlightened way with accident prevention and the urgent need for safety training at all levels. It also stressed that safety training should be an essential part of all formal training schemes. I wonder what effect—these are questions and I am not prejudging the matter—the memorandum has had on the activities of the boards and what incentive has consequently been given to companies and colleges of further education to extend their training courses to include positive safety training, and by how much safety training in industry has increased as a result of this memorandum.
Could not more have been achieved here if the Central Training Council had 285 had the power to give instructions that these proposals should be implemented? These are serious questions and, if the direct answers are not available, I should be grateful for views on the principles involved.
On the question of management training I have somewhat mixed feelings that are not altogether in accord with the great enthusiasm shown in the House on this subject. I was responsible for a management training scheme for some 18 months recently, and in my experience the successful production of promising managerial material depends more on the initial selection than in the case of applicants for almost any other form of training. It is probably true to say that with patience on the part of the instructor and enthusiasm on the part of the student a craft can be taught, scientific facts and technologies can be taught, the tools of accountancy and methods of administration can be taught, but the qualities of leadership so necessary to success in management can not.
Whilst training can make more effective good potential managers, the only cure for poor management is not education but a pretty ruthless axe. I am not trying to suggest that management training should not be developed. I am not suggesting it is not important in its place, but we should not regard it as a panacea for all ills in management or as a substitute for the axe in the case of poor management.
On the subject of retraining, I am sure that in retraining for redeployment the Government training centres set a good example and to some extent supply a need, but they do suffer from two disadvantages. First, for some reason—I am sure we can all think of reasons why this happens—they do not appear to be able to attract enough people for retraining to take full advantage of their capacities in the areas in which they are sited. I understood the Minister to give the figures for the places, but not how many of the places were filled. Can the Minister tell us whether the proportion of people who wanted retraining is as high as one could hope for in the last 18 months? If the position has changed I am delighted.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North East (Mr. Dobson) recorded the figures given by the Minister as the number of 286 trainees being retrained, but I think he was under some misapprehension there.
The other disadvantage is that these training centres are incapable of rapid expansion when the need arises, not only for the reason of the time it takes to build buildings but the time it takes to staff them. They tend to lack flexibility for expansion according to national needs. For a long time, since the Second World War, as the Minister knows, we have had "Training Within Industry" and I should like to see this given a further shot in the arm for the period of massive redeployment on which we have already embarked. I should like to see encouragement given for development of Government-sponsored but industry-based T.W.I., not directed, as recent grants were, to the development areas specifically, nor directed at industry generally as T.W.I. was, but rather directed at the growth industries to which we want to move the redeployed people. Whether the Government end of this would be in the form of some grant or allowance or some incentive to the growth industries to expand I do not know. The form it should take is a matter for discussion and consideration.
Retraining is already carried out in many companies, but I think it requires co-ordination and concerted effort and the focussing of attention where it is needed most for the people to be redeployed and the areas into which they are to be redeployed.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, may I say a word of congratulation to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and his Sub-Committee on their well-reasoned and very readable Report. May I particularly congratulate the Sub-Committee on reaching conclusions which in most cases accord very closely with my own views on the matter.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Haseldine (Bradford, West)
I should like to associate myself with the good wishes expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) to the Minister on the progress made with the Industrial Training Act. The Report we have read and the speech we have heard assures us of continuing progress in this field.
In my constituency we are at the centre of the Wool, Jute and Flax Training Board, and I was pleased to hear the Minister pay a tribute to the wool textile 287 industry which, before the setting up of this Act, had developed its own training within the industry. When one bears in mind that in the City of Bradford 29 per cent. of the working population are connected in one way or another with textiles that shows the foresight and anxiety of those engaged in the industry, even in earlier days, to ensure that efforts were made to help in terms of industrial training.
In the last Report published by the Board I was interested to note that, in the levy and grant system, 94 per cent. of the levy was returned to the industry in the form of grant. In matters of this kind we appreciate that a measure of flexibility is important. In terms of relief the Wool, Jute and Flax Industry Training Board in 1966–67 based its levy on two rates and the Parliamentary Secretary will confirm that in the current year, after interesting discussion the levy is on five levels of rate within the industry. I believe that has already been enacted, but I think it is very important to bear in mind.
Emphasis has been laid, particularly in the Report of the Estimates Committee, on the training for trainers, and here again, speaking initially in terms of the Wool, Jute and Flax Training Board, the Report informs us that no fewer than 10 colleges have courses coming up to the board's standards. These are separated throughout the country but are particularly strong in the wool textile region of Bradford. I have had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of this Board and I was particularly impressed by the qualities of the executives and their dedication to their jobs.
As has been mentioned this afternoon one of the important considerations in the Industrial Training Act was to ensure that there was pooling of the costs and moreover that this pooling of costs would in fact avoid the poaching of trained personnel from other factories in a region. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that in my own constituency we have come across an anomaly which in fact would encourage poaching. It concerns a firm engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of textile comb pinsetting job.
The hon. Member for Carlton talked of the empire building of the Engineering 288 Board. I have not the experience to make such assertions, but, nevertheless, the Engineering Board has claimed that this organisation is within its purview.
§ Mr. Holland
The Board has created for itself a large top-heavy administration which the Report shows is out of proportion to the number of training staff it has acquired.
§ Mr. Haseldine
The hon. Gentleman will agree that one is capable of being misunderstood if one uses the wide term "empire building". I think that it would be wrong to charge the Engineering Board with empire building. It seems to me that it has a very efficient scheme for employees in engineering. The problem is that the firm is involved not with engineering, although metal is worked, but because the pin combing is part of the textile industry. The whole of its business is geared to the textile industry. The only comparable operatives in this field are those in the wool textile industry engaged in the mills in maintenance, and if the job cannot be done properly in the mill it is passed to this firm to do it.
The Parliamentary Secretary has accepted this argument. I know that he has taken a great deal of trouble to refer this matter to the Wool Textile Board so that it may look at it. However, if the Engineering Board insists on training these people, the great anomaly will arise that the employees will, in effect, be attending courses which are entirely different from their normal day-to-day occupation. We should then be training people in the firm's time to learn the full skills of engineering at the technical college and then finding that the firm paying the levy to the Engineering Board is deprived of the services of its employees because they have entered a wider field of training.
Another anomaly which I came across was this. The Engineering Board claims that because a firm which manufactured large signs was working in metal is was subject to the Board. If it is accepted by the Ministry of Labour that an anomaly exists concerning the firm with which I have been involved and which is already paying a levy to the Engineering Board, I understand that a Statutory Instrument will be necessary, which will take a considerable time. Already; time 289 has passed. It should be possible to take speedy action when anomalies arise. I know that we have periods of training to bear in mind, but I plead with the Minister to find a way of getting rid of anomalies quickly when they are discovered.
Because of my interest in the retail distributive trade, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to indicate that good progress is being made with the Board for retail distribution which is to be set up. I hope that, as in other cases, my right hon. Friend has been able to recruit people of high calibre and wide knowledge of the industry to serve on the Board. I plead for an early announcement in this connection, because it has been well said within the retail industry that once there is a training board or the industry it will do a great deal to uplift morale within retail distribution. Morale is low because one tends to look upon those in the retail industry as the left-overs. There is a tremendous career for young people in retail distribution, but there is certainly a great gap in management. I am sure that in the very near future a tremendous number of people will be involved in the two training boards for retail distribution. I hope that the Minister will indicate that the date of setting up the boards is not far distant.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will forgive me if, having resisted the temptation to speak after the Minister so as to hear hon. Member's contributions, I now make the sole Front Bench intervention from this side of the House.
I must introduce into this very agreeable debate a few critical remarks about the Minister's speech. However, I should like to hold those remarks until the Minister returns, which I think he courteously intended to do when he knew about the time at which I would try to speak. Certainly I would presume to make no criticism whatsoever of the very thoughtful speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) or of the Report in general.
I think that one might make out a case for claiming that perhaps the investiga- 290 tion of the working of the training boards could be considered a little premature. On the other hand, although many of the problems and anomalies can be discounted as being due to teething troubles. it is not perhaps too early to identify features which could, if allowed to continue, become dangerous. That is why the emphasis of my hon. Friends the Members for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) and Carlton (Mr. Holland) and by the hon. Member for Bristol, North East (Mr. Dobson) on the dangers of a bureaucracy was appropriate.
We must bear in mind that it is not just the number of administrators on the boards by which we can measure bureaucracy, because each administrator probably ties down two, three or four full-time people in business and commerce if one aggregates together all the man and woman hours taken up in corresponding and arguing with the bureaucrats—I withdraw the word "bureaucrats" because it is mildly pejorative—with the staff on the training boards.
I should like to tell one story to illustrate one of the dangers of an Act of which we on this side of the House are very proud and the difficulties of a precise performance of the requirements of some of the boards. I asked a great industrialist what the experience of his firm was in administering the Act. He said:Imagine that there was a wedding on a beach of sand and shingle and you were required to sort the confetti from the sand and shingle into piles of identical size and colour. That is what administering the Act comes down to. My staff are spending man and woman months proving precisely how many individuals were spending how many 40-minute periods in how many classrooms on how many days to the satisfaction of, often, several different boards.The pursuit of perfection in accuracy leads, perhaps, to an excessive administrative cost. The speeches we have heard bring out that danger, and also the danger that firms which specialise in skilful form-filling rather than the quality and quantity of actual training may gain from the grant provisions of the Act. We must remember that even though the levy percentage, or even the net cost of the levy minus grant, may appear minute in proportion to the total turnover of industry, it can be a highly dangerous proportion in terms of the margin of profit available to industry.
291 We, the authors of the Act, must bear responsibility for something that could be more expensive than it is worth, but we have absolutely no evidence to lead us to believe that it is proving anything but a useful Act, of which we can be proud and of whose fulfilment we are glad the Government are taking advantage.
The Minister having been good enough to come in, I should now like to make the sole criticism that will appear in my speech. We welcome the increase in training centres that the right hon. Gentleman announced. One of his back bench colleagues said that the increase disposed of the call made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for a greatly increased scale of training and retraining, but I would rather imagine that the response of the Minister and of the Government has something, however small, to do with the series of speeches my right hon. Friend has made. Be that as it may, my right hon. Friend will, I am sure, welcome the increase in training places, but will still say, as I think the whole House will, that the Government have a considerable distance further to go. Indeed, the Minister himself gave that impression.
I was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not take the chance of this debate to put the whole Report in a rather wider context, to set industrial training and retraining against the background of education as a whole, and to spend rather more time on the relationship between manpower forecasting, the functions of the market and the duties of Government. Finally, I regret that he did not tell us more about the problem that worries many of us, which is whether we are to find in this country, as there has apparently been found in America, a growing technological redundancy of the unskilled, and of the elderly, both on the shop floor and among executives.
Having made those criticisms, I cannot cavil at the amount of detail the Minister gave us. We recognise that the Government have functions in training, but I was glad to hear that, for their part. the Government recognise that the bulk of training and retraining must always be in industry.
Before considering the progress of the Act and its administration, we must ask 292 ourselves towards what sort of economy we are working. My own view is that we are, slowly perhaps, sporadically perhaps, but definitely moving towards a service economy built on a base of a well-managed, highly co-operative and rapidly adaptable labour force in industry and commerce.
I emphasise the service nature of the economy because—as the analysis of the trend of labour in this month's issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette again proves —despite Professor Kaldor and the Selective Employment Tax, that sort of economy uses less and less labour not only in agriculture but also in manufacturing and that more and more of the manpower and womanpower of the country goes into the infrastructure, distribution, leisure activities, and the like.
I have emphasised the three features of good management, co-operation between management and worker and the rapid adaptability of the labour force. Looking abroad, this is the lesson we learn from countries like Sweden. Sweden has nothing to teach us about the central wage bargain, which is entirely nullified by wage drift. What Sweden has to teach is the benefit that comes from good management and co-operative labour achieved by good industrial relations. It is the lesson of flexibility and good management. I therefore agree with several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Woolwich, West that almost at the heart of this problem of training and retraining is management.
Not everyone can be trained into a good manager—good managers are born, not made—but management training can mature, improve and even transform promising management material whatever the age at which it —if I may for a moment refer to human beings as "it"—left school whatever the accent with which it speaks, and whatever the background from which it comes. I believe that the main stimulus to good management is the market economy, with competition and incentives. But, having said that, I still believe that institutionalised management training can do a power of good.
I wish to brag once again that I was a co-founder and the first chairman of the Foundation for Management Education, which was set up by a number of enthusiasts in 1958 and which has been 293 the chosen instrument under, first, a Tory, and now a Labour Government for spending money on the Business Schools—half the money coming from industry and half from the taxpayer.
Management education has become recognised, even fashionable, but I believe that there is a dangerous proliferation of cooks meddling in this particular broth. I hope I may be excused for claiming that the Foundation for Management Education was in at the beginning and has the right, particularly as custodian of moneys from Government and industry, still to interest itself in the subject. I note with respect that the C.B.I. has set up a committee under Mr. John Partridge, which has a very proper standing. But when we come to the Government, we find so many Ministries involved that I wonder whether there should not be some kind of sort-out.
We have the Treasury. We have the Department of Education and Science. We have the right hon. Gentleman's own Department, the Ministry of Labour. I believe that that adjunct of No. 10 Downing Street, Department of Economic Affairs, is now staking a claim in management education. The National Economic Development Council has set up a committee on the subject. It was only for this reason that I ventured to shudder when my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford suggested that we should have a management training board. There are too many bodies. I suggest that one Ministry should really grip the whole subject.
Whichever Ministry it is ought to look at the effectiveness of some of the management training that is going on. I believe that the technical colleges, which do so very much good in so many fields, do not yet have the qualified staff to undertake management training; and that the rate of drop-out is a little worrying. I am not sure of my facts here and speak with some diffidence, but I believe that with the shortage of skilled teachers as a limiting factor in management training the Government should husband the teaching resources there are and see that they are not wasted by being stretched too thin over too many institutions sponsored by too many different Ministries.
Good management—of which, as the Minister said, we have in this country a 294 very substantial share, though not, perhaps, enough—will, as we increasingly spread it, solve many of our training problems, because good management will identify skilled needs as far ahead as intelligence can predict—which is not always very far in this rapidly changing world.
Good management will recruit appropriatepeopleand carry out policies of manpower development which make training, and adaptation by retraining, welcome to the man and no burden on the economy. The better management is, therefore, the less the Government will need to do, but the Government must create, as we on this side maintain, an economic climate of competition and incentives that encourages good management
The question that the Government should try to answer, and which the Minister did not even approach this afternoon, is the relationship between education training and retraining. Certainly in the immediate future, in the short-term time scale, there is an urgent job for training boards and for industry in training and retraining.
More and more, however, as we move towards the sort of economy which, I believe, lies ahead, the answer will lie in the recommendations of the Plowden Committee. It is on the improvement of primary and then secondary education that the future adaptability of the labour force really depends. My hon. Friend the Member of Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) was quite right in stressing also the need to improve the post-school training, whether we call it apprenticeship, vocational training or career training.
What we need after boys and girls leave school surely is a broadly-based education oriented to adaptability and versatility instead of to one narrow skill. The hon. Member for Woolwich, West was so right in being shocked by the idea of a man or boy being destined for life at the age of 16 to one narrow career which may become obsolete. I was glad that the Minister emphasised that also.
The narrow training of one skill for life and the fact that this is the accepted norm for so high a proportion of our population is surely at the source of much of our inflexibility and of much of the conservatism which imposes such 295 obstacles to the growth of prosperity. I hope that we can, therefore, have open-ended post-school training so that people can respond to altered skill requirements. The Engineering Industry Training Board deserves all our congratulations for conceiving the idea of the module, as an instrument which allows for adaptation during life.
Surely, the time has come for the Government to prepare the education—that is, the Plowden operation—and the post-school training to be the base for a more modular concept of training and retraining for careers.
I should like to pass from that general argument to the obstacles to movement to which retraining is meant to be a part answer. I hope that the Government will not allow themselves to forget the importance of pension transferability. I am sure that they will not allow themselves to forget that, however much they improve training and retraining, there is still a grave housing problem which impedes mobility and which stops men who are made redundant in one career from pursuing the career which they prefer.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West, made only one grave error in his speech, and that was in talking about the inflexibility of farmers. If business and commerce as a whole had achieved anything like the growth of productivity that farmers, helped by chemists and engineers, had achieved, we would have no balance-of-payments problem. The adaptability of the farming industry has been one of our major post-war achievements.
I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies to the debate, he will comment on what I have said about the Plowden operation and about the open-ended post-school training, and will also tell us a little more about some of the obstacles, on which his right hon. Friend scarcely touched. Is there any serious blockage by district officials of employment of dilutees? We recognise that national union organisations are on the side of the angels. We know the problems in dealing with district officials. What proportion of the graduates from Government training centres are now blocked by district official recalcitrants? Obviously, we cannot expect a precise 296 reply, but can the hon. Gentleman give us a scale of magnitude to see whether there is a serious worry or merely a pinprick here?
Secondly, will the Parliamentary Secretary tell us something about how the Government see the ladder of opportunity? We cannot expect very highly-paid men made redundant in one career gladly to welcome retraining for a much lower-paid career. A face-working coal miner who has earned high pay might conceivably welcome a lower-paid but safer and less irksome and unpleasant job, but, broadly, it should be easier to redeploy a relatively low-paid railway worker into a career which is marginally better paid than a higher-paid coal miner. The ladder of opportunity which we should like to see stretching right from the unskilled labourer up to the doctor is a concept which is a little academic.
Can the Government give any idea whether they are finding that one of their major difficulties is that people whose jobs are made obsolete in one career could find only less-well-paid work through the Government training centres or through industry? I hope that that is not true, but we should like to hear a comment upon it.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary give a breakdown of the likely use of the training places in Government training centres that the Minister foresees in 1970 —a throughput of 23,000 a year—as between adaptation courses, courses for the disabled, upgrading courses from semi-skilled to skilled and upgrading courses from unskilled to semi-skilled? Can the hon. Gentleman spare a word to tell us how the Minister's experiment in career advice for adults, which, I believe, is on a selective basis in a few employment exchanges, is going? We should like to hear how this fits in with the general Government training centre strategy.
I now turn to manpower forecasting, on which I was glad that the Minister spent a little time. The Economist did us all a service in its admirable analysis of how Japan is tackling its economic problems. I do not know whether many hon. Members read the article on Japan's labour policy. What the Japanese do is to identify sectors in which men and 297 women are earning very little. They say to themselves, "Here is low consumption because these people are low-production workers. Let us try to transfer those people who are low paid, because they are producing relatively little, into sectors where they will be higher paid and, therefore, able to earn and consume more."
In Japan, that is done by a sort of series of pressures, by links between the banking system and industry, a sort of banking feudalism which we could not have in this country even if we wanted it. It starts, as far as one can see, at a crucial identification of what my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury was talking about—the surplus of manpower, which, in many cases, is reflected in relatively low pay.
We all know that if we try by means of minimum wages to raise the pay of the lowest, we probably only eliminate a large number of jobs which will be mechanised. That is not the route which I am suggesting. I suggest that if we allow the market to work with a proper compassionate safety net that both sides of the House want, the market itself will to a large extent perform the function of shifting people from lower-paid jobs to higher-paid jobs.
I am not trying to hot up the politicial temperature of the debate, but I believe that, if we could abolish the bitterness of the past, which we cannot, and if the railways were in private hands, railwaymen would be fewer but much better paid and the public would be better served. I do not expect that to be accepted by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is an argument for what the market will do if left to itself with the compassionate safety net.
On manpower forecasting, there are real difficulties even in a firm or industry and, therefore, in an Industrial Training Board in predicting what are the skills which will be short in the future. Some shortages are man made; that is, resistance by some trade unionists under some managements to the effective use of all the skills available. Those are man-made shortages which good management and possibly some legislation can reduce. Then, some shortages are eliminated by "deskilling" operations by management; they are by-passed. Some shortages are 298 real shortages of skills which emerge very fast with new technologies and are themselves rapidly overtaken by the speed of change in those technologies.
I doubt whether even the best equipped Industrial Training Board can look more than five or possibly eight years ahead. Therefore, unless we adopt the modular approach, we are in danger of retraining a man with an expectation of 20 years with a skill which may only last 10 years. We come back again to the modular approach. Then there are the shortages of skills such as medical and teaching which require long training and for which the normally redundant of those who are surplus, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury said, cannot directly be trained themselves.
We welcome the increase that the right hon. Gentleman has announced in the Government training centres. We recognise that there is a big job for the Government and for industry to do. But we agree with the Minister strongly that the statistics of job vacancies, the definition of actual jobs or the job analyses, should be greatly improved before the work of the boards or of industry in manpower forecasting can go very much further.
I come now to the other matter with which the Minister did not deal and should have done. Given the removal of all the obstacles and assuming that either in industry or in G.T.C.s there are adaptation and conversion courses, will there be left an increasing number of relatively low I.Q. people who are made redundant from firms that increase their efficiency and require more I.Q. in their employees, and who will not be able to retrain for well-paid employment? That is the experience in America, where admittedly there is a racial problem to complicate matters, but does the Parliamentary Secretary think that we face anything like that?
Perhaps we are frightening ourselves by this ambiguous word "skills". Some skills call for high I.Q. Some skills, or perhaps I should say some crafts, do not require such high I.Q. but, rather, some knowledge and pride in the job. If we are to be a service economy, a prospering economy, with more and more people having the spending power to eat out and with more tourists coming to the country, why should we not take pride in having a first-class catering industry, with men 299 and women proud to be waiters? Today, it is considered a relatively suitable form of employment for immigrants. There is nothing wrong with immigrants in this context, but I believe that there should be a skill and pride in being a waiter, that does not call for enormously high I.Q., and I wonder if the Ministry has identified other forms of employment which will expand as the country does what we hope and increases in prosperity and which will be sources of decently paid and honourable work for members of our community who are less gifted in intelligence; or are we to expect the problem which America is finding?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to spare the time to say something about the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford. The growing periods of unemployment to which the elderly, whether from the shop floor or management, are vulnerable in an era of merger and takeover, must be a source of great unhappiness to increasing scores of thousands of households. I do not have any glib answer. I wonder if the Ministry has given any attention to it.
If we become more and more a service economy based on a more productive manufacturing industrial base, we can expect enormous growth in health, education and welfare. I hope that that growth will come from private as well as from public sources. Whether it is all public, all private, or, as it probably will be, mixed, we expect there to be a great explosion in health, welfare and education services. To what extent can some of the people who change their careers in midstream and who do not have higher intelligence be found honourable places in the expanding welfare, health and education, leisure, distribution and service fronts?
To sum up my argument, we think that training and retraining has a first priority and that the steps initiated by us in the Industrial Training Act and carried forward by the present Government are the right ones and are very welcome. However, parallel with it and on the middle-term as opposed to the immediate time scale, it is vital for the future prosperity of our labour force to carry out the Plowden recommendations to improve 300 primary schools, and to improve post-school training by making a much more effective open-ended career apprenticeship to which adaptation can be added by the modular system.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
Like many other hon. Members, I feel that the conclusions and recommendations in the Report are perhaps a little premature in relation to the industrial training boards. I think that the Committee has done a useful interim job, and if I appeared to be a little critical of a statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) a little earlier, I am sure that he will realise that it was about his statement and not his whole speech. However, I think that that kind of statement is made too readily and easily by far too many people.
I concur in the views of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have said or implied that we are all inclined to knock British industry in far too ill-informed a way by large sweeping generalisations which a moment's examination would show to be patently untrue. We are all guilty of it, and I have done it myself.
§ Mr. Hamling
I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that I speak as one who trained apprentices for some years.
§ Mr. Robertson
I accept what my hon. Friend says. I hope that, in turn, he will accept that I was an apprentice and worked in industry for some time. I was a trade union organiser who had apprentices and apprenticeships very much in mind for a number of years. I was deeply involved in industry for a long time, and I have yet to see a situation such as he described.
However, the Industrial Training Boards have been doing a very good job of work. They have been catching up with the main deficiencies in training which were all too commonplace in pre-training board days. They will be able to catch up with the poachers and at least make them pay if they do not make them train. They have been doing a great deal of work in this connection. They have also, although not so well in the short period they have been in existence, organised group schemes whereby the small firms can give much better and more varied training.
301 It is not true that the majority of firms, even in engineering, are large firms. The majority are still small firms which, in the range of their products and work, are not able to provide very wide experience. Therefore, they require to be part of a group scheme to give decent training to an apprentice. The training boards hive been catching up in these two respects. They have also been bringing up the standard of training to a good average, and this is a good thing.
However, there have been negative sides. I agree with the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) —I am referring to the engineering training involved—who suggested that there is a trend towards bureaucracy in relation to the Engineering Training Board. I have experience of a fairly large group of employers on an industrial estate near my constituency. They wanted to open their own training school within the industrial estate. They could provide the instructors and were prepared to carry out the work, provided they got the necessary grant from the board. However, the board was more concerned with setting up a vast scheme to serve the whole of the West of Scotland. I think that it went wrong there. I should imagine that one of the first jobs of a training board is to encourage industry and groups of employers to supply their own training—not to build an establishment and go into this job if it is not needed. I still believe that unless industry provides the training, no training board can do the job.
Concerning the question of apprenticeship and the discussion about the length of training being irrelevant, I defy anyone to say that training ever stops. One never stops learning. Although one might say that training stops at three years, the young man who has undergone that training—call him what you will—will continue working and learning just as he does now. The only difference is the amount of money he receives when his training is finished. The argument about the length of apprenticeship is not whether ore needs three years or five years or two years; it is when that trained man is to be paid the full rate for the job. Under agreements in the engineering industry, one is not entitled to receive the full rate until the age of 21.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
There is a great deal of truth in what the hon. Gentleman 302 is saying. Would he also accept that when there is a long period of apprenticeship there is a tendency to waste the first year or 18 months, because it is known that an individual can be trained in three years instead of five? The argument that the hon. Gentleman is adducing on wages should be put to the employers through the unions, that it is not in their interests to continue paying apprenticeship rates at the age of 21.
§ Mr. Robertson
I was never able to forecast what an employer would think, and I would not even attempt to do so now. I would not like to say whether an employer, knowing he has a man for five years, would go easy in the first two years. I must have worked for a good employer, because that was never my experience. One had to work from the very first year. My complaint of prewar days was that very often an apprentice was put on piece work and he worked too darned hard in the first year, as well as the last three years. Thank goodness those days have gone and no good employer asks that today.
A very good example was given by the hon. Member who said that there is now an emphasis on training away from the strain of the job. This is the kind of trend that we want to see.
Coming back to the length of training point, the trade unions have repeatedly asked the employers to reduce the period of apprenticeship and also, at the end of his apprenticeship, that a man should be classified as skilled and receive the full rate for the job. This demand is preventing a three years' apprenticeship agreement in the engineering industry. It is like the question about the man from a Government training centre being employed in engineering. It is wrong to say that there ever was any difficulty about a man from a Government training centre being employed in engineering. There are difficulties if he wants to be a tool maker in six months or if he wants to be an inspector or a maintenance engineer. The reasons are simple. First, the definition of a skilled man in the engineering industry, according to the Scottish Engineering Employers Federation, is a mechanic who has served five years' apprenticeship. Anyone else going along to a job does not receive the fully skilled rate.
§ Mr. Robertson
I agree that it is a stupid definition, but we cannot get the engineering employers to agree that whoever goes on a job should be paid the money for it. That will solve this problem. We have tried for the last 20 years, to my knowledge, and we cannot overcome it.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
I am following closely the point made by an ex-colleague of mine in the trade union world, but is it not the case that there is in existence the dilution agreement, made during the war, under which any man accepted by a trade union and management to do a job is paid the rate for the job?
§ Mr. Robertson
I was coming to that. My hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell has taken my point. It is a pity that he has spoilt my story. No matter, I will deal with it as I go along.
I want to deal now with the point about the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. They are the only three categories in engineering for the purpose of wages. There are many types of skill, but only three categories of workers. The fact is that if a trade union agrees to put other than a skilled man on a particular job, the employers claim the right to pay him less than the skilled rate. Let no hon. Member tell me I am wrong, because so often we have found this to be so by bitter experience. We have agreements in engineering and I will give one example. Setters are paid a rate above that of unskilled labour because of extra responsibility. We agreed with one firm in Motherwell that setters who had served for a long time should be allowed to work a set machine. What rate did they get for the job? Only a penny above the labouring rate! The trade union would not agree to that. They will not agree to this kind of thing until we get the employers round to the idea of fixing a rate for the job. Let the job determine the rate; not whether a man has served an apprenticeship of five years, three years, or no apprenticeship, or has come straight from the coal face. That will solve the problem of the trade unions and of my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Robertson
This has always been A.E.U. policy. In 1946 we applied to the Engineering Employers Federation for a new wages structure, but nothing was achieved. Another application was made in 1950, but again without success. In 1956, yet another application was made by the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions for a rate to be established for the job. I know that my right hon. Friend has the greatest difficulty in dealing with that part of the country from which I come. We train a far greater proportion of apprentices than are trained in England and Wales, as I saw the other day in an official Scottish Office publication. This is traditional. About 65 per cent. of the people in engineering, other than labourers, are not time-served. Who defines whether their job is skilled or semi-skilled? How does one define this? Our argument is, and always has been, that these jobs call for varying degrees of skill. In engineering the term "skilled" or "semi-skilled" does not define the job. It defines the rate of pay for it, and consequently the trade unions are a bit sticky about it.
Semi-skilled people enter a training c.entre—for example, the one a Motherwell—at a fairly early age. They go through a process of training, from drilling, to working complicated machines. If, after receiving six months training at a Government training centre, a man is put on to a skilled job which a semiskilled man in the firm was hoping to get, naturally there is trouble, not from the skilled men in the firm, but from the semi-skilled man who sees that he has lost his chance of promotion.
§ Mr. Gunter
I do not think that my hon. Friend understands what is happening. No one would expect a Government training centre trainee, after six months' training, to do what my hon. Friend suggests. He would go back to the industry from which he came for further training.
§ Mr. Robertson
With respect to my right hon. Friend, I suggest that he does not know what is going on at his local training centres and his local offices. He does not understand why local trade union officials are being difficult, and sometimes unco-operative. I am in close touch with the situation in Scotland. I 305 know what is happening in my town. I know that, without consultation with the trade unions, people are being sent by the Ministry of Labour to do skilled jobs in preference to men who have been in the industry for many years, and who were hoping to get these jobs. This is happening today, and is one of the root causes of some of the problems.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that because of the different historical background in the Midlands and the south of England there is a tendency for men with only a few weeks' training to enter industry and do many jobs of what is called a semi-skilled nature, whereas in Scotland, work on capstans, milling and production lathes, and so on, is done by skilled men? This leads to complications as between Scotland and England.
§ Mr. Robertson
I would not agree with my hon. Friend's list, but what he is saying is true. There are differences not only between Scotland and England, but between different areas in Scotland, and, indeed, between different areas in England. In South Wales the situation is viewed differently from the way it is viewed in, say, Coventry, and on the North-East Coast there is yet another outlook. A certain flexibility of approach is required in accordance with customs, traditions, and practices in each area. All these people can be brought into engineering. There is plenty of room for them, arid nobody will object to them, provided that no attempt is made to give them the top jobs after only six months' training. If they do get these jobs there is hound to be trouble.
Another negative aspect of the boards is that if there is a training board for each industry, there is a tendency to provide a narrower type of training. If there is an iron and steel industry training board, it provides training only for that industry, whereas very often the work done by maintenance men in general engineering is similar to that done by engineers in the iron and steel industry. There should be greater flexibility in training. This problem was raised by one of my hon. Friends who talked about the wool industry. I think that it would be a greater anomaly to restrict the scope of a man's training to an industry than to 306 do what the board was trying to do in relation to the job described by my hon. Friend.
We should train engineers to work in the iron and steel industry, in shipbuilding, or in general engineering. Training should be carried out on an occupational basis, because the basic skills used by maintenance men in the iron and steel industry are similar to those used by men in shipbuilding, and in large sections of general engineering. This can be done if the boards recognise that there is a need for some interchange between them to enable men to receive a wider training than any particular board would be prepared to give.
In my day, a young man started his apprenticeship in the shipyards on Clydebank. He then went on to sea-going vessels, and on completing his training he went into general engineering, by which time he was extremely capable and experienced. This was the traditional training. He acquired a great deal of experience and knowledge, and this is still the kind of craftsman that we require today, but because of these Industrial Training Boards the experience gained by young men is narrower than has traditionally been the case.
Many arguments have been adduced about the need for skill, but in the engineering industry a great deal of the skilled manpower is under-employed. Why should a man, just because he has served an apprenticeship for five years, and has the title of a skilled man, work at a skilled job when he can earn a good deal more by working at a semiskilled job? The Prices and Incomes Board's Report on wages and earnings in engineering showed that there was no significant difference between the earnings of a semi-skilled man, such as a machinist, and a fully-skilled man. Many men who have served apprenticeships, and have a great deal of experience, work on jobs far below their capabilities because they can earn a great deal more money by doing so. This is another nonsense which must be removed from industry.
I remember, as the divisional organiser of my union, going to Greenock because I had received a complaint that engineers were being paid 4d. an hour less than an engineer's mate. This sort of thing should not happen, but it happened there. 307 We held a yard conference and a local conference but failed to agree, and a six-days' strike was necessary to get the engineer 1d. an hour above his labourer. This will happen; why would someone go into an apprenticeship if he could do better elsewhere? Therefore, while we are talking about training—
§ Mr. James Hamilton rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that interventions prolong speeches and several other hon. Gentlemen still wish to take part in the debate.
§ Mr. Robertson
I agree that this has gone on a little, but many hon. Members have drawn me on. Discussions in this House on training and trade union attitudes are more noted for their lack of information than for any good they do.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)
First, I thank the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) for the thoughtful way in which he presented this Report, and his Committee for its studious work. One of the strengths of a debate like this is the lack of partisan expressions of opinion and the genuine concern of both sides for a subject as important as any discussed in the House.
However, I entirely dissociate myself from the remarks of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson) who in no way fairly represented the industrial picture in that part of the world which both of us have the honour to represent. I wish to associate myself rather with the interventions of the Minister which clearly illustrated to the House and the country that there is a forward look in labour relations which has unfortunately failed to penetrate throughout the country—
§ Mr. John Robertson
The hon. Lady said that I do not represent the opinions of trade unions in the part of the world from which she comes, and I would agree. She comes from Stirling, I believe. However, I do represent opinion in that part of the world which she represents, since I was a full-time officer there for nearly 20 years, far longer than she has been working in the area.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Believe me, Mr. Speaker, I have cause to be only too well 308 aware of the position which the hon. Member has held for a number of years in the area which I have the honour to represent.
One subject which is of especial constituency interest to me and which illustrates the practical difficulty of working out schemes under the Industrial Training Act is referred to in the Report. This is within the scope of the Engineering Industries Training Board, which is one of the largest. In the constituency which I represent, in the Hillington area, there is a particular consciousness of the modern emphasis on adequate training. This is so because Hillington is the largest training estate in Scotland and because the Government training centre is there.
I will not refer to the placing of trainees. I think that we have all recognised in the last few minutes how this comes to be a problem, even if we had known nothing about it before. But I pay tribute to the work of the Government training centre in retraining and in training for training officers. Often with limited resources, very good work is being done.
However, not surprisingly, in that area there are no fewer than 70 engineering firms which are too small fully to fulfil their own training arrangements. Therefore, 21 joined to form the Hillington Engineering Training Group, the formation of which was encouraged by the E.I.T.B. both in London and in Glasgow. Shortly afterwards, this group was joined with two neighbouring training groups to create a viable unit. This means that the training potential and resources of no fewer than 35 firms were put together. The number of boys requiring training under this group is about 70 and a viable unit can be created from a training potential of approximately 30 apprentices. The potential throughout the Hillington area could comprise as many as 250 young people. I am talking particularly of the off-the-job training to which the Minister referred, which many of us believe of especial importance.
On the subject of costs— I know that the Parliamentary Secretary has corresponded with me about this and that he is well aware of the position—a group of this size has offered a considerable amount of money in addition to that gathered to it from the levy. The amount is about £18,000. It employs, and has 309 done from an early date, a well-trained training officer who, again with limited resources, has done very good work. But if to establish a 60-place school costs about £50,000, surely it is not impossible to imagine that, along with the levy, the voluntary contribution from this group of industries and the Government grant, it would be possible to create a separate centre for numbers such as I have described.
In addition, it is possible in the Hillington area to find a vacant factory which could be suitably equipped and which would once more reduce the cost of building a centre from scratch. Many people have referred to the bureaucratic aspect of wishing to create units entirely within the control of centres rather than making full use of the facilities which may be available in such places as a trading estates. What this group wants and has always wanted is a centre to itself over which it has control, and this seems a logical requirement.
It must also be the requirement of many such groups set up under this structure with the object of adequate and off-the-job training. It is true that there are other centres, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not fob me off with that. I shall be well content it he skips replying tonight, providing that he gives me a rather better answer in writing than I have so far received.
Thus, it is not enough to say that there will be extended places at other centres and that the numbers will be catered for in the ways which the Minister described earlier. The whole purpose of training adequate manpower is the securing of better training, and this is clearly indicated in the Report.
Adjacent to Hillington there is a substantial training centre. The Parliamentary Secretary told me that the Scottish Pipework Engineering and Allied Training Group manages this centre and has vacancies in it. This is another problem in this scheme, because the number of vacancies at this centre is greater than the number of boys who immediately require places in a training centre in the area.
The main part of my argument now can be divided into two sections. The first concerns boys requiring off-the-job training right now. In the Hillington 310 area only eight boys are getting the advantages of full training—that is, only eight of the 45. In the other two smaller groups, only four of the 20 who are available are getting full training. These are disappointing figures and provide a disappointing factor for Scotland. It is important for the future of Scottish industry that youngsters in this age group are adequately trained to the maximum possible skill.
I will not be led into discussing the question of who employs skilled labour once it is trained. Suffice it to say that in the West of Scotland we are moving towards the position when skill is recognised as being vitally necessary and that skilled manpower is probably the greatest requirement for the future of industry throughout this part of the country. It follows that there is a strong case to be made out for this training centre.
The second part of my argument is this. I accept that good training is given in certain sectors of industry. For example, in the craft and technical industries there is a common course of training in the first year between the two apprenticeship requirements. But a different attitude is adopted towards the job itself at the end of the day. It is difficult to describe this briefly. I can best sum it up by saying that my contention strikes at the very root of the policy of manpower training because, having said that the emphasis required in the West of Scotland is for skilled labour, we must go on to consider the opportunities that exist in industry and the changing pattern of that industry.
Mercifully, this pattern is changing particularly since we in the West of Scotland have suffered for far too long from an overload of heavy industry which flourished through the last century. We have also suffered from the redundancies which have inevitably occurred in this type of industry during the last 15 years. We are now looking forward to the time when we in Scotland will have a new type of industry which, of necessity, requires a new approach.
I agree that there must be flexibility in training and it may be that, in the interests of flexibility, a common form of training for a wide range of apprentices is reasonable in the first year. However, my argument is that a distinction must be drawn between the type of training 311 given in the very early stages as well as the type given later, particularly bearing in mind the heavy engineering approach to this matter and the approach which is required by modern industry.
It is in this context that we find a profound difference in attitudes. One need only look into an old industry to see how methods and conditions of work have changed. One finds many situations which we hope will fade out as different industrial patterns develop. One sees the advancement of the white coat type of industry. Here, the approach is entirely different and conditions of work are, happily, a great deal better.
Consider, however, what happens when we are training apprentices from, say, an electronics factory, the very latest type of industry with the best arrangements for both work and conditions. These apprentices find themselves in a predominantly old-fashioned engineering atmosphere while they are being trained. That first year can spoil much of the training that has already been given in these boys' own factory and the sort of attitude of mind which they are supposed to develop cannot prevail when they return to their modern factory.
Our great struggle in Scotland has been, and is, to get rid of this old atmosphere—the atmosphere created by an emphasis on heavy engineering. It must be our common duty to promote a new attitude and to move towards light engineering instrumentation and the electronics industries. Happily, this new atmosphere is developing in Scotland.
Much has been said about the need for there to be an adequate say in the management of this training. It is, after all, reasonable that a group such as I have described, skilled in engineering, should wish to have a direct say in the training of its apprentices. However, in the West of Scotland we have a substantial group, comprising the 70 firms I have mentioned, with no direct say in their apprenticeship training. This is something which the Board, which is comprised of distinguished people, cannot be expected to consider at group level—and I am deliberately concentrating on this level tonight—because this is an arrangement of work which the Board cannot be expected to look into on an individual basis. It 312 is at this point that we lean on the skill of the staffs at the various levels engaged on this work. At these levels we must find a better liaison and a more determined attitude to arrive at the right answers.
It is not unreasonable for one to want to know how one's money is being spent, wherever it is being spent. That is precisely what these people want to do. There is a proposal to have a single management committee for group training in the West of Scotland. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to it as being not in the West of Scotland but on Clydeside. This seems a practical approach. It is suggested that it be based on S.P.E.A.T., which seems reasonable. It would serve an area within a seven-mile radius, would cater for a complement of 250 first-year boys and allow for a specialisation of training which is not now possible.
This suggestion seems to meet some of the training objectives which are urgently needed in the Clydeside area and which the Engineering Training Board must have in the long term if it is to train to the standard of skill at which the Act aims. Of equal importance is co-operation and flexibility, and this must be seen to be possible so that the training groups—which are about to pay their annual subscriptions for the second year—can sustain their initial enthusiasm and know that their financial contributions, which are often in excess of their basic requirements, are being well spent.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
I wish, at the outset, to compliment the Estimates Sub-Committee for providing us with an excellent Report and for giving us this opportunity to discuss what I consider to be one of the most important matters to come before the House.
The memorandum submitted by the T.U.C. General Council to the Committee was an important contribution. I wish to concentrate on the case presented in paragraphs (5) and (6) of Appendix I of the Report, which sets out the argument for a Central Training Council having its own staff to develop industrial training, rather than for this job to be left to a Government Department, as it is at present. I share the view of the 313 T.U.C. While in no way derogating from the magnificent work which the Ministry of Labour staff has done, I think there is a strong case for an independent central body.
The Estimates Sub-Committee, in Recommendation No. 4, clearly showed the need to improve the Central Training Council. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that there was a need to look at this in the review. I hope that it will be accepted that the need is for executive function and the necessary staff to carry out that function.
The Departmental observations of the Ministry published in December emphasised that the Minister does not wish to use the powers of direction given to him by the Industrial Training Act, except of course on matters of very major importance where the normal process of consultation and discussion has failed to achieve acceptable results. It appears that the Minister thinks the boards will succeed only if firms are confident that training is run from within industry. It would therefore seem that the Minister intends to give the boards as much freedom as possible to look after their own affairs. Without a strong central body with full executive powers over all the boards, improvements in industrial training are likely to be slow and marred by inefficiencies.
I do not think any hon. Member present would dispute that as a nation we need a rapid deployment of manpower. Particularly in the North-East of England we need arrangements for men from the declining industries such as coal mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering to be trained for employment in expanding industry. I am afraid that some of the pain which has been e experienced in some parts of the country must recur in the months that lie ahead. Unless the Government introduce Goverment-expanding industry in development areas, the only source from which industry can come to those areas will be from the prosperous areas further south. In my area we badly need co-ordination of retraining facilities in view of redundancies. All these matters are badly in need of co-ordinating through and by a central body. The Ministry of Labour is not necessarily the best agency for the tasks to which I have referred.
314 In referring to the statistics in the Report I am sorry if I engender a little political heat into the debate. I cannot help but notice that in 1951, when the Labour Government lost office to hon. Members opposite, there were 80 training places in my region and 80 people in training. That was run down by the Tory Government, shamefully run down, to 12 training places in a region which badly needed it to be built up.
§ Mr. Brown
Page 29 of the Sub-Committee Report, Table B. This number was run down by 1959 to 12 training places and only nine were actually taken up. By 1962 hon. Members opposite realised the folly of their ways and decided that industrial training centres needed expanding. So there was the provision of 81 places. We reached precisely the position we had been in 11 years before. Compare that with the present position under this Government of 715 places, 627 of which are providing training for people who need retraining.
In the 13 years when the Government was formed from hon. Members opposite we had one industrial training centre in the Northern Region. I am pleased to say that at present there are three and we shall have two more within about a year. The T.U.C. General Council is firmly of the opinion that industry generally would respond more readily to leadership given by those within industry itself. This would apply all the more if those concerned were seen to be acting independently and had the power to support exhortation or admonition with discriminating financial inducements.
I have put down two Questions to be asked of the Minister later this month. Naturally I do not want to anticipate his Answer. The Questions refer to the closing of a colliery. Knowing that colliery closures are pending, the Ministry should be doing something now, long before a colliery closes, to determine how many men will require industrial training. I am asking the Questions in these terms about the North Wallbottle Colliery in my constituency. When it closes there will be no colliery in my constituency, where previously there were seven. So far as I can see, the Ministry of Labour 315 has done nothing to determine whether any of the men employed in that colliery will require retraining. I hope that I have been very uncharitable to the Minister and his staff and that they have in fact taken steps in this matter. I hope that in future they will give serious consideration to seeking out those who need retraining and making sure that places are available for them to be retrained.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
The hon. Member has quoted the figures correctly, but in fairness he would probably agree that the figures bear some relation to the extent of retraining required and to the unemployment rate at the time to which they relate. In fairness that should be taken into consideration when any figures are quoted from these tables.
§ Mr. Brown
It absolutely astounds me that the hon. Lady should have the temerity to make such a suggestion about the number of training places which the Tory Government made available and their relationship to the unemployment situation. I do not forget that in my region in February, 1963, we had 7.3 per cent. overall unemployment. In 1962 there were 81 training places and we had got back to precisely the situation of 11 years previously. If that was good Tory contingency planning of which we have heard so much in recent weeks, it does not impress me.
The present programme of expansion provides for only 48 G.T.C.s, with 12,200 places and an output of 21,000 trained men annually by 1970. I certainly do not advocate a set up based on a percentage of the working population, such as Sweden has, but if the T.U.C. is even remotely near the correct figure when it suggests that 600,000 workers per year will have to change their jobs because of redundancy or for some other reason, I believe that the G.T.C.s will make a very small contribution to adult training. We have a desparately long way to go. I hope that the Government will reconsider the extent to which they intend to expand the training programme.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham)
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Bob Brown) mentioned the problems of coal miners and the redundancies caused by the closure of a mine. He rightly urged that training 316 centres should now be set up so that the displaced miners can be retrained. A further difficulty is that many of the coal mines which are in peril are in development areas. The factories which are invited to set up in places within development areas employ a large proportion of women for the very skilled kind of work which they engage in. This is one of the many problems with which the Ministry has yet to deal, but I entirely agree that the Ministry must give its full attention to establishing sufficient retraining centrse to cope with men displaced from coal mining.
I want to add my congratulations to those which have already been extended to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) and his Committee on the clarity of their Report, I cannot say that I would agree with the conclusions that appear in the Report, in that that I do not think that they go far enough. The hon. Gentleman made very kind references to some of the Minister's observations. The hon. Gentleman is well known for his propensity for cooing like a dove and never allowing an angry word to pass his lips, but hospitality and friendliness can be carried a little too far.
I thought that the Minister was rather complacent about a number of matters, to which I hope to refer. If I concentrate my remarks upon the experience in other countries and on making international comparisons, this is because I have recently returned from a study of the French system and the French retraining programme and this is uppermost in my mind. It is all very well for the Minister to say that we tend to run ourselves down too much in making comparisons with other countries. I dare say that there is this tendency. It is also unwise to suggest that we are always right in everything we do and that naturally we have a better performance than any country which is competitive with us. I do not believe that this is so.
My reason for saying that I think that the Minister was a little complacent is evidenced in the Report, because Mr. Turner, Under-Secretary in charge of the training department, said this on behalf of the Ministry in the matter of foreign comparisons:However, I am sure that if somebody invited us to send an observer to the Training 317 Committee of the E.E.C., we would be glad to respond.We are entitled to expect the Ministry and its officials to have a shade more initiative than that. I hope that in future a constant number of civil servants from the Ministry will be travelling about and making certain that there is nothing that they can learn from other countries. I believe that they can learn quite a lot.
Another reason for my saying that the Minister was complacent arises from something said by the hon. Member for Bristol, North East (Mr. Dobson).
§ Mr. Hamling
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not overlook the valuable work which is done by the Ministry of Labour through the I.L.O., in which this country has been well in the van for a generation or more.
§ Mr. Hordern
I was not seeking to decry that. In fact, I would go further. I think that the information is available. I used it myself when I was in Paris. The Foreign Office has an excellent Labour attaché there. I am sure that there are labour attachés in other countries, too. The advice is certainly available, but I do not believe that the Ministry uses it sufficiently.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North East expressed the view that there were many men in industry waiting to be retrained. This is evident from the Report. The Committee points out in paragraph 58 thatthe Instructor Training Colleges are having great difficulty in maintaining sufficient instructors.In paragraph 60 the Committee says that the grants made by the Ministry and by the Boardsmay be inadequate for the purpose.In paragraph 61 the Committee says this:There will obviously be a shortage of chief instructors in Government establishments if their maximum salary is over £200 less than that of their equivalent in a technical college. Immediate steps must be taken to remove this difference.This was the Department's observation on that:These grant arrangements will continue to be kept under review, but they are considered to be on a satisfactory scale and further increases do not seem to be necessary at present.318 I do not believe that that observation can be justified. I believe that the Committee would be justified if it felt that its advice and the evidence it has brought before the House has been spurned by the Minister. The Minister should be asked to look at the matter again, to examine the evidence properly, and to draw up other observations.
In dealing with the training of trainers and the inadequacy of the present arrangements, Mr. Fletcher, of International Publishing Corporation, touched on the most vital aspect of the whole Report. He said in answer to Question No. 789:I should have thought the Government's money could best be spent in some kind of effective wage support to see that people are transferred from dying industries to growing industries or from dying skills to growing skills.In answer to Question No. 792 he said this:It seems to me that there is a gap here in the training programme of the nation.The Committee picked up this point in the recommendation it made in paragraph 65:At the moment there does not seem to be the machinery for encouraging the effective retraining and redeployment of labour which is desirable. The Industrial Training Boards are not equipped to consider this problem, concerned as they are solely with training within their own industry, which in many cases like shipbuilding is a declining industry.In paragraph 66 the Committee says:It does not in any case deal with the wider question of the contribution which retraining can make to effective redeployment of labour.I regard the effective redeployment of labour as the most vital aspect of this Report and of the whole subject of training in industry.
However, having, as I think correctly, put its finger on the problem, the Committee recommended in paragraph 66that the Manpower Research Unit of the Ministry of Labour should carry out a comprehensive assessment of the future manpower needs of every industry with a view to establishing the way in which retraining can contribute to an effective redeployment of labour.I find this conclusion desperately depressing. With all the evidence which is now available in this country, and which has been made available by the Report, we cannot need another inquiry now. The position is perfectly plain, that all we 319 need are more Government retraining centres on a scale that is not contemplated even now in the Government's present plans. Even with the Minister's announcement of a plan for 23,000 men a year by 1970, the figure pales before that in France, where the present capacity is well over 50,000, and where it will be 74,500 in 1970. Hon. Members have already mentioned the figures in Sweden which, on a proportionate basis, are even more remarkable.
There is no point in the Government's claiming that sufficient retraining is done through industry through the Industrial Training Boards. The difficulty is that so many of the Boards cover the older industries. What is required is an expansion of the Government training centres to take in and retrain thousands of men who will be made redundant through no fault of their own but through advances in technology. At present, technological advance is being halted to allow for a slow, regulated decline in the older industries. In some of these industries, for example, the coal industry, we find ourselves in the ridiculous position of having to keep 25 per cent. of the natural gas that will become available in 1970 under the North Sea. We force the electricity and gas industries to burn coal when oil and natural gas are cheaper, and we do all this in order that there should not be too much redundancy among miners. But the planned exodus from the mines is based solely on the Government's present plans for retraining centres. If the number they could retrain were trebled in three years' time, the level of coal production could be reduced to its economic level far more quickly. By 1975 coal production should be 100 million tons instead of the Government's projections of about 118 million tons on any economic criteria.
More retrainging centres will also be necessary for other industries like the textile and shipbuilding industries. This week we have had further evidence from the constituency of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West where A.E.I. employees have been made redundant through no fault of their own, but because of merger arrangements made over their heads.
There is another agent at work which is still in its infancy in this country—the computer. The computer and the process 320 control machinery associated with it have as their declared objective the replacement of repetitive labour. I believe that I am one of 15 hon. Gentlemen who have completed a computer course and, with other hon. Gentlemen, I have been fortunate enough to visit computers throughout the Continent, and I made a study of them throughout the United States as well.
One of the reasons for the consistently higher level of unemployment in the United States has been the rapidly accelerating use of computers and other labour-saving equipment. Some time ago Mr. William Allen wrote an article in the Sunday Times showing that for the same operation more men are required in shipbuilding and other engineering industries than to perform the same operation in other countries.
It is also true that we are behind the United States, Japan, France and Western Germany in the installation of computers. We cannot regard this position with equanimity. What is certain is that we must begin on an urgent programme of building Government training centres so that where machines are installed to replace men the men can be retrained for better activity.
In short, what we need is an active employment policy. After my recent visit to France, it seems to me that the French have one which we would do well to copy in some respects. I refer in particular to the work of their national employment fund, the object of which is first to provide security of employment—not necessarily in the same job—and, second, to allow technological advance to take place which would benefit all workers in the long run. What happens in this country, as we observe all too frequently, is that when firms are doing badly through economic decline the workers ask them to cut their working hours instead of being made redundant. That is because there are not enough retraining facilities and not enough incentive to use what there are.
In France, workers in retraining centres receive 80 per cent. of their previous wage, and can get up to 90 per cent., depending on the type of retraining they are doing, in special circumstances. I see from the Report that in this country the maximum wage is £11 for a married man with four children at a retraining 321 centre. That is not enough. The aim in France is not just to provide unemployment pay, which is, of course, available, but to find the worker a means of being retrained at a satisfactory wage, so that he can regard his training as a natural development in his career. There is an interesting passage in the French Fifth Plan, dealing with employment policy, which says:There is a need to reconcile growth and monetary stability with greater rigour than in the last decade. Experience has shown that the compartmentisation and sluggishness of the labour market are sources of inflationary grains and checks upon growth.That is the position we have reached here these many years past.
Every hon. Member is pledged to a policy of full employment, yet those who have read the economic arguments of Professor Paish cannot regard them with complete disdain, nor can any hon. Member who has been, as I have, to France, Germany, and particularly Holland, where the Dutch have a really developed trade union and management relationship, and the United States, really believe that an effective incomes policy can be implemented without more or less of a balance between the number of unemployed and jobs available. If that is so—and my observation is that it is—then the unacceptable part of the Paish thesis is the number of unemployed which must rest on one side of the equation. If that number is intolerable for all hon. Members, the answer is to retrain on a massive scale those numbers of unemployed who are apparently in that position because of increasing advances in technology and the necessity to keep an economic balance in our affairs.
What is needed is the provision of no fewer than 70,000 places in 1970—not 23,000—and 100,000 shortly after. If that were done, I think that there would be a possibility of a new social contract emerging in our country. The employer's duty under it would be never again to regard the workers in his establishment as part of an economic equation but as a living entity. The State's responsibility would be to see that never again was there a pool of unemployment made to match some economic theory or as a result of developing technology properly. Above all, the responsibility and opportunity of the worker would be to take full advantage of a continuing 322 development in training which, in a real sense, he could regard as a continuing education in his life. That is the sort of contract the Government could pursue if they considerably magnified their present plans for retraining centres, which in my view are quite inadequate.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
As many hon. Members have said, this has been an agreeable debate, with each of us in his own way trying to solve these serious problems. The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern) referred to the number of places required—quite correctly. But he must be honest with the House and point out that his own Government's figures were not comparable with the number of places provided by present Government.
It is interesting that, as Member for Bothwell, I should be taking part in the debate because an industrial rehabilitation unit is opening in my constituency today and, at the end of the year, according to my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, an industrial training centre will also be opened. Bothwell is in a development area and the centre will be in the industrial estate in the heart of my constituency. I have no doubt that we shall have many applicants for the vacancies.
Most hon. Members have referred to the amount of money paid to men undergoing retraining. Under no circumstances can we get the workers or redundant workers or the unemployed to accept a situation in which, while being retrained, the amount of money provided to them is totally inadequate to keep them and their families in respectable conditions. Much as they are endeavouring and considering doing something about this, the Government must deal with the problem seriously. They must do something about it immediately.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) referred to education, and I am with him 100 percent. in his expression of opinion on that aspect. I do not believe that we place enough emphasis on day release for apprentices. At the same time, if we on this side who put forward forcefully the view that day release should be compulsory make an honest appreciation of the situation, we discover that many of the boys now going to these classes 323 could not care less as to whether they go or not. Therefore, we who are members of trade unions have a responsibility to inculcate into the minds of these apprentices the fact that, when they go to day-release classes, they go there to work and to try to assimilate the education given to them.
The employers also have their responsibilities, and I speak here from experience. I was the convener of a technical college before coming here and I went to the college often. I looked at the marks that some of the lads received for examinations and wanted to know what sort of performances they were giving in the various trades. I found, for example, that in the distributive trades we could not get anyone to come at all to take part in day release classes and I regret that, in some instances, the co-operative societies, of which I am a keen supporter, were equal with private enterprise in not sending apprentices to day release classes.
The employers must ensure that sufficient incentives are given to the boys, who are paid a day time wage when they go to day release. All of us have been teenagers and some of us were apprentices, so we must recognise that, in industry, the workers are generally on a bonus and piece time basis and therefore make money in excess of what they would earn on the time rate. Consequently, when the apprentices go to day release classes, they drop the bonus or the potential piece work for which they would be paid and this, of course, acts as a disincentive to them.
One aspect not mentioned so far is prevocational training. I have discovered that many of the boys reputed not to be apprentice material in some circumstances go into the highways and byways and are lost to industry in general. My own local authority has one of these prevocational schools and only last week the superintendent told me that, since it opened about four years ago, 70 per cent. of the lads attending had been placed in apprenticeship training.
This pre-vocational school is operated on a factory basis—and this may be in line with what the hon. Member for Horsham referred to as the tactics or training taking place on the Continent. The boys thereby get factory experience. 324 They get the live feel of what will happen to them when they go into industry and this serves a very useful purpose.
It is unfortunate that my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson) is not here, but he explained that he would have to attend another important meeting, which, incidentally, I should also have been attending. I am at cross-purposes with him about the trade unions in this context. In an excellent report, which I commend many hon. Members opposite to read, the T.U.C. made special reference to industrial training and the Report itself tells us that the T.U.C. stated that there were no difficulties in placing trained or retrained men generally and that difficulty was met with only in one particular area.
Why is there this difficulty on the placement of these men? The simple fact is that, in development areas, because the men have been so used to unemployment, because they are scared of losing their jobs—indeed, because, in many instances, there are no jobs for them—there is a reluctance among craftsmen to allow these retrained men to come into their industry. However, in areas where there are vacancies—and this has been the experience of my union—there is no reticence among the workers in any particular factory to take in these men. As I said in an intervention, the dilution agreement made in the war is still in operation and adequate coverage is given to the workers in safeguarding their jobs.
In industry, a great deal of flexibility is taking place with the acquiescence of both managements and unions. Only a few short years ago, welders, who are very jealous of their craft—and this, too, is based on my own experience—faced the problem that employers in the engineering industry have not as yet recognised welding as a trade. At the same time, because there was a serious shortage and because of the new techniques and technological developments in industry in general, welders were at a premium and of course still are.
They are now being accepted into industry from these training centres. Flexibility is growing within the engineering industry, because welders now realise that unless they are prepared to be cooperative and work with the craftsmen —the five-year time served craftsmen— 325 there will be difficulties. They now allow craftsmen to do tack welding. This was not permitted a few years ago, and it is a move in the right direction.
We also speak of terms of apprenticeship training, and the number of years that an apprentice has to serve before becoming a craftsman. I agree with the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) when he said that the first 12 months of an apprentice's training is, under all circumstances, a period when the boy is running messages.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) said that an apprenticeship period of 12 months would be sufficient in the construction industry. I would suggest that he had better not say that to the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives because it would not accept that, and they have worldwide knowledge of the construction industry. In fairness to the construction industry it is now possible for a boy to start at 17. He is allowed to go to a technical college for the first 12 months and does four years in the factory or site then becoming a skilled craftsman.
Let us have no illusions about development areas. The only way in which we can get a proper solution to the problem is by being honest with ourselves. It is not a shortage of places in the training centres in these areas that is the problem, but a very serious shortage of jobs. In many cases there are no jobs for the men who have been trained to play a proper part in industry. To be fair to the Government, with all the inducements that they are giving to industrialists, if the industrialists rally to the call and move to the development areas, then the good work done in the training centres will be of great importance.
I want to refer to the much maligned American firms. Many of these firms are operating throughout this country and we once criticised the techniques they adopted. They were not prepared to allow boys to be trained in the factories. There has now been a complete departure from that attitude and boys are being trained in the factory. Men are being retrained and at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, we have derived a great deal of benefit from these firms.
Finally, I want to compliment the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and his 326 Committee. He should not apologise to the House for being premature with the survey carried out. He and his Committee should be complimented by each and every one of us for bringing to the Floor of the House something which concerns the well being of the country, economically and something which has a direct bearing upon the manpower situation, so closely related to our economy.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)
There can be little doubt that today's debate has reflected, in a particular way, great credit upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) who was responsible, in the main, for conducting the Industrial Training Bill through the House and ensuring that it became an Act. I wish to pay credit to him, because without him, none of this debate could have taken place. I wish to deal with the aspects of training and development of managers. During a sabbatical absence of one year the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour saw fit to appoint me to this Sub-Committee and I believe that at the moment I am the only Member of Parliament taking any part in the activities of the Central Training Council or its sub-committee.
Industry quite definitely wishes to keep industrial training out of politics, and this is right and proper. The only political thing that I will say this evening I will get off my chest at once. I was very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman, announcing his increases in Government training centres, could not have announced one in the South-West. We are not doing awfully well there but perhaps he will bear that in mind the next time round.
There were a number of problems to do with management training that were not entirely brought out by the Committee and which will need consideration. We have a three-pronged exercise in management training. There are the universities, 21 now giving a business degree, and two business schools, in London and Manchester, which have started from scratch and worked up to a state of considerable efficiency, doing an extremely good job.
In the middle are the old professional management institutes. I am sorry that the Estimates Committee did not take any 327 evidence from these bodies, because they are attempting to do a considerable amount of work in training managers. These were the bodies, and I speak with some authority, as the Director of the Institute of Purchasing and Supply, that for years and years have carried the educational banner for management in a specific function within management itself.
These bodies have attempted at all times to keep up to date with their profession. They have worked up a nucleus of the management knowledge in their own specific function and produced most of the textbooks to deal with the functional aspects of management. They have set their own standards of examination which today are accepted throughout industry. They have had no subsidy, living entirely on their own members' subscriptions.
In an attempt to keep up to date, 18 months ago they came together forming the Consultative Council of Professional Management Organisations to deal with some of the aspects covered by the Central Training Council. I would say to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) that I was sorry there was no mention in his Committee's Report of their work, or indeed of the need for I.T.B.S. to co-operate with this existing body of knowledge in management training.
§ Mr. Hamling
I ought to say also that there is no mention of the very valuable work done by my own college in respect of management.
§ Mr. Emery
The work of these professional bodies—the hon. Gentleman has probably realised exactly what I was going to say—has been often tied up with the ability of technical colleges. It worries me that within the work of the industrial training boards too frequently their criteria of standards have not been set in co-operation with the professional institutes. The institutes which have done so much of the standard bearing in the past. Also I would suggest that some of the work of the industrial training boards has not been carried out with as much of the co-operation of the technical colleges as I would like to have seen. This is a great weakness which needs to be examined carefully.
328 Turning from the old-established aspects of training we come to the industrial training boards themselves. They have very great power. They have the power to levy money from industry and their authority and influence over industry. Their effect on the structure of industry in the future I believe has been underestimated by many people, because for industry to be able to obtain any rebate on their grant they have to meet the requirements set by the industrial training boards. This means that the industrial training boards are able to set their own standards with no relationship to those institutes who have set the standards accepted previously.
This perturbs me, and in a Report by the Management Training and Development Committee there is a paragraph which illustrates this:Many firms may feel the need of advice about the availability and purpose of appropriate external courses, and they should be encouraged to consult their boards or other sources of information, such as the Management Education Information Unit of the British Institute of Management and other professional organisations which will give advice within their specialist field. Wherever possible, contact should be made with those providing courses to ensure the appropriateness of the course for the purpose in view.It has been brought to my attention in the last three weeks that certain courses dealing with the training of instructors run by the Institute of Personnel Management, the leading body in personnel management in this country, are not approved for grant purposes by one of the industrial training boards. This means that the industrial training board is saying that what the Institute of Personnel Management is doing is not adequate. That seems to me a very strange way of doing things. They have not consulted the Institute of Personnel Management about this. A set requirement has been established. This is nonsense in my view and is something we must watch very carefully. This indicates the power the industrial training boards have in setting standards. Sometimes it is dictatorial; often it is unco-ordinated between boards. I could provide a number of instances where one board wishes to do one thing and another board something different. On the same sort of management training. They are setting two standards, and have not at any time consulted with, in this particular instance, the Institute of Office Management.
329 Too many of the industrial training boards have been staffed by pure educationists, people who have not had as much experience of industry as might have been hoped. It is important that we should consider the staffing position to try to ensure that the practical aspect is fully considered.
Recommendation No. 5 of the Report states:The Ministry of Labour should take steps to see that the recommendations of the Management Training and Development Committee of the Central Training Council are put into effect…I am delighted to see that as I helped with the Report, but I am a little worried about whether more Government money should be used in making grants to put the recommendations into effect. My reading of the Act is that this money should come out of the industrial levies and that there should be enough from the levy for this purpose. While I appreciate the feeling behind the recommendation of the Committee, I should have hoped that it could be achieved by using the levy and not by way of grant from the Ministry.
I turn to what I feel is the most serious criticism which can be made on the management side of industrial training, and that is the lack of co-ordination among the vast number of bodies which have a small or large finger in the pie. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) gave some illustrations, but I should like to go further than he went. Not only the Ministry of Labour but the Department of Education and Science is concerned in management training. The Department of Economic Affairs is concerned. I have been called to the Department to discuss management training problems with it. The Board of Trade and the Ministry of Technology are concerned. All these Departments have a slight say and influence in management training. This is far too many.
We have had the appointment of the new Neddy and the Management Education Training Committee. If we look at the list of names of people asked to serve on the Committee, we see some of major leaders of British industry. Is not this yet another duplication of committee work? I wonder how essential it is. We have the Foundation for Management 330 Education, the Council of Industry on Management Education and the committees of the Consultative Council of the Professional Management Organisations. We seem to be setting up more and more committees to do exactly the same thing. What happens in the long run is that the best brains are not willing to contribute their time because they see so many different bodies dealing with the same matter.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
I suggested that there might be a board for management training, and I was very doubtful about it, but, having heard about all the bodies involved, I am coming to the conclusion that it might be better to have one board.
§ Mr. Emery
Perhaps not a new I.T.B. but there should be some co-ordination. Surely no one can suggest that that is wrong.
I hoped that the Government might accept some of the management principles which we are trying to lay down for industry and begin co-ordinating their own Ministries and all the committees and bodies looking into management education. They have the power let them use it.
§ Mr. Hamling
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that that is the purpose of the report of the Central Training Council?
§ Mr. Emery
Would not the hon. Member agree that any well-managed organisation should act on it as soon as is humanly possible? I am sure that he would be the first to propound that view, and I am surprised that he is willing to accept the delay.
The major use of the knowledge and of the bodies available to assist in management education must be properly coordinated, and we must try to ensure that the power of the Central Training Council to help in this co-ordination is not just advisory.
331 That being so, I turn to the major developments that I should like to see brought about. I believe that the grant factors established under the industrial training boards should not just by right be available to Government bodies, as they are, but that the co-ordination of grant facilities should be sponsored by the Central Training Council to ensure that each industrial training board has the same sort of criteria. The criteria cannot be absolutely the same, but they should be the same sort of criteria. What worries me is that that is not happening.
It is also important that we should deplore the duplication of effort now going on in management education and training, and try to get the Government to do what they can to bring all these efforts together. If one outcome of the debate were the use of all the present established educational facilities, this would be a good day not only for management education, but for industry.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)
I want to speak, on a rather more controversial note than has so far been sounded, as one representing a West Midlands constituency and what is supposed to be a prosperous area. If most contributions in the debate have had one common link, it is that most hon. Members have represented areas which have either some particular unemployment problem at the moment or are in development areas.
My constituency has a present unemployment level of over 5 per cent., which is, I suggest. more than double the general level prevailing in the West Midlands. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary represents a Birmingham constituency, and, since I lived in it for some time, I can assure him that the unemployment percentages in his constituency are rather different from those in the Nuneaton and Coventry region. I make those remarks by way of preface.
I do not think that the many excellent contributions we have had from my hon. Friends or the excellent Report, have questioned the fundamental division which has been made in the provision for on-the-job training and off-the-job training. I want to do that first of all, because it appears to me that in concentrating perhaps 75 per cent. of our efforts on off-the-job training—particularly in 332 Government training centres—and perhaps only 25 per cent. on on-the-job training in industry, we have got things slightly the wrong way round.
I say that particularly with reference to the vast changes in industry, not only in structure, but also in techniques, which are being made today. We have had recently the merger of British Motor Holdings and the Leyland Group. Before that we had the merger of A.E.I. and G.E.C. These, I would have thought, would have paved the way for the introduction of completely new and different skills from those which we have hitherto associated with Government training centres.
We are still concentrating in Government training centres throughout the country on the rather older, traditional craft skills. We are still turning out centre-lathe turners, carpenters and welders. I deferentially suggest to the Government Front Bench that those are skills on which the battle was fought and very often lost more than five years ago. They certainly will not be the skills which the kind of industry to which I have just referred will need predominantly in five years' time. That is why I basically suggest a change of emphasis and a division between on-the-job and off-the-job training, because industry itself has a far better idea of the kind of more specific rather than craft skills which will be needed in, say, five or 10 years' time.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that the modules introduced by the Engineering Industry Training Board have made significant progress in that direction. The trouble is, however, that very few of those modules even include such things as numerically controlled machine tools, which many firms in Birmingham, for instance, had almost finished with five years ago. Therefore, if there is reference to the growth of new techniques which is already being made by the training boards and the Government training centres, I suggest that they are already outdated.
I suggest again that by transferring the emphasis to industry, which knows what it wants but in many cases is not getting what it wants from the Government training centres, we would be putting the emphasis in a far more appropriate direction.
There have been many references today to the comparative ease of placement in 333 jobs after completion of a Government raining centre course. I do not know whether my constituency or the Coventry sub-region is rather different from the various regions which have been referred to, but at every "surgery" which I have held for advice and interviews in my constituency over the past three or four months, I have had someone who has been to a Government training centre and completed the course but cannot get a job.
In saying that people cannot get a job, I am referring to those who, very often, have been literally trotted all the way round the West Midlands by the regional training officer, Mr. Lyon, who is doing a very good job in trying to find placement for those people. Constituents have been to see me who have been to Leicester, Long Eaton, Birmingham, Llannelly and, presumably, the new Coventry centre at Torrington Road.
Despite the fact that they have completed their course, those people cannot find jobs. Many have had to accept jobs in conditions and skills for which they had no training while they were at the Government training centre. Difficulties of that kind could, I suggest, be overcome by transferring the emphasis from the Government training centres to industry and letting industry do the training.
In certain parts of the West Midlands I am afraid that "retraining" is in danger of becoming a dirty word from the point of view of the trade unions, who cannot be blamed, because they are trying to defend their places in the traditional craft industries and skills which the Government training centres are still turning cut, and from the point of view of managements, because they are looking for people who have acquired the skill and the experience which they will not obtain in a Government training centre in six months. Both from the trade union and the management point of view a great deal of false emotional connotations are associated with the term "retraining", and certainly with the Government training centres.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Would the hon. Gentleman say whether the people to whom he refers are unable to find employment because there are no vacancies in the right skills or because, while vacancies exist, there are obstacles to these dilutees filling them?
§ Mr. Huckfield
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that intervention. The cases are split, about 75 per cent. because there are no jobs available and about 25 per cent. because there may be some obstacle. It is difficult to break them down into individual cases, but that is the rough split.
All this experience comes from a supposedly prosperous region where there are said to be plenty of jobs. It comes from a region which is certainly not a development area, and, if the answer which I received from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade last Tuesday is any indication, it will not be classified even as a "grey" area. All the experience is based on an area which is not classified in any special way by the Government.
I suggest that, from time to time, the Ministry of Labour does not listen to the right people. I can name Eric Thorne, of the Institute of Supervisory Management, and John Wellens, who frequently contributes to Industrial Training International. Those are the sort of people to whom the Ministry ought to pay far more heed. It could gain from the experiences which those contributors and many more have already provided.
The other point which I would like to make is about the training of training officers. Again I suggest that still there is not one decent training course for them. Before I came to this House, I had a long and not altogether profitable experience of further education. It was my experience that when this type of course was sent along to the local college of further education, it was accredited with the kind of lecturers and staff whose timetables were not made up to their 18 hours a week and who were put on the Ministry of Labour training officers' course. All too often that happens with the so-called "crash" courses which the Department has been sponsoring.
I suggest to my hon. Friend that his Department is not accrediting sufficient importance to some of the staff which it is recruiting. Recently, it has advertised for an adviser who will also act in a kind of consultant capacity, at a salary of about £3,000. To most hon. Members, that is quite a reasonable sum of money. The trouble is that, after he has been recruited, the gentleman will have to go 335 round the country and talk to the personnel and training officers of firms who probably earn double, if not treble, that kind of salary. Though I appreciate that there are serious difficulties in making comparisons between Government Departments and appointments on this basis, that is the kind of situation in which the adviser and consultant from the Ministry of Labour will find himself.
Like many other hon. Members, I have been a little concerned about some of the appointments made to the staff of the industrial training boards. I do not want to make any particularly pertinent or personal accusations, but it is rather disturbing that a great many of the upper echelons of the staff of the new industrial training boards seem to be coming either from where a Government Department does not want them or from where a Government Department, a nationalised industry board or even private industry does not know what to do with them. I suggest that more important attention is given to the selection of some of the people who are now holding very important and, as the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) has said, powerful positions in industry training boards.
The hon. Member for Honiton has made specific reference to some of the professional institutes' courses which have been conducted at colleges of further education and technical colleges round the country. I can speak with a certain amount of experience on this, because for about four years it was my job to lecture on certain of these courses. I will not refer to the particular institute concerned and I will not say that this is a complete answer to the point made by the hon. Gentleman but my experience on a certain course— this may be a reflection on my lecturing as well—was that, after taking a particular group through the whole year, the person whom I and everybody else thought would come top of the class failed the examination set and marked by the institute concerned. On the other hand, the person whom I and everybody else thought would come bottom of the class, because he never came along to any lectures and simply went down to Cornwall for a fortnight to "mug" it all up, passed.
336 I will not say that this is typical or that it answers the hon. Gentleman's point—I would not dare to pretend that—but I suggest that there are many different standards and ideas on what courses should be included and, above all, many different approaches which are being made by colleges of further education and some of the professional institutes. With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I suggest that some of these do not quite mesh, especially from the point of view of the professional institutes.
§ Mr. Emery
I am delighted to hear of the hon. Gentleman's great success in his lecturing with these particular people. But no one is claiming that any of the educational schemes by the professional bodies are absolutely perfect. I would be the first in my own institute to say that there is a great need for improvement. But with every year that passes active steps are being taken, first, to bring them up to date and, secondly, to make the information in the lecture notes between the lecturer and the institute more easily available to ensure that a common standard can be obtained. I am certain that is what the hon. Gentleman would want.
§ Mr. Huckfield
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, but I am afraid it does not correspond with my experience. During my four years part-time and full-time lecturing at the Birmingham City College of Commerce, I was asked on many occasions to make comments on particular courses which the professional institutes were running. In no case which comes to my mind was any notice taken of the advice that I gave. That, again, may be a reflection on the quality of my advice, but this was based upon my experience in lecturing and administering the courses concerned.
I can make a whole series of general comments, mainly from my position as a member of the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions, but I will not weary the House with them tonight.
Another very important question, to which reference has not been made this evening, is the training of shop stewards. There have been many references to supervisory management, and there has been some talk about charge hands, foremen, and such ranks, but there has been 337 no reference to the important question or training shop stewards. I do not mean training them to be "tame" shop stewards. but to be more effective. There has been no reference to fitting shop stewards into the industrial pattern, nor has there been any reference to the fundamental issue of industrial democracy and its future, a matter which has been raised on several occasions by both sides of the House.
I would have liked to have seen in this otherwise excellent Report some reference to some of these questions. In particular, I would have liked to have seen some reference to future role of participation by both sides of industry, and some mention of future developments in industrial democracy.
§ Mr. Dobson
Would not my hon. Friend be asking too much to expect trade unions generally to accept that there should be industrial training boards to train shop stewards and people who represent workers? Is it not true to say that the Government cannot do this either?
§ Mr. Huckfield
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because it helps to underline the point that I was going to make. I am not asking the Government to train shop stewards. I am suggesting that there are certain basic things about industry which should be commonly given, on a common basis, to both sides. I do not think that the education of shop stewards, not in techniques of bargaining, but in general industrial background, would come amiss.
§ Mr. Bob Brown
Does my hon. Friend realise that my union, the General and Municipal Workers', has a residential college—" Woodstock ", near Claygate in Surrey—which provides 40 places for people to be trained as shop stewards? It costs £100 to train a shop steward, and 40 are trained per week over the }ear. This is the type of work which the trade unions should do.
I am obliged to my hon. Friend, and I pay a tribute to the Transport and General Workers Union, and the Amalgamated Engineering Union, for the work they do in this respect.
I conclude on a rather more parochial and constituency level. I represent a constituency, 17 per cent. of whose in- 338 sured labour population is in mining or quarrying, particularly the former. One hon. Gentleman said that the rundown in the coal mining industry seemed to be geared to the provision of places at Government training centres. This is not the case in Warwickshire. When Arley Colliery, just outside my constituency, closes on 28th March, 1,200 men will become redundant. I cannot see any scope for them to be retrained at the Government training centres at Coventry, Long Eaton, Birmingham, and various other places in the West Midlands. If it is suggested that at the moment there is some kind of co-ordination between the level of pit closures and the provision of training places at Government training centres, I must positively and wholeheartedly refute the suggestion, because it is not borne out by what is happening in my constituency.
I compliment the industrial editor of the Coventry Evening Telegraph,Mr. John Cross, on producing a series of excellent articles on future employment prospects in the Coventry sub-region, and particularly in North Warwickshire. He has made the point better than I can that an area like Coventry, and particularly an area close to the Warwickshire coal field, which still employs about 8,000 men over whose future there are several question marks, needs far more attention paid to it than has hitherto been the case with regard to the provision of retraining facilities.
Despite the excellent efforts being made by the manager of my local employment exchange in Nuneaton, Mr. Halstead, and by regional Ministry of Labour people, the existing machinery of the Ministry of Social Security, Ministry of Labour Government training centres, and industrial rehabilitation units, is far from sufficient to cope with even one colliery closure in Warwickshire. Before there are any more, I hope that there will at least be some co-ordination of training redundancy provisions and a far closer link between the various services than hitherto. I hope that there will be no closures in future where training places do not exist and no co-ordination has been done in the past.
There are bound to be many teething troubles for the industrial training boards, especially in an industry like road haulage, in which I have had some 339 experience. It comprises many small firms, many of whom are paying £90 or £100 for the levy and cannot see what they are getting for it. There are bound to be difficulties in getting the kind of training to which we have committed ourselves in the grant. I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister on the great strides which have been made over the past three years, bearing in mind, however, that the first Government retraining centre dates from 1935 and not from 1964. However, I suggest deferentially that they have so far put the emphasis on the wrong side of the fence, on on-the-job rather than off-the-job training.
Finally, on a constituency point, where colliery closures are involved and where there are such closures as perhaps there are in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), there must be far more coordination than hitherto.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)
I am sorry that it was necessary for me to leave the Chamber for a period before the speech of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield). The hon. Member, the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) all mentioned the difficulties which some graduates of Government training centres have found in obtaining employment and we will want to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary the extent to which is is due to trade union resistance.
The Committee's Report does not mention this, but in the evidence given to it on page 64, the witness answering on behalf of the Minister of Labour said:…when we discussed with the Engineering Training Board whether training could not be developed by the industry with help from the Board and with the Government grant, the trade unions made it very clear they would not agree for one moment unless it was made quite obvious it was training at semi-skilled level and not craft level…. We have over many years, in spite of a great deal of suspicion, got a kind of slightly grudging agreement from the unions to our doing this type of skilled training. I think if you want the employer to do it direct, the first thing you have to do is to find out whether the unions are prepared to allow it. There is very little evidence that they will.340 Since that evidence was given, there have been some signs of an improvement in the situation, but, in answer to Questions before the Christmas Recess, the Minister said that there were still points of resistance and difficulty in gaining acceptance of the graduates of Government training centres.
Many of our shortages are at the skilled level, and we will want to know what sort of progress has been made in eliminating these points of resistance. There have been some rather nasty rumours about the rate of progress of the engineering course at the Manchester Government Training Centre having been halted because of resistance from the trade unions concerned. Some illumination from the Minister on this point would be welcome.
Many hon. Members have emphasised the importance of training, retraining and the work covered by the Committee in its Report. I should like to see us moving towards the use of the word "training" rather than "retraining" right across the board. Retraining has the implication that, somehow, one is throwing away one's past skills and is starting completely afresh. Particularly for people at the craft level, this term has an unfortunate connotation and I therefore suggest that the use of the word "training" would prove beneficial all round.
It has been pointed out that training must be pursued at all levels, from the unskilled to the semi-skilled and from the semi-skilled to the skilled and management levels. Without wishing to introduce a partisan note into the debate, it is interesting to remember that the extra measures on training matters announced at the Labour Party conference by the right hon. Gentleman were all aimed at manual workers and for upgrading them to the semi-skilled level. My suspicion, which was reflected elsewhere at that time, was that that was a reaction to the threat of high unemployment during the winter, rather than to an absolute belief in the need for extra training.
Training of course has a role to play in countering the effects of redundancy; and when an industry is threatened with run-down and movement is necessary, it is vital. However, training has a 341 continuing, positive role to play in improving the level of skill—the fund of skills available to us within the economy.
I therefore add my voice to those who have asked for the Government to think of making a course of training available which is not simply marginally more attractive than being unemployed but which is positively attractive to those who are already in employment and face no immediate prospect of losing their jobs. That would mean more adequate pay and allowances for those undergoing training. It would also possibly mean offering some sort of scholarship at an even higher level, with a lump sum, to those who are prepared to take part-time courses, perhaps at evening classes, to fit them for a course of full training. By showing themselves in this way to be fit for a scholarship or bursary, they could go on to undertake a further course of training. This type of system operates elsewhere, notably in the United States, and I hope that it will be considered here.
Much has been said about manpower forecasts. We are hampered by the shortage and poor quality of statistics. Many companies, when asked to project their manpower needs, simply use the existing mix and project it ahead to what they consider to be tomorrow's work load, without taking into account the changes in that work load that are likely to take place. The margin of error in these forecasts must be gigantic. We therefore do not need merely to identify the areas of shortages and surpluses of manpower but the nature of those shortages and surpluses. An immense amount of work must be done in this sphere and I am glad to hear that a high priority is being accorded to it.
I wish to refer to the recommendation to establish an Industrial Training Board for the printing and publishing industry, Since I earn my living in that industry I must declare an interest. I was sorry that the Minister could not announce today the formation of such a board. As the Estimates Committee said, there is a growing need for such a board. The British Federation of Master Printers, in its report prepared by the Industrial Training Service, made clear the tremendous amount of work there is to be done.
342 Computer typesetting is an extremely important development in this industry. The growth of computer typesetting makes the preparatory work tremendously important yet the only reference book on this subject was published nine years ago, before computer typesetting was used by the bulk of printers in this country. There is an immense gap in the industry which needs to be filled as quickly as possible by an Industrial Training Board.
It is too early to be dogmatic on the question of the levy grant system to which many hon. Members have referred. A high level is desirable, for otherwise employers will pay the levy simply as another tax and not bother about trying to earn the grant by developing grant attracting courses. The levy is based either on the numbers of employees or the total payroll cost of a particular firm. Training needs, of course, relate to very different criteria —whether the firm is expanding or contracting, what sort of turnover it has among its skilled men and the particular mix of skill in an individual firm. Particularly in the Engineering Training Board, which covers a wide range, we need either a much more flexible system or a breakdown of the industry into smaller units. I should like to have the reaction of the Parliamentary Secretary to that.
I add my word to what has been said about apprenticeship. In my industry and in others the system is astronomically wasteful of talent, money and skill. It creates a built-in resistance at the start of a man's working life to subsequent changes and further courses of training. We want initial training mainly off the job, followed by on the job training, and then followed during the man's working life by regular training periods progressing through his career. The concept of intermittent training came before the Committee. This would be more economical and satisfying to the individual and much more in accord with the needs of our economy.
Because I promised to conclude my speech by twenty-past nine, I have not mentioned management training.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East that transferability of pensions has an important part to play in mobility. I hope to hear something from the Parliamentary 343 Secretary in reply to the point made by my right hon. Friend.
We are all conscious that it is too early to judge the performance of individual training boards in detail, but we are sure that there has been an increase in the quantity of training. We hope that there has been an increase in the quality. We look forward to hearing from the Parliamentary Secretary what further plans the Government have for improving it still further.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I hope the hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) will forgive me for not commenting on his remarks. because I promised to speak for only a few moments.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), who served on the Estimates Committee, intended to speak in this debate. He had prepared an excellent speech, but he has had to go home because of the illness of his wife. My main purpose in being present during the debate and speaking now is to assure the House that there was no discourtesy on the part of my hon. Friend in not attending for the debate. I am sure that I speak for the whole House when I say that we have a great admiration and respect for him and we are sorry about the reason for his absence.
I believe that there are far too many men in industry with high potential to acquire technical knowledge but who are not being given the opportunity. Modern industry does not require the old traditional skills. It requires technical knowledge and a modicum of skills, because skills give discipline. By learning skills in engineering a man learns the disciplines which are essential to any skill.
I ask the Government to do all that they can in industry to break down the resistance, on the part of both management and trade unions, to the further technical education of men who have shown a high discipline in their skills. I myself was a tool maker. Men have been promoted as foremen and charge-hands who should have been sent to technical colleges or universities to be trained in a higher skill. Men should have been brought in from training cen- 344 tres to do jobs which 20 years ago were skilled but which are no longer skilled jobs because of the application of technology.
I hope that the Government and all those in industry will realise that the country's future now depends to a much greater degree than it did in the early part of the nineteenth century on the success we can make of training men for the new technology—in schools, in industries, in technical colleges. I do not agree that men who are trained in the basic skills in older industries are not suitable for training in modern engineering techniques.
At the outbreak of the war some of the finest skilled men at work in the Midlands had been drawn from the ship building industry and the heavy engineering industry in the North-East and Scotland. I worked with them. In the early part of the war I was in charge of a tool room. I had many of these men with me, so I know exactly what they were like. Men trained in the old disciplines are very able and competent in the new industries.
One of the greatest shocks I received in the last few years was when I met four young men who, independently of each other, had done their National Service and had entered industry as trainees. All had had a first-class education and were of excellent character. I asked them what aspect of their training, either at school or in industry, had made the greatest contribution to their capacity as managers or executives in industry. I was very surprised that all four men said that the best training they had received was that at the Mons Officer Cadet School at Aldershot. This came as a great surprise to one who does not like the idea of military training. If the Mons Officer Cadet School is such a wonderful establishment for training men in leadership for the Army, and if that leadership is later found to be beneficial in industry, perhaps the Officer Cadet School should be consulted with a view to its techniques being used in training men for leadershp in industry.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
During the course of the past 25 years there has been a remarkable pattern of lost opportunities in industrial training.
345 Comparing this period with the period before the war, there is again remarkable pattern of hope, of lost opportunity, of budding up a service, and eventually finding that it has been dissipated for reasons that the country cannot understand.
The odd thing about the Government training centre system is that even at this stage, bearing in mind the remarkable improvement since 1964, we have fewer such centres than we had in 1947, although in the past year we are training in our general industrial training programme twice as many students as in 1954. Twice as many students completed a course of training in the Government training centres in the year ending last month as compared with the year ending January, 1964, and more than twice the amount of money has been spent on operating those centres in the past three years. When one considers that in 1964 only £4½ million was spent on their operation, against £9½ million today, one sees that there is a tremendous improvement, but there is also a falling off of the general impact of the service on the country's economy as a whole, at least as we should like to see it in the years ahead.
There is a great challenge for my right hon. Friend here. He has done more thin any other Minister since the war in this respect, but he has had to do it against the background of a falling-off in this provision since the immediate post-war years. We had 70 Government training centres in 1947 arising from all the opportunities for the State that existed during the war years and the need to provide this kind of facility. That number fell during all the years of Conservative Government to 13 by 1962. That is a measure of the tremendous task that Governments since then, and the present Government in particular, have had to meet.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
Would the hon. Gentleman accept that in 1947 there was a special job to do and a great expansion of the training centres because of men returning from the war who needed to be retrained for industry? I am not suggesting that we now have an adequate number of centres, but there was a special reason for that high figure.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I accept that. There was a special job to do but the whole 346 infrastructure of this training for industry was lost for the other job we had to do, to meet the country's economic requirements.
I apologise for having to be disjointed because those of us who have entered the latter part of the debate have been very much restricted in time. I have been particularly concerned, and was rather pleased that my concern has been shared by the Minister, that he should address himself as a matter of urgency to the need to provide more training facilities and the opportunities to have them for those who are over the age of 40. This is a vitally important matter, and I make a very special plea about it. If we attracted sufficient public support to the need to deal with the problem the country would be grateful. This is a very important section of the community which has suffered for far too long from the point of view of employment opportunities.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Roy Hattersley)
With one or two minor exceptions, the debate has been conducted outside party lines. Even if it were within my capacity, it would be entirely inappropriate for me to try to end the debate by a bravura performance, rallying my hon. Friends to the party cause.
Instead, I shall try to answer some questions put to me unremittingly for the past 4½ hours. Hon. Members will understand that it will not be possible for me to deal with them all. I shall try to deal with those which appear to my subjective and, no doubt, inadequate judgment to be the most important. I apologise for the omissions and my inability always to refer to the hon. Gentleman or hon. Lady who asked the question. I shall do my best to answer their questions, even though that recognition will not always be possible.
I begin by talking of vocational training in Government training centres and I will deal at once with the techniques and processes by which trainees are selected and which, it has been suggested, may in some ways be inadequate because of the drop-outs which occur during the period of training. Selection for Government training centres is methodical and tough—so tough that, in some areas on 347 some occasions, we are accused of being too exacting.
But I believe that we are right to be exacting because, as my right hon. Friend said, it is a savagely unpleasant thing if a man begins training and then finds that either there is no job available for him or he is incapable of completing that course. Even so, even having made allowances for the interview conducted by an officer of my Department, an employer and a trade unionist, and for an occasional written test that qualifies men to become members of a centre, it is essential that, after that period, if there is any doubt, marginal cases are given the chance to appear in a centre in order to demonstrate their ability to do the job.
Many of the men we attract into these centres and whom we need to attract are men who, by their nature, are not capable of showing up to the best advantage in any form of examination. Therefore, there must be an initial assessment of two or three weeks and, therefore, occasionally there must be some men who leave the centres during that period.
Those who get to the end of the course —and 95 per cent. of the entrants do so —obtain a job in the trade for which they have been trained. I remind the House what the increase in the figure for unplaced trainees really means. It does not mean that there is an increased number of men who have not got and will never get employment within their training trade. The increase in the figure in the last six months is a statistical demonstration of the fact that there is a longer waiting period between leaving a centre and actually being employed. The total figure of unplaced trainees is twice as great if everyone waits a fortnight as it would be if everyone waits a week. The peak of 500 unplaced trainees which we reached some months ago was a reflection of a longer waiting period rather than of absence of opportunity to be employed in the training trades concerned.
I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) that, at the time when the prospects were at their most gloomy there were only 44 unplaced men in their training trades both in the East and West Midlands. He said that he knew dozens of such men. He must have known them 348 all—and in Nottingham, Birmingham and cities in between. Notwithstanding that, this is still clearly a figure which we regard as high and undesirable.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
In HANSARD to-morrow, my hon. Friend will see that I did not refer to "dozens". I merely said that the occasions when men attended my surgery who could not find a job after coming from a centre were all too frequent.
§ Mr. Hattersley
Let us both rejoice in the fact that there were only 44 in the East and West Midlands. But, of course, none of us rejoiced when the overall figure rose to a peak of 500, for that was unsatisfactory. But it has been gradually reducing over the last few months, and when we compare the total of 500 unplaced men at one time with the figure of 10,600 trained during a year, the figures fall into perspective.
My right hon. Friend reminded the House of the vast increases in the capacity of the centres taking place over the next few years, and which began in 1964. It is natural to ask whether that increase could not be doubled or even trebled if shift work were introduced in the centres.
When I first went to the Ministry of Labour, this seemed to be a bright innovation that I should examine but I was partially dampened in my enthusiasm by the knowledge that my predecessor, now the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, had also thought of this as a bright innovation which she should examine.
I am told by her that her enthusiasm was partly dampened by the discovery that her predecessor, now the Minister of Power, had thought of this bright innovation. We all examined it independently and all came to the absolute conclusion that the problems of working training machinery continually or indeed on two shifts, the problems regarding instructors prepared to work on shifts, the problems of men travelling some distance to train and working shifts from 2 till 10 or 10 till 6 made it an absolute impossibility.
We came to the conclusion that the real answer was to expand existing facilities, and run them on a single shift basis. We have heard several hon. Gentlemen suggest that the grants paid to G.T.C. trainees are totally inadequate. 349 Again we ought to put this in perspective in terms of supply and demand. One hon. Gentleman said that there was a need for greater encouragement. Another said that they were unable to find suitable candidates. Neither of those two statements is at all true in terms of the supply and demand equation.
Certainly there are very many people who want to come to Government training centres who are not deterred by the level of allowance, who find that they have to wait before they can get a place. Or 1st January this year, there were 8,000 G.T.C. places. There were 4,000 men on the waiting list for those places—a figure which I hope and believe will fall during the coming months, but a figure which can never go down to zero. Clearly the administrative requirements of getting men into places, of informing them of the vacancy and of them giving their notices at existing jobs, and sometimes making domestic preparations to leave home and live in lodgings, means that there will invariably be a hiatus between one man leaving and another filling his place. Therefore, while 4,000 on the waiting list is certainly not a satisfactory figure, it is certainly not a figure which we can hope to see evaporate altogether, even during the most advantageous circumstances.
Certainly, 4,000 men on 1st January, 1968, were not deterred by the level of allowance that we pay from applying for Government training. If one puts this in perspective, one sees why they were not deterred. The Report which we are debating talks about a basic allowance of £10, but on top of that there is now a graded allowance, partly dependent on what the man was earning before he went into training and partly on his family commitments, which in an extreme case at this moment means that a man who came from a well-paid job and has a large family can be taking home £18 in Government training allowances. In addition, he is paying no National Insurance, getting his meals and travel free. If that should still sound inadequate to the House let me go on to say that from 1st April that maximum will be increased by £1 10s., and from that date £19 10s. will be the possible maximum that the G.T.C. trainee can take home.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
Does that include his earnings related supplement, 350 and can my hon. Friend say how many children are envisaged in the example that he has given?
§ Mr. Hattersley
I make it absolutely clear that this is the maximum figure. I am not suggesting that every G.T.C. trainee will take that sum home. That is the top scale. This is the figure that a man with many dependants will receive. Certainly when people talk, as they have this afternoon, about a man leaving a well-paid job, this is the figure that the man will receive.
The right hon. Gentleman asked if there was any assurance that the men attracted to training or going into training would not find, once retrained, that they were going into a less well-paid job than that which they had before the training.
There are two things to be said about that. First, a man will certainly be more secure than he was before his training period, and he might well be better off. Clearly no rules can be laid down, but when one considers the nature of the courses available, and particularly the new courses which will be available in the spring and summer as a result of the expanding of the G.T.C. syllabus—to take two examples, electronic wiring and circuit testing and machine tool reconditioning—when one sees the new level and new scope of the G.T.C. courses, one realises that they are courses which can result in a very profitable occupation as well as a very secure one.
It is not possible to make any predictions about the patterns of G.T.C. trainees over the next five or 10 years. It is possible to say—and this, I think, is in direct reply to one question—that 50 per cent. of all men going into the Government training centres are coming directly from employment. Only 50 per cent. of trainees were unemployed immediately before they came into the centre. Whether that figure will remain constant I cannot say. Whilst we cannot give proportions of the mix, we can say that the three basic ingredients will be preserved—conversion training, upgrading training and accelerated training —to provide men with skills for new industries.
It is possible to predict, despite this massive extension outlined by my right hon. Friend, that Government training 351 centres must continue to be a small part of the total Government training programme. Of the total training programme at the moment, they are about 5 per cent. It seems to me inconceivable that they can ever become the major factor in our training programme. My right hon. Friend said it, the right hon. Gentleman said it, and it bears saying again, since so many times during the afternoon we have been told that the industrial training programme is inadequate because of the size of the total intake into the G.T.C.s This can only be a small part of what we try to do, and it must be a small part of the effort which is basically the responsibility of industry and run by training boards.
It is a method which is expanding fast, and if it is to continue to expand adequately we must make sure that it is organised and staffed efficiently. It is entirely proper that the Report should draw attention to, and the House should raise again, the question of the recruitment and quality of instructors. The Report puts on record that at the time the evidence was taken there was a net shortage of instructors. The House will be pleased to know that this is no longer the case. Since that time the method of recruiting instructors has changed. We now mount campaigns of national advertising as a result of which we had no fewer than 15,000 inquiries and 4,500 firm applications; 3,000 men were interviewed and tested; 600 were found suitable; half that number were appointed and half are in reserve for the expansion programme.
This state of affairs does not lead us to believe that we can be complacent about the status of the instructor or that we are in a buyers' market. Our comments on the Select Committee's recommendations make it clear that instructor pay is subject to a research unit survey, and on receipt of the report of that survey negotiations with the appropriate unions will begin. We hope the negotiations will be completed by the middle of this year and we hope the new agreement, subject to income policy, will contain some areas of retrospection.
We have been asked many times during the afternoon, despite the reference to the subject by my right hon. Friend, about the attitude of trade unions and 352 trade unionists to men who have been retrained and upgraded in the Government training centres. My right hon. Friend rightly referred to the growing acceptance of this process, but many hon. Members have referred to pockets of local resistance. The Government's attitude to both these things has been made clear and I am delighted to make it clear again. Before I do this I believe it would be unreasonable if the House were not to acknowledge two things: first, the pressure on trade unions who have time-served members out of work; the second is to pay tribute to the wisdom of national union leaders who resist those pressures.
A great deal has been said from time to time about the T.U.C. Economic Report for 1968. Paragraph 78, which says thatthere is no justification for any general ban on the acceptance of adult trainees in any part of the country ".has been quoted frequently. That is official T.U.C. policy. With all the stresses and pressures which it faces, it is to be congratulated on adopting that policy.
But there are areas where problems exist. They exist normally, not because of district committees or district officials, but because of pressure on the shop floor. The pressure varies from area to area, and in those areas it varies from trade to trade, but exist it certainly does. As I have said, the Government have made their attitude very clear on many occasions. Let me do so again tonight.
We believe that the adult trainee must be accepted for what he is—a man who has received training which is nontraditional but certainly not inferior and that he will be and must be a vital addition to our skilled labour force. We insist on that for two reasons. The first is because the addition to the labour force which is recruited and produced in this way is vital to our national interest. The second is that his recruitment and training are in no small measure vital to the interests even of the unemployed time-served union member who occasionally resists his recruitment at specific factories. I say that because one of the things which are most in the interests of the unemployed time-served union member is that more and more industry should be encouraged to go into the areas of mass unemployment.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
I have recently returned from Australia. The hon. Gentleman has talked about training people. He has not mentioned a word about people going to Australia and countries like that where they are given very good wages after having been properly trained here.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has just got back from Australia. If not, he might have taken a greater part in the debate. I do not intend to deal with that point, which is irrelevant to what we have all been discussing.
What is relevant is the attitude of unemployed trade unionists in the development areas.— We know—and we are conducting two surveys to give documentation and details of this—that there are some companies which, despite the massive incentives available to firms which want to move into development areas, are loath to do so because they feel that if they do they will be subject to problems resulting from a return to a chronic shortage of skilled labour. The fear that skilled labour is short in the development areas prevents the creation of new jobs and additional job opportunities in the North East, Scotland and every other development area. Therefore, to press on with our programme of adult retraining is something which will not impair employment opportunities but will improve them.
I turn to the Industrial Training Boards. May I say in passing that I do not regard this speech as being divided into two parts. There is no automatic dichotomy between those services provided directly by the Government and these provided by the boards. The two must work increasingly together and hand- in-hand.
I am loath to do so, but I must remind the House of the objects of the 1964 Act. The intention was to increase the quantity and quality of industrial training and to share more fairly the costs of it. If the House accepts that that was the intention of the Act, it must also accept that a number of consequences logically and inevitably flow from it. The first is the grant and levy system, which is the instrument by which those three objects are achieved. Sensible, prudent, 354 far-sighted management accepts that training to improve efficiency and productivity is a worth while operation in itself, even without receiving grant.
But for those managements who find such a process slightly intangible—and there are some—the grant and levy system must be an inducement. If there is a grant and levy system, it is essential that it should be backed up by some form of inspection. I am afraid that there must be somebody to make sure that there is the right amount of confetti on the beach, and that the confetti is of the right colour. If training boards are more and more to pay grant only for training of adequate standard it implies more and more inspection and supervision.
That inspection and supervision may be in the form of visits, or in the form of questionnaires, or in the form of demonstrations as to the equipment available for training. But, somehow, a system has to be devised which determines which firms are eligible for grant and which are not. Certainly, if one is to have a gigantic organisation like the Engineering Industry Training Board distributing each year something like £80 million of grant, it is less than reasonable to assume that it will not have a substantial administrative set-up to back its grant system, to help with organisational training and support that training with men actually in the field.
In any case, I believe that many false distinctions have been drawn between administration and training. We had the falsest distinction of all in last week's agricultural debate, when it was asked: "Why is this board spending so much on administration—for instance, on the salaries of 47 regional training officers?" That sort of distinction seems to me to be nonsensical. It is equally nonsensical to try to distinguish between the training officer who recommends how the training shall be done and the accounting officer who is responsible for arranging the grant for the training that has been recommended.
That leads me inevitably to the Engineering Industry Training Board, about which hard things have, as always, been said. The board was accused of being bold with other people's money, and of empire building. My views about the 355 board are simple and precise. Had it not done what it did, not only would the spectacular improvements in that industry have been prevented, but many other industries which have been emboldened by the example would not have had the improvements that have come about from about 20 other training boards.
There was a distinction drawn between two Victorian poetesses. It was said that Christina Rossetti feared to leap but that Elizabeth Browning missed her footing. The problem, if it is a problem of the Engineering Industry Training Board is that it occasionally missed its footing. But it never feared to leap. Now that it is firmly established, it has made the foothold secure and made the leap a good deal more safe for the boards coming after. That board is owed the gratitude of many who have profited from its example and courage.
My right hon. Friend was asked two specific questions on individual responsibility in management training. The industrial boards have total responsibility for management training in industry. That means that my right hon. Friend is responsible for that aspect of the job. Equally clearly, the Department for Education and Science has its usual further education responsibility. But, putting aside those two responsible Ministers and excluding them from the strictures, the fact remains that there are too many cooks, and no one would argue about that. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) used that phrase, my right hon. Friend agreed with it, and I now endorse it.
To avoid the problems that stem from having too many cooks was the objective of the Central Training Council's report on management training. The preface to that report says quite clearly that it is not new thinking on management training but a distillation of the best existing thinking. It is a codification of what exists at the moment and can only be found from many sources.
That seems to be the sort of thing that the Central Training Council should be doing. That seems to be one of the basic objects of its existence, and the sort of job it does best. 356 Because of the way it did the job, there are now 16 boards claiming grant for management training, and those boards that are not at present doing so are preparing their recommendations to make sure that the grant levy incentive is available here too. That is why I believe that the evidence in paragraph 52 referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) is altogether too pessimistic; and that management training is being increasingly accepted. It will be accepted more and more as the years go by.
We were specifically asked about recommendations for grants for management trainees going to external courses. I suspect that the hon. Member who asked the question knows very well that the Report urges that such grants should be paid. My information is that more and more boards accept the principle, recognise the reputable external course and pay a grant towards it. Our endorsement of the Report's conclusion means that we hope that the process will be extended and continued.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about forecasting in the long-term sense of deciding, determining and stating what were the industrial needs. I will pass lightly over the slight conflict between demanding better forecasts and advocating free play of the market. I accept entirely that many of our industrial forecasts are inadequate. My right hon. Friend said, and I reiterate—
§ Sir K. Joseph
I acknowledged that for the best management in industry it is an extremely difficult job. I asked about job analyses and statistics.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I concede that. I was saying, and my right hon. Friend has agreed, that there are many inadequate aspects of Government statistics. Some Boards are trying to make up for those omissions. The Iron and Steel and the Engineering Industry Training Boards are mounting their own surveys. The Manpower Research Unit is doing what it can, as our comments on the Report show. The figures in general are, however, inadequate. We undertake that the Government's agencies in general will do what they can to improve our statistical services.
It is important to understand the nature of today's debate in terms of the meaning, purpose and objects of the Industrial 357 Training Act. Underlying much of the debate, and certainly underlying many sections of the Select Committee's Report, are judgments about what is, and what should be, the appropriate relationships between the Government and industrial training hoards. Where the Report asks for the Government todirect the attention of boards to the recruitment of training staff,it not only expresses concern about that area of activity but it expresses an opinion about what authority the Government have, and should have, over industrial training boards.
The Government's attitude is very plain. It is the attitude which, I believe, our predecessors intended to create when they prepared the Industrial Training Bill and presented it to the House. Boards have, and must continue to have, a substantial level of individual autonomy. The intention of the Act is that within broad guidelines, industry should run its own training. Certainly, industry already finances its own training. I do not believe that the £130 million which has been levied from firms by Industrial Training Boards would have been paid as readily or as willingly had it been levied by the Government and used in training schemes that were devised and supervised by Whitehall.
The essential feature of the Act is that the boards are industry running training for industry. The boards are staffed by people who are recruited from each side of the individual industry. Their reputation is known and their judgment is respected in the industry. They are not feared as people with airy-fairy views on the theories of education, but are practical men concerned with increased wages, increased profits, greater efficiency and higher levels of productivity. It is essential that that sort of relationship between boards and industry should be preserved.
I have no strong doctrinal views about what should or should not be an appropriate level of Government intervention in industry. The only principle which I hold on the subject is the conviction that the Government should never fear to intervene when intervention seems necessary and appropriate.
On this occasion, however, I believe that intervention by the Government into industrial training would be positively 358 harmful. Industrial training has grown over the last three years in no small measure because industry knew very well that within the broad guidelines set down by my right hon. Friend, and within the occasional direct intervention on occasions like the presentation of the annual levy order, industry would be allowed to get on with promoting its own efficiency, productivity and profitability.
If my Ministry should seem to be constantly intervening in those decisions, faith in the boards would be undermined and the work which they now do so successfully would be substantially prejudiced. I am strongly in favour of letting the boards get on with it because they seem more likely to do it well than anybody else. They deserve a substantial measure of the credit for what has been achieved in the last three years, and I think that my right hon. Friend is right to let them get on with it in the way that they have done so well since 1964.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the Ninth Report from the Estimates Committee in the last Session of Parliament and of the Second Special Report from the Estimates Committee relating to Manpower Training for Industry.