HC Deb 29 July 1971 vol 822 cc770-1
18. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek discussions with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress in an effort to increase the number of apprenticeships available for young people.

Mr. R. Carr

It is the industrial training boards on which employers and trade unions are jointly represented who are primarily responsible for the volume of apprenticeship training. I have asked all the boards to review the situation in their industries and to consider any special steps that might need to be taken. I have also asked the C.B.I. to do what it can to persuade companies not to cut back the recruitment and training of school leavers.

Mr. Cox

In view of the seriousness of the matter, should not the right hon. Gentleman be doing something more than asking what is being done by the C.B.I.? Should he not be asking for urgent meetings at which this matter could be discussed? If he does not receive the amount of success that he would like in extending apprenticeships, does he not agree we should seek from the Government a greater willingness to spend money on and to extend training centres for apprenticeships throught the country?

Mr. Carr

On the last part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, he may have failed to notice that only last week I announced a major expansion of measures, including financial measures, to encourage Government training schemes. I can assure him and the House that I am not merely asking the I.T.B.s and the C.B.I. for advice; I am asking them to do things.

Captain Elliot

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the way to increase apprenticeship opportunities is to remain competitive, price-wise, in the export market? Has he had any reaction from the T.U.C. in answer to the initiative taken by the C.B.I. in the cause of price stabilisation?

Mr. Carr

I told the House in the economic debate last week that we are looking forward to continuing discussions with the National Economic Development Council next week—discussions begun last month—and I hope that they will be constructive.

Mr. Carter

Will the right hon. Gentleman carry out an investigation into the employment situation in terms of school-leavers? In spite of his urgings, large companies are cutting back on apprentices and in some cases cutting out apprenticeship schemes altogether.

Mr. Carr

That is why I am not only making a general appeal to companies— and I have Birmingham in mind—but am asking industrial training boards to consider what should be done in each of their industries. I shall be keeping in close touch with them and supporting them in any action that they propose to take.

Forward to