HC Deb 04 July 1972 vol 840 cc219-21
4. Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will now announce his conclusions following consultations on the consultative document "Training for the Future".

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Maurice Macmillan)

I hope it will be possible to announce my conclusions on the main issues before the House rises for the Summer Recess.

Mr. Redmond

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the longer he takes to consider this matter carefully, the better the results are likely to be. A variety of opinions have been put forward on the serious problem of retraining. Has my right hon. Friend seen the letter which I sent to his Minister of State concerning one of my constituents, who is unable to get access to a training centre for retraining as a bricklayer when there is a desperate shortage of bricklayers in the area?

Mr. Macmillan

I have seen my hon. Friend's letter. There is a shortage of places in Government training centres and we have already taken crash action to provide another 3,000 training places, particularly in the more popular trades, largely by utilising unused industrial premises. On the main part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, it is difficult to make a statement even on the main issues until a good deal more work is carried out on the detailed and rather complicated representations which have been made to us from over 1,000 different sources, particularly since, as hon. Members opposite know, there are one or two people we have still to see.

Mr. Kinnock

In the consultations following publication of this document, has the Secretary of State taken account of the critical statement made by informed opinion which is concerned with the training of school leavers? Before he publishes his findings, will he further consider the fact that the document excludes school leavers from specialist attention in industrial training?

Mr. Macmillan

The document follows previous practice by assuming that industrial training as opposed to vocational education is the responsibility of industry. When people take their first jobs it is the responsibility of the industry they enter to give them their training. I accept that there is a considerable need—as the Department has shown in what it has done—to deal with problems of redundancy among apprentices. There is a problem not only of retraining but also of ensuring that young people get the training they need for the jobs which are available.

8. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many applications for retraining were received in the first quarter of 1972; and what increase this represents over the same period in 1971.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

A total of 35,490 compared with 17,340 in the first quarter of 1971—an increase of over 100 per cent.

Mr. Hardy

While there appears to be a large increase, is it not plainly inadequate in view of the very large increase in unemployment which occurred in the same period? Will the Government show far more vigour in pressing ahead with retraining and also in ensuring that employers, whether in the public or private sector, maintain a helpful and encouraging attitude?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The number of training places available in Government training centres has already increased from about 10,000 to 11,000 since June, 1970, but the main expansion is still to come. It normally takes three years to establish new steps. Action has already been taken to implement expansion of training facilities announced in the document "Training for the Future". We aim to train 60,000 or 70,000 candidates a year by 1975 and 100,000 a year as soon as possible compared with just over 20,000 now.

Mr. Loveridge

Could my hon. Friend say what help is available to find new jobs for men after retraining?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The record in this respect has not been unsuccessful. Of those trained at Government training centres 66 per cent. of the total are placed within one month in their trades and 74 per cent. within three months.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Is the Minister aware that there are wide areas of the country with no retraining facilities whatever and that one of these is my area of North-West Wales, where unemployment is very high indeed? Will he take steps to establish a retraining centre in that area as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I have been looking at the case of the right hon. Member's constituency and I shall be writing to him about it.