HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc198-9
9. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the present provision for industrial training in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

No, Sir. Although 2,100 places are now available for training under the Training Opportunities Scheme compared with fewer than 900 in 1970, I plan a continued and steady increase in future.

Mr. Duffy

Is the Minister aware that perhaps the most grievous—because it has happened before—of the capacity limitations on economic growth in the Yorkshire region arises now from the shortage of certain categories of skilled workers? Will he reconsider the present number and distribution of training centres in the region, to ensure that this does not happen again?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Although, as I said, I am not satisfied with the situation, I am bound to admit that there is a slight improvement—namely, an improvement of 136 per cent.—on the places figures for 1970. I take some little satisfaction from that. But the introduction of the Training Opportunities Scheme has considerably increased the quantity and range of courses available by using capacity in colleges and employers' establishments. The four existing GTCs have been expanded, with annexes opened this year at Sheffield and Leeds, giving about 300 extra places in all, and there are plans in the pipeline.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my hon. Friend see to an extension of the admirable scheme now in operation at Bradford College of Art and Technology, under which people coming into the engineering industry are offered by the Department a 12-weeks' introductory course in the basic skills of that industry—a very useful foundation for people entering it for the first time?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I will certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend says. I have been very much encouraged by the improvement in the training of women. The percentage of women to men has increased twelvefold since 1970—from 3.2 to 37.2.