§ Mr. Harold Walker
The average length of unemployment for all unemployed persons who registered with the Employment Service in 1974 is estimated to have been about eight weeks. During the year about 49,000 unemployed persons successfully applied for retraining. Further information is not available for unemployed persons, but of all persons who successfully applied for retraining, over half successfully completed their course and about 80 per cent. of these found jobs in the occupation for which they were training.
§ Mr. Madel
In view of the changing pattern of employment due to changes in the price of energy and advances in technology, will the Minister consider setting up an inquiry into apprenticeship courses with a view to making possible changes? Will he also try to get closer co-operation between Government retraining centres, local education authorities and employment exchanges, so that the country is better prepared to face the challenge of unemployment in the mid-1970s, which will differ from anything we have previously experienced?
§ Mr. Walker
The pattern of apprenticeships and their duration has been changing significantly over the past few years. This is a dynamic and continuing change. As to closer liaison between the various agencies, the hon. Gentleman will know that the Manpower Services Commission was established about 12 months ago and the various agencies are taking significant steps in this direction. We are addressing our attention to the matter.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I am sure my hon. Friend will accept that the figure he has given for the average length of unemployment on a national basis is bound to be misleading and that he will not wish that impression to get abroad. Does he agree that to help the House to analyse the position more precisely it would be of assistance if regional figures could be included in the Official Report, especially those relating to people of 45 years of age and above?
§ Mr. Walker
I stressed in my original reply that the duration of unemployment to which I referred was the average length. I take the point that my hon. Friend is making, but I think he will accept that there are considerable difficulties in undertaking regular regional analyses on the duration of unemployment. None the less, I shall bear in mind what he said.