HC Deb 29 July 1975 vol 896 cc1490-1
12. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps are being taken to ensure that the number of apprenticeships and other industrial training for school leavers is increased and not diminished during 1975.

Mr. Harold Walker

The Manpower Services Commission announced on 2nd July 1975 the first part of a package of special measures. These included the provison of 7,000 extra off-the-job training places for young people to train for craft and technician occupations through training award schemes operated by the industrial training boards. It also announced that special grants would be available for the construction industry to encourage employers to increase the recruitment of apprentices.

It was further announced on 22nd July that the Government had made a further£8.5 million available to increase the opportunities for young people to train for skilled employment, and measures are now being discussed with the training boards. These are expected to create a further 6,000 training opportunities for young people including 2,750 training award places.

Mr. Hooley

Is my hon. Friend aware that these moves are very valuable and are very much welcomed? Is he satisfied that we are building a sufficient infrastructure of skilled workers so that British industry will have the skilled labour that it needs as soon as we get an upturn in the economy?

Mr. Walker

I welcome my hon. Friend's comment because it gives me an opportunity to say that it would be deplorable if manufacturers were tempted by the expansion of Government expenditure on the creation of new training facilities to cut back on what they might otherwise have done. There is evidence that this is taking place, and I am sure that the whole House will regret it and will urge manufacturers to bear in mind that when there is an upturn in the economy the skilled manpower which will be needed will be those who ought to be undergoing training now.