HC Deb 17 February 1976 vol 905 cc1110-2
3. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation with a view to providing compulsory minimum standards of training for schools leavers intending to enter industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Harold Walker

We hope to be able to make a statement of policy on vocational preparation for young people within the next few weeks.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my hon. Friend aware that a leading employer is reported as saying that 300,000 young people enter industry every year with no semblance of training? In view of the restructuring of industry and the maximum advantages we hope to gain, has not the time arrived when young skill should be developed by introducing the principle of compulsory training?

Mr. Walker

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science said in a debate on 24th November last that there were 300,000 people in the category to which my hon. Friend referred. He said that a forthcoming statement to the House would contain proposed measures to deal with the problem. I do not know whether my hon. Friend has seen the document prepared by the Training Services Agency entitled "Vocational Preparation for Young People". That will give an idea what the statement will contain. If my hon. Friend has not seen that document, I shall be happy to give him a copy.

5. Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will review the operation of the recruitment subsidy for school leavers, whereby such subsidies are not paid in respect of school leavers who have taken temporary work for more than six weeks.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Fraser)

The operation of the recruitment subsidy for school leavers has been reviewed. As announced on 12th February 1976 by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the life of the scheme has been extended to 30th September 1976, and as from 16th February 1976 Christmas school leavers have been included. No other changes in this scheme are contemplated at present.

Mr. Morrison

Does the Minister realise that because of the six-weeks' rule some young people are being discrimi- nated against and that they are the very people who should be encouraged, because, in deciding to take on temporary employment until they gain full employment, they are casing the burden on the State?

Mr. Fraser

The hon. Gentleman wrote to me about a particular case. I appreciate the difficulty. However, if we were to amend the rule which says that the period of work must be no longer than six weeks or must be vacation work, we might find difficulty by having to subsidise job changes as well as employment. There is some hardship wherever one draws the boundary line. I have looked at the matter and I do not think that we can review the rules.

Mr. MacFarquhar

is my hon. Friend aware that the latest research suggests quite clearly that it is far more difficult for a trained man in his fifties to get a job even in a low unemployment area than it is for a young person—a school-leaver or a young worker—completely without training to get a job in a high unemployment area? Under these circumstances, will he consider with the Treasury possible incentives to firms willing to take on redundant workers in their fifties, after retraining?

Mr. Fraser

There is a difficulty at both ends of the age scale—for the younger worgers and for the older workers. I cannot commit myself in response to my hon. Friend's suggestion, but I shall give it consideration.

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