HC Deb 04 May 1976 vol 910 cc1051-2
13. Dr. Hampson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about his conference on the education of those aged between 16 years and 19 years.

Mr. Mulley

The conference, which took place on 23rd and 24th March, was concerned with the vocational preparation of young people in this age group. There was wide support for action in this field, and the Government's proposals will be published shortly.

Dr. Hampson

Does the Secretary of State recognise the horror of the education world at the sloppiness of the organisation, the embarrassing legacy from Lord Crowther-Hunt, and the feebleness of the proposals that the Government provided at the conference? Does he agree that provision for the 16–19 age group is fragmented and inefficient? Does he further agree that we must have a more adequate response from the Government and from all Departments, not merely his own, so as to get to grips with the 300,000 who leave at 16?

Mr. Mulley

I accept that it is a matter for others besides education departments, especially the Department of Employment and the Training Services Agency. We are in consultation with them. The hon. Gentleman exaggerates when he says that we are going about it at too slow a pace. One of the problems is that no one in the education world is terribly sure how to motivate and fully utilise the education service for those who do not use it now. It is not a case of having more of the same; there are vacant places that could be used now. It is a case of trying to get some pilot schemes going, and by their very nature such schemes must be small and experimental.

Mr. Pavitt

When considering this matter will my right hon. Friend consider a narrower issue that comes within it, namely, the problems of the vocational training of the 16–19-year-olds when there is a strong immigrant population which, as in my constituency, has a different coloured skin? There is a special need for placing after the vocational training.

Mr. Mulley

The placing of people in employment after vocational training is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. I should be opposed to any discrimination on the basis of colour, or for any other reason.