HC Deb 29 November 1977 vol 940 cc251-2
9. Dr. Hampson

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further steps she intends to take to improve the capacity of the education system to meet the requirements of British industry.

Mr. Oakes

My Department's review of local education authorities' curricular arrangements for schools includes questions about the preparation of pupils for working life. Other important new initiatives include the development of enriched engineering degree courses and the introduction of an industrial scholarship scheme to start in 1978–79. We are seeking to extend and to improve links between education and industry and to raise the level of understanding of industry among teachers, students and pupils at all levels of education.

Dr. Hampson

Does the Minister agree that neither from the point of view of all the number of additional extra places announced by the Secretary of State earlier nor in terms of the extra sum of money announced in the last few weeks, is there anything allocated to careers teaching, particularly the kind that involves work sampling and work experience? Should we not have a new urgent strategy if we are to take seriously the problem of cooperation between industry and school? Even the Minister of State a few weeks ago said——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The supplementary question is developing into a speech.

Dr. Hampson

Does the Minister agree that one cannot just sit around? Will he say what the Government intend to do?

Mr. Oakes

We are far from sitting around. The specific point about careers teachers and craft teachers was mentioned in the Green Paper published this summer. My right hon. Friend and I never cease to take the opportunity to stress the importance of industrial and educational links. It is a matter of attitude and, in the interests of the nation, those attitudes must be changed.

Mr. Clemitson

Although British industry may need more skills, may I ask my hon. Friend whether it needs more workers? Should not education increasingly be concerned with providing, for people of all ages, a constructive alternative to unemployment?

Mr. Oakes

I agree with my hon. Friend, but we are faced with the ironic situation that in a country with about 1.5 million unemployed, many industries still have an acute shortage of skilled people. This is a matter which the careers and education services between them must try to solve.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Since we have already had a Select Committee report on this subject, a White Paper in reply to it, and a Green Paper, is it not time for the Minister to use his influence with the Lord President of the Council to arrange for an early debate on this subject?

Mr. Oakes

That is a matter for the Lord President of the Council and this House.