HC Deb 04 July 1978 vol 953 cc221-3
13. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any immediate plans to meet the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission.

Mr. Booth

I am in constant touch with the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission.

Mr. Durant

When the Minister next meets the chairman, will he discuss the working of the training opportunities scheme? Is he aware that I have a constituent who took a course but found that there was no immediate job for him, and another who found that the qualifications he gained on the course were not adequate for the job he was offered? Will the Secretary of State also discuss with the chairman the work of the jobcentres and emphasise to him that their role is to find work for people and not merely to satisfy employers' demands?

Mr. Booth

There would be no disagreement between the MSC, its chairman and myself about the role of job-centres. Their main function is that described by the hon. Gentleman. Discussions are taking place between toy Department and the Commission about the training opportunities scheme. I have looked at a number of aspects of the scheme with the chairman, but I have not sought to persuade him or the Commission that they should offer courses only to people for whom there are immediate vacancies. It is right that people should be able to train for skills and the upgrading of their skills even if there is no immediate vacancy in an area for them, provided that there is a general indication that that sort of skill will be required in future.

As to the development of the training opportunities scheme, there is a difficulty that some people trained in TOPS courses do not have the whole qualification necessary to take every job available in that skill. I hope that, in conjunction with industrial training boards, we will be able to work out a way of further upgrading the skill and experience of TOPS trainees on their entry into industry.

Mr. Skinner

When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman, will he discuss the curious and contradictory attitude of the Tory Party in this matter? Is he aware that, while the Leader of the Opposition and her Right-wing lieutenants have been scathing about the misuse of taxpayers' money in the job creation scheme, Conservative Central Office has been busily applying for help under the scheme and has taken £11,000 in the process?

Mr. Booth

Interesting as the subject is, I have better uses to which to put my time in discussions with the chairman than in discussing the curious and contradictory policies of the Opposition.