§ 2. Mr. Chapman
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his latest estimate of the proportion of employment vacancies not registered at job centres; and what further proposals he has for reducing the proportion.
§ Mr. Prior
The latest estimate I have of the proportion of employment vacancies not notified to the public employment service is based on a survey carried out by the Manpower Services Commission in 1977. The survey showed that over the period 7 April to 8 July 1977 about 34 per cent. of all vacancies were notified to the public employment service. The proportion of vacancies notified in areas served by jobcentres was about 42 per cent. compared with 30 per cent. in areas served by employment offices. Any increase in this proportion must depend on voluntary co-operation between local employers, jobcentres and employment offices, and I welcome efforts made by the MSC and hon. Members to encourage this.
§ Mr. Chapman
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that informed reply. Because of the importance of matching people to vacancies, will he personally supervise a continuing campaign to get many more employers to register vacancies—[Hon. Members: "What vacancies?"]—at jobcentres and other employment agencies? Do the statutory undertakers register their vacancies at jobcentres?
§ Mr. Prior
Every encouragement should be given to employers, and I shall see what else can be done to register any vacancies at jobcentres. My hon. Friend will know that the number of vacancies in the economy at any time is about three times the number that is notified to job-centres. That shows that a good deal more can be done in this direction.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas
What message would the right hon. Gentleman send to 251 the 597 platers and about 400 riggers in the Tyneside travel-to-work area, for whom in March there were three and nil registered vacancies respectively? What hope does he hold out for them and the other one in four males in my riverside wards who are currently unemployed?
§ Mr. Prior
While recognising how serious the position is, particularly in places such as Newcastle, I must tell the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues that, in the long run, the only way in which we can help places such as Newcastle, where there is high unemployment, is by getting more real jobs into the economy. That means getting Britain more competitive than it has been in the past 20 years.
§ Mr. Henderson
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this question raises a paradox, because while there is a serious unemployment situation, the reason why many vacancies are not advertised at job-centres is that the skills are not available, and the employers know it? Will he do more to encourage people to be trained for particular tasks for which there are vacancies, especially to enable younger people to gain experience in the skills for which there are jobs?
§ Mr. Ioan Evans
As there are now nearly 1,900,000 people unemployed, and as there are likely to be 2 million next month, will the right hon. Gentleman have a word with the Prime Minister, who went to Wales on Saturday and told people to leave home to find jobs? Where in Britain can they find those jobs?
§ Mr. Prior
No one is underestimating the problem of finding jobs. This situation has been with us now for a number of years—[Hon. Members: "No".]—and will remain with us for a number of years unless we tackle the basic problem in an old and at present decaying economy. We must do a great deal more if we are to get it right.