HC Deb 28 April 1981 vol 3 cc641-2
10. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has had from the Trades Union Congress on industrial training since its conference of 13 March; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Morrison

Since 13 March my right hon. Friend has had a letter from the general secretary of the TUC on the subject of industrial training which forwarded the views of the TUC's printing industries committee.

My right hon. Friend always takes careful note of any views which the TUC expresses to him whether directly or through the Manpower Services Commission.

Mr. Madel

As the TUC suggested at that conference that apprenticeships systems should be modernised and improved, will my hon. Friend invite it to continue discussions with the Government on this important matter, as it is in the interests of both the Government and the TUC that industrial training becomes more effective?

Mr. Morrison

I agree that apprenticeship schemes should be more flexible. I am certain that conversations will continue on that basis.

Mr. Pavitt

What discussions has the Minister had within his Department on the mismatch between the shortage of engineering skills and the number of unemployed? Is he aware that in an inner city area there is a shortage of engineering skills and inadequate apprenticeship training schemes when a large number of people are doing warehousing work?

Mr. Morrison

As my right hon. Friend said earlier, we are constantly concerned that there may be skill shortages. Conversations continue on that basis.

Mr. Haselhurst

Are the Government aware that continuing uncertainty about a more comprehensive training scheme gives the impression that the Government are not in step with the march of events, to the great distress of the unemployed and to the dismay of many Government supporters?

Mr. Morrison

As my hon. Friend is probably aware, we are hoping shortly to publish a joint document with the Manpower Services Commission on a new training initiative.

Mr. McNally

Does the Minister agree that, given the wish of both sides of industry for new initiatives, now is the wrong time to encourage voluntarism, which encourages the irresponsible and penalises the responsible employers carrying out industrial training?

Mr. Morrison

No, now is just the right time to encourage voluntarism and to encourage a new, flexible approach.