HC Deb 24 February 1981 vol 999 c729
3. Mr. Bob Dunn

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he plans to meet the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission to discuss job training.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

My right hon. Friend is in frequent contact with Sir Richard O'Brien on training matters. They are both concerned that Her Majesty's Government develop the most effective policy towards job training.

Mr. Dunn

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are concerned about the nature of existing apprenticeship schemes, and, if so, does he intend to raise the matter with the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission?

Mr. Morrison

We are considering the existing schemes. Before changes are made, several complicated and difficult factors have to be dealt with. However, the conversations that I have had encourage me to believe that there is now a more flexible attitude.

Mr. Foster

When the Minister's right hon. Friend next meets the chairman, will he discuss with him what will be done about over 1,000 apprentices losing their jobs since September in the engineering industry alone?

Mr. Morrison

My right hon. Friend is as concerned as the hon. Gentleman. Through the Manpower Services Commission, the Government have set aside £46 million this year to help apprentices.

Mr. Dorrell

Can my hon. Friend confirm that the Government will not propose the removal of the statutory basis for the industrial training board for any industry until they are satisfied that the alternative training procedures proposed by the industry will be at least as effective as the existing industrial training board structure?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend's point will be seriously taken into account before decisions are made about industrial training boards.

Mr. Harold Walker

How on earth can the hon. Gentleman claim that the Government attach great importance to training when they impose a further cut of £77.5 million in public support for training and are planning to cut the number taking advantage of the training opportunities programme, which was 100,000 in 1978 and will be only 55,000 by 1984? Is he aware that under his Government, month by month, the numbers of apprentices being taken into industry have fallen along with the numbers of people generally undergoing training and yet the Government are planning further cuts?

Mr. Morrison

I said earlier that the Government have set aside £46 million this year to help apprentices. Perhaps one reason why there are not so many apprentices is that the attitude is not as flexible as we should both like.

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