HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28 c205
19. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the demand in England and Wales in September 1982 for places in further education colleges from students qualified to follow the courses they are seeking.

Mr. Waldegrave

Somewhat in excess of 1.8 million home students, including those students with the necessary qualifications for courses that require them, are expected to seek places in further education colleges in England and Wales in the 1982–83 academic year.

Mr. Hooley

Given the horrifying figure of 3.2 million unemployed, which includes about half a million boys and girls, is it not of paramount importance to expand colleges of further education as quickly as possible, so that those boys and girls who want to train for a career will have every opportunity to do so?

Mr. Waldegrave

Yes, Sir. The Government have devoted considerable resources to doing exactly that.

Dr. Hampson

Does my hon. Friend agree that we should concentrate on adult learners who wish to retrain or to improve their qualifications in polytechnics and equivalent colleges and that we could encourage them to do so by instituting a loan scheme or, as the Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education called it, an education mortgage? In that way, they would have some incentive to retrain.

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend's priority is entirely right. The idea of a loan scheme is interesting, but there is a limit to resources, even for a loan scheme.

Mr. Flannery

Have the Government seriously thought of giving a worthwhile allowance to all over the age of 16—for the sake of argument, the youth opportunities programme allowance of £25—to induce them to stay in education, instead of throwing them on the scrap heap at 16, as happens at present? As an educationist, does not the Minister think that that is a worthwhile aim?

Mr. Waldegrave

Both this Government and the previous Government have considered that idea, but the expenditure implications are great.