HC Deb 02 March 1982 vol 19 cc140-1
6. Mr. Squire

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the skill content of the present youth opportunities programme.

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

I am satisfied that the training in basic skills in the youth opportunities programme is constantly improving. In 1982–83 the programme will contain around 100,000 new comprehensive training places as a bridge towards the youth training scheme that starts in 1983.

Mr. Squire

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that one of the key elements in the health of an economy is the degree of training or skill that school leavers are able to acquire? In that connection will lie undertake to ensure that the highest degree of skill or training is available under the recently announced youth training scheme?

Mr. Morrison

The answer to both questions is "Yes".

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that there are some good employers who, at the end of the journey, give youth opportunities programme workers the chance to carry on? Is he also aware that there are many bad employers who must be monitored and given certain guidelines, because in many instances our young people are being exploited? That was not the intention of the scheme that was introduced by the Labour Government.

Mr. Morrison

Surely the hon. Gentleman is aware that the MSC monitors all the schemes and all the sponsors of those schemes. In some cases, they are rejected.

Mr. McNally

Is the Minister sattisfied that the monitoring is adequate? There is too much evidence for it to be anecdotal of young people going into jobs as skivvies and leaving feeling bitter and cynical. Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that the scheme is properly monitored? If employers are using the scheme for cheap labour, will he also ensure that they take no further part in it?

Mr. Morrison

I am satisfied that the scheme is monitored properly and that, wherever there is a complaint, the MSC investigates.

Mr. Watson

In view of the attention frequently drawn by Labour Members to the proposed reduction in the weekly allowance from £23.50 to £15 per week, will my hon. Friend make clear whether, under the new scheme, the total sum available per young person, including the crucial training element, will be going up or down?

Mr. Morrison

The amount spent on the average week's course is about £38, including the allowance. The amount that will be spent on the youth training scheme per trainee per week is £53 for 16-year-olds, going up to £63 for 17-year-olds. As my hon. Friend said, there is a substantial increase in the amount being spent per trainee.