HC Deb 19 October 1982 vol 29 cc219-21
13. Mr. Sainsbury

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest estimate he has of the number of 1982 school leavers who are still unemployed.

Mr. Alison

I am not able to provide the information in the form requested. Statistics on school leaver unemployment are not analysed according to the year in which the young people left school. However, the total number of school leavers under 18 years of age registered as unemployed in the United Kingdom at 9 September was 289,048.

Mr. Sainsbury

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the distributive trades, and particularly retailing, have a major role to play in eliminating this form of unemployment, which is an objective that we all share? Is he satisfied with the extent to which they are being involved in discussions and in bringing forward proposals to ensure an adequate training content in the schemes proposed for the new training initiative?

Mr. Alison

I am sure that both the new training initiative and opportunities for youngsters under the community programme include valuable training elements. With regard to jobs for younsters outside the training area, there is no doubt that the young workers scheme, now running at about 100,000 youngsters in work, is benefiting considerably from the amount of money that the Government are putting into it and from the willingness of the retail trade in particular to take on a large number of youngsters in this age group.

Mr. Allen McKay

Does the Minister agree that there is now a different pattern in youth unemployment in terms of employers taking on young people? What is the Department doing to investigate the future problems, taking into account the changes in apprenticeship and the fact that employers are taking on part-time rather than full-time employees? Does he agree that we shall still have a youth unemploymet problem even if there is an upturn in the recession? What radical measures do the Government intend to take to overcome that?

Mr. Alison

One of the few silver linings to the dark cloud of unemployment in Britain is the dramatic increase in spending on training schemes of various kinds for young people. Whether it be the training element in the community programme, the huge sums now being spent on the youth opportunities programme or the huge new sums to be deployed in the youth training scheme, there is a very considerable range of opportunities and possibilities for every kind of training and vocational adaptation to the employment pattern of the future.

Mr. Alton

How many of those going into youth training schemes are likely to obtain full-time employment when they have completed the course? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the prospects will create even more frustration and bitterness among many young people, who now face about 50 years on the dole?

Mr. Alison

The latest figures that I have for the youth opportunities programme show that 50 per cent. of youngsters completing a YOP course will either obtain work or go on to further education.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

How many of the unemployed school leavers are aged 18-plus and have, unfortunately, failed their A-levels and have thus not been able to go on to a university or polytechnic? Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are great problems in this area as many of the schemes to which he refers do not apply to school leavers aged 18-plus? Is he aware that many of us are concerned about that group?

Mr. Alison

I cannot risk giving an off-the-cuff answer on the statistics, but if my hon. Friend will put down a specific question I shall, of course, answer it. He will appreciate that the community programme, which looks after the longer-term unemployed aged 18 to 24, who have been unemployed for more than six months, has expanded from 30,000 to 130,000 places as a result of my right hon. Friend's latest measures.