HC Deb 12 April 1983 vol 40 cc655-7
9. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many employees had responded to his publicity campaign for the new youth training scheme in south Yorkshire at the latest available date; and how many places in total they were able to offer.

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

Some 220 inquiries had been received in south Yorkshire up to 18 March. A substantial number of these were from employers. It is too early to estimate how many places will result from those inquiries.

Mr. Wainwright

My question should have been corrected to read "how many employers", not "employees".

Does the Minister realise that Government policies are not encouraging local authorities to help people as much as they would like to help them and that they are not encouraging employers to participate as much as they should? Is he aware that six or seven years ago, 24,000 trainees were being trained to be technicians, technologists and so on, but now fewer than 6,000 are coming up? When will the Government do something about that?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government, through the Manpower Services Commission, are preparing for 460,000 entrants throughout the country to the youth training scheme. I should have thought that that was doing something about it.

Mr. Marlow

Will the employers include Her Majesty's forces?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend has raised an interesting point. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence may be making a statement on that later this week.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Minister aware that the youth training scheme will make no more impact on the fundamental problem of youth unemployment than the abandoned youth opportunities programme unless there are fundamental changes in the Government's economic policies?

Mr. Morrison

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that if the country has a better trained work force the likelihood of jobs for youngsters will be much greater. As a result of the youth training scheme we shall have a better trained work force.

Mr. Wainwright

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg leave to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

10. Mr. Lee

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on progress in achieving his target in places for youth training initiative schemes.

11. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many places under the youth training scheme have now been guaranteed by sponsors.

Mr. Peter Morrison

Major employers nationally have so far promised 65,000 places on the scheme, and 100,000 new training places under the youth opportunities programme are now ready for conversion. At local level, discussions about the scheme are taking place with thousands of potential sponsors and I am confident that the target of 460,000 entrants to the scheme this year will be met.

Mr. Lee

I am sure that my hon. Friend will be as encouraged as I am from the inquiries that I have made locally in my area at the Manpower Services Commission and careers office that the target in Pendle will be achieved. On a national basis, does my hon. Friend feel that the Government are doing enough in giving a lead in the Civil Service?

Mr. Morrison

I think I am right in saying that there is a need for 1,500 places in my hon. Friend's constituency. We are confident that that target will be reached. I expect that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Treasury will answer questions later this afternoon on the national situation.

Mr. Haselhurst

To what extent do those figures represent fulfilment of the hope expressed in the MSC's youth task group report for a network of managing agents across the country providing a full range of opportunities for young people in their localities?

Mr. Morrison

I assure my hon. Friend that the targets set by the youth task group will be met.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is it not an indictment of Government policy that already 250,000 young people under 18 are without jobs and training? Is it not a disgrace that the Government's last desperate pre-election massaging of the jobless figures is to propel our teeenagers towards the army, which is backdoor conscription? Have the MSC and the Ministry of Defence been consulted on this conscription scheme?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman knows that the youth opportunities programme and the youth training scheme are voluntary. The 250,000 youngsters to whom the hon. Gentleman referred as being without jobs represent an indictment of the mismanagement of the economy by the Labour Government.

Sir Peter Emery

Will my hon. Friend consider the problem, about which I have written to him, of careers officers who, as yet, seem to have little information about the new scheme and are worried about the conversion from YOP to the new training scheme? Does he agree that it is immensely important that careers officers should have the necessary information in the next six to eight weeks before the schools go back?

Mr. Morrison

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Careers officers have an important role to play. I assure him that I am in touch with the Institute of Careers Officers, which will get the relevant and right information in time.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Is the Minister aware that his enthusiasm and optimism are not shared in Scotland or Merseyside, where regional officers say that they do not expect to get sufficient mode A places?

Secondly, is he aware that my local Conservative-controlled authority, Sefton, has announced that it expects to have to introduce a rescue attempt in the summer because its co-operation with the Manpower Services Commission is not going well?

Thirdly, is he aware that in December the standards will be set for places that will be introduced in September?

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Lady is looking at different figures for Scotland and Merseyside. We have some time to run, but at this stage, both in Scotland and Merseyside, we have sufficient mode A and B places for youngsters who want to join the scheme. The right hon. Lady will be aware that the MSC has set up a separate body to examine standard setting. I am satisfied that that is a good and properly organised body. I shall be happy to look into the relationship between Sefton and the MSC.

Mr. Golding

Is the Minister aware that the job splitting and young workers schemes are regarded outside as expensive and ineffective ways of producing jobs for young people? Will he scrap them and use the resources more effectively to create work for young people?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir.