HC Deb 06 December 1983 vol 50 cc148-9
7. Mr. Stan Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take steps to promote the training of the long-term young unemployed in order to provide them with the high technology skills necessary in the late 1980s.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The Government are currently supporting over 5,000 places in information technology centres and sponsors under the youth training scheme are encouraged to provide training in computer literacy. Opportunities are also available under the training opportunities programme and threshold scheme.

Mr. Thorne

Will the Secretary of State argue in the Cabinet for economic policies that will produce real jobs for young people?

Mr. Morrison

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman puts the question in the way that he does when talking about technology, when he knows that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State argued in favour of information technology centres and that there is one in his own constituency, which I opened only a few months ago.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Does my hon. Friend recognise that the centre operating in Preston is doing a good job, bearing in mind that there is a great demand in Fylde and Preston for high technology graduates and students, and that the more resources that can be put towards that the better?

Mr. Morrison

I agree with my hon. Friend, and it was apparent to me when I visited the centre at Preston that not only were employers pleased that it was there, but so, too, were the trainees, who were benefiting substantially from the taxpayers' resources that are being used in that way.

Mr. Penhaligon

Does the Minister believe that the answer that he gave, in a technical state, represents sufficient input by the state in maintaining the level of skills required for the technical battles in which our country will clearly be involved with the rest of Europe and the world over the next 30 or 40 years?

Mr. Morrison

As the hon. Gentleman is probably aware, there are plans for 150 information technology centres throughout the country, and 100 have already opened. At 1982–83 prices, the difference between 1979 and 1983 means that we have more than doubled the budget.

Mr. Sheerman

Will the Minister consider uprating the funding given to local authority managing agents so that it is comparable to that of the private sector managing agents, so that they can do a better job in high technology?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman will understand that the managing agents come from both the private and public sectors, and it would be wrong to give the public sector distinct advantages over the private sector.