§ 3. Mr. Martin
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to introduce further training initiatives in Scotland in respect of people who have been unemployed for more than two years.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allen Stewart)
The Government have just received from the Manpower Services Commission proposals on the training and retraining needs of adults, both in employment and unemployed, following the publication in April of the commission's discussion paper "Towards an Adult Training Strategy". The commission's proposals, which will apply to Scotland as much as to other parts of Great Britain, will obviously merit the most careful study.
§ Mr. Martin
Is the Minister aware that many employers involved in the North sea oil sector cannot find coded welders capable of working to high standards and who can undergo the Lloyd's safety test? Would not many of the unemployed welders with a reasonable amount of training be capable of reaching the required standards? Will the Minister consider introducing a scheme to help overcome the shortage of skilled workmen?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that the Government are spending a great deal on various training schemes in Scotland. However, I shall examine his proposals in detail.
§ Mr. Malone
Does my hon. Friend agree that some provision is being made by the private sector to meet the need referred to by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin)? Does he welcome the intitiative by Shell Expro of Aberdeen and Grampian regional council to provide 50 training places over a four-year period for technicians in the North sea sector?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. He is right to emphasise that training must be a partnership between the public and private sectors.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
Is the Minister aware that the industrial training education centre at Bellshill industrial estate, which was opened recently with a great flourish by the Strathclyde regional council, could fall flat on its face because of a lack of funds? Will he make inquiries to determine what assistance he can give to that scheme?
I shall inquire into the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman. I have opened one ITEC and have a great regard for what they can achieve.
§ Mr. Maxton
Does the Minister agree that the major problem in training is that many companies have had to cut back on their orders because of the Government's economic policies? Is the aware that those companies are no longer in a position to train new apprentices? For example, the Weir Pumps company, which has had such a splendid record in training, can now take on only four or five apprentices rather than the 400 or 500 that it used to take on a few years ago.
We all recognise that a number of companies have had to cut back because of the recession, but I emphasise that the Government are putting immense resources into training. For example, the modular approach in the action plan for 16 to 18-year-olds will demonstrate how training can be made relevant to the changing needs of the Scottish industrial scene.