HC Deb 03 April 1984 vol 57 cc794-5
4. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what will be the effect on further education colleges of the cut in mode B youth training scheme provision.

Sir Keith Joseph

In 1983–84 many approved places for mode B schemes were not filled. The reduction in provision is intended to lead to a closer match between supply and demand, giving colleges a sounder basis for planning.

Mr. Ashton

Is the Minister not aware that the places were not filled because industry is running at half pace? Five years ago, North Nottinghamshire technical college in my constituency turned out 80 skilled apprentices. The figure has now fallen to 30. Under these proposals, no skilled apprentices will be turned out. Instead, the Manpower Services Commission will turn out a handful of lads for bucket and ladder jobs. In such a situation, how will we produce the skills and technology that are needed to put the country back on its feet?

Sir Keith Joseph

The hon. Gentleman must recognise that the technologies of the industries that he has in mind have changed dramatically and that in recent years they have gone through a grisly period as they have tried to recover their competitiveness. As a result, the numbers of apprenticeships have been very much reduced. However, I am glad to say that the Government, the employers and the education service are dramatically increasing the number of places in the new technologies, where there is a huge demand.

Mr. Lyell

A great many of the places provided last year at a wasted cost of up to £70 million were used to train no one. We must get the right match, so that the many good B1 schemes are taken up by young people and the others are abandoned, with the money being used more wisely elsewhere.

Sir Keith Joseph

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. A more effective deployment of the money is the motive underlying my answer to the question asked by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton).

Mr. Sheerman

Some of the best mode B1 and B2 schemes are being cut, with no evaluation of how good they are. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many people believe that there is no consultation between the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Employment before the savage cuts which affect the future of our further education colleges and our young people are made?

Sir Keith Joseph

Those are wild allegations. The reduction in the number of mode B places simply reflects the fact that there was not a demand for all the places provided last year.

Mr. Hayes

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that last year there were 95,000 mode B1 places available, that the uptake was 55,000, and that the Government have cut back the number of places to 75,000?

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friend's figures are more or less the same as mine, except that he is bringing together the mode B1 and mode B2 figures. My figures are slightly different, but show a similar lack of demand for the places that were available.