HC Deb 25 June 1984 vol 62 cc668-70
2. Mr. Gareth Wardell

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of people were registered as unemployed in Wales under 25 years of age in April 1980 and April 1984, respectively.

7. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the most recent figures for the number of people aged under 25 years in Wales who are out of work; and how this compares with the figures of 12 months earlier.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

The latest information relates to April, when there were 67,085 unemployed claimants under 25 years of age in Wales, a percentage of 39.5. The figure for 1983 was 70,041. Comparable figures for April 1980 are not available.

Mr. Wardell

In April 1980, 17 per cent. of those 'who were unemployed under the age of 25 had been unemployed for more than one year. The equivalent figure in April 1984 was 31 per cent. Will the Secretary of State therefore follow the example of his counterpart in the Scottish Office and introduce a youth enterprise fund, which he has set up at the cost of about £400,000 to encourage youngsters between the ages of 16 and 25 to set up in their own businesses?

Mr. Edwards

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will at least welcome the fact that recently there has been some reduction in this sector of unemployment. We have, as he is aware, a wide range of schemes to assist the development of new businesses and enterprise schemes generally. I do not believe that that age group is neglected in that respect. I shall certainly consider whether there is any lesson to be learnt from the Scottish experience that we could extend to Wales. We always seek to see whether we can learn from these experiments in different parts of the country.

Mr. Wigley

Does the Secretary of State feel, in view of the tremendous emphasis placed 12 months ago on getting young people into the new scheme which the Manpower Services Commission was developing, that this comparison shows a bleak prospect, and that by September it is likely that a large number of young people under 25 will have come off MSC schemes with no jobs in prospect? Can he not announce a new initiative?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the youth training scheme is still new. If one considers some of the other schemes, one sees that about 50 per cent. of the entrants of the commmunity programme fall into that category. We have a wide range of schemes. It is striking, in all the factories that I have visited during the past three or four weeks, such as AB electronics, which is currently taking on more than 1,000 new people, and British Telecom, which is producing new products, how many young people are being taken on to work in the new technologies. That is much more important in the long run than any new schemes we can introduce, and it is the best prospect for the future.

Mr. Raffan

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the MSC survey of youth training scheme leavers published in April, showing over 40 per cent. of them in work, illustrates the success of the scheme and is a tremendous tribute to those running it? Does he agree also that it completely refutes the shameful and shoddy attack on the scheme by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), who said that thousands of youngsters in Wales were being conned into fraudulent schemes for which no real jobs exist?

Mr. Edwards

I am sure that anyone who has studied these schemes will realise their value. I should like to join in paying tribute to those from the trade unions, industry, local government and the voluntary sector who are making them such a success. I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Rogers

Before the Secretary of State gets carried away, with the help of his boys from behind, to the position where he says that there is probably no unemployment in Wales, will he say what practical steps he is taking about the continually rising unemployment figures?

Mr. Edwards

A range of measures are in operation, through the Welsh Development Agency, in conjunction with other Government organisations. I could spell out at great length, but you would bring me up short, Mr. Speaker, the record levels of new factory applications and SFA applications, as well as many new projects and inward investment programmes. They will all provide jobs for the future.

Mr. Barry Jones

Will the Minister undertake to read a very sobering report from Clwyd's principal careers officer, who expressed his fears last week that as many as 1,250 youngsters will return to the dole queue after their youth training scheme courses? Does the Minister comprehend that, with 23,000 Clwyd citizens jobless, the long-term unemployment figures are higher than 40 per cent.? We are very grateful for the contribution of the youth training scheme, but parents in Clwyd very much wish their youngsters to have real jobs.

Mr. Edwards

Yes, I shall read the report. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we are looking for real jobs. That is why I very much welcome the employment provided by a range of new companies, of which Sharp is probably the most spectacular in that part of Wales.