HC Deb 24 June 1986 vol 100 cc164-5
5. Dr. Michael Clark

asked the Paymaster General what proportion of the funds allocated to the two year YTS programme will be used to assist young people to obtain skills and qualifications in engineering and science.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. David Trippier)

About one-third of all entrants to YTS in 1985–86 joined schemes covering engineering and science. We are very conscious of the need for sufficient numbers of young people to be trained to secure the future of these vital sectors.

Dr. Clark

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. As science and engineering are so vital to the British economy, as there is a shortage of potential employees with these skills, and as there are so many fine young people on the YTS who would benefit from science and engineering training, will he ensure that the expenditure on training in these skills is at least maintained, and possibly enhanced?

Mr. Trippier

I welcome my hon. Friend's question. It gives me an opportunity to pay a warm tribute to him for the interest that he shows in the YTS in general and in his constituency in particular. He has a valid point. We find the figures that I gave in answer to the substantive question very encouraging.

Mr. Madden

Have the Government not done immense harm to engineering and science by reducing the moneys available to such institutions as Bradford university and by presiding over the decimation of engineering apprenticeships?

Mr. Trippier

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman had framed his supplementary question before hearing my answer to the substantive question. The figure that I gave was extremely encouraging, and the trend shown by the figure is strengthening and developing all the time.

Mr. Rowe

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the experience of many of the admirable experiments that he has been carrying out shows that many young people who did not have formal qualifications from school have shown themselves remarkably adept at learning the skills needed in our modern society? Will he also confirm that worrying skill shortages are developing? Will he assure us that the YTS is being used imaginatively to bridge those two concepts?

Mr. Trippier

I give my hon. Friend precisely that assurance. It is one of the main aims of industry in 1986 that we should, wherever possible, match the skill shortages to those people coming off the YTS. Having seen the number of places that are available and the take-up, which exceeds 90 per cent., we are very encouraged.

Mr. Sheerman

If the Minister is genuinely interested in figures, has he seen the estimate by the Engineering Industry Training Board that we shall be short of 4,000 apprenticeships a year in engineering? Has he seen the figures given by Institute of Manpower Studies, which show that there is a lower level of employees in manufacturing industry in training than ever before? In 1967, 5.5 per cent. of employees were in training; in 1982 the figure was 3.2 per cent., and now in 1985, only 2 per cent. That means that there are only 112,000 young people in training in the whole of manufacturing industry. Is this not a condemnation of the Government's policies, and is it not time to have a comprehensive, compulsory training programme to get our country back to the training skills that it needs?

Mr. Trippier

Why does the hon. Gentleman refer to a training hoard that is compulsory? I cannot understand the connection between it and his question, because the training board that he mentioned is statutory, and is remaining.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House — I know him too well for that. However, the ITBs said that that situation would occur unless more engineering employers invested in training instead of seeing it as cost.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that for the latest period for which statistics are available 71 per cent. of the YTS leavers in my constituency have gone into work and that one of the reasons for this great success is the emphasis on technology and science?

Mr. Trippier

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's question. Obviously we are looking forward to the time when the two-year YTS increases the percentage of people who find full-time employment.