HC Deb 04 March 1986 vol 93 cc133-4
1. Mr. Michie

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the relationship of Her Majesty's Inspectorate to the YTS Inspectorate being established within the Manpower Services Commission.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)

The two organisations will be entirely separate. Contacts between them will develop as the pattern of work of the training standards advisory service becomes established. I am confident that the present constructive relationship between Her Majesty's Inspectorate and the Manpower Services Commission will continue.

Mr. Michie

Is the Minister aware that there is growing concern in education and training circles that a separate and distinctive inspectorate is likely to encourage further division between the two rather than what we all wish, which is much more co-operation. It also compounds suspicion that there is likely to be a difference in standards between education and the YTS.

Mr. Patten

Those suspicions are not well founded. Obviously there is some overlap between the functions of the two bodies, and there is a considerable need for liaison. I do not think it should be impossible to achieve that greater liaison.

Mr. Sheerman

The Minister, in one of his illustrious speeches, called for education and training to be part of the same thing—learning. Why, then, are the Government to set up a new kind of inspectorate that is different and does not talk on an intimate basis to the other and is not part of the same body? Why can we not have one inspectorate for all kinds of educational training?

Mr. Patten

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman reads my speeches. I do not think that it should be impossible to secure greater liaison. I think that there is a slight difference between on-the-job and off-the-job training. It is appropriate that there should be different bodies.

2. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received on the educational content of YTS.

Mr. Chris Patten

My right hon. Friend has received no recent representations on this aspect of YTS.

Mr. Hoyle

Does the Minister not realise that there is only 20 weeks off-the-job training on a two-year YTS course, as against the 26 weeks recommended by educationists and, indeed, the MSC model schemes? Does he agree that the lack of educational content makes a nonsense of the so-called quality training that he is seeking to achieve? It would be impossible to achieve.

Mr. Patten

No. The figure of 20 weeks off-the-job education and training agreed by the MSC for the two-year YTS is a minimum requirement. Longer periods will be encouraged when these are suggested by the trainee's needs when a vocational course is pursued.

Mr. Lawler

Unlike my hon. Friend, I do not have a brief to read from. Will he say whether the certificate of pre-vocational education will be widely available to YTS trainees during their two-year scheme?

Mr. Patten

We hope to develop CPVE in that way. I think I am right in saying that so far about 15,000 students in about 1,000 institutions are on the CPVE course. That is a good start and I hope to see better achievements next year.

Mr. Sheerman

The Minister's answer was rather complacent. Is it not a fact that the model scheme which the MSC pioneered had a 26–week off-the-job educational content? That was an important part. Is it not worrying that we read in the papers this morning that the only young member of the Youth Training Board is considering resigning because he is worried about the whole provision and the quality of YTS, and about whether there will be a guarantee that what a YTS trainee is promised is delivered by the employer?

Mr. Patten

I do not acccept what the hon. Gentleman has said. The intention of the two-year YTS is to enable young people to get the chance to work for a qualification, and I hope that we shall be able to achieve that.