HC Deb 18 March 1986 vol 94 cc153-5
9. Mr. Pike

asked the Paymaster General if he will make a statement on the levels of youth employment.

Mr. Trippier

Our youth training measures will help young people to take advantage of the extra jobs which our economic policies are producing.

Mr. Pike

Are the Government not concerned about the very serious high level of real unemployment among the young? Are they not concerned about those who will leave the youth training scheme in April? No provision has been made for them. They will face real unemployment. When will the Government take positive steps to get the young people of this country into jobs?

Mr. Trippier

I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman heard the replies that were given by my right hon. and learned Friend about the reduction in the level of unemployment among the young. Between January 1985 and January 1986 there was a reduction of 10,900 in the number of young people out of work. Far fewer young people are out of work this year than were out of work last year. That is a smaller proportion of the total number of people who are unemployed.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

Will my hon. Friend draw to the attention of a wider audience the extraordinary potential for developing self-employment and encouraging enterprise that the Genesis programme offers within the youth training scheme? Is my hon. Friend able to assure me that the Genesis programme has a secure future?

Mr. Trippier

I have been very impressed by what I have seen of the Genesis programme. It is a management agency which is trying to develop the ethos of self-employment among youth training scheme trainees. Many of those who are on the scheme have set up in business on their own account. I understand that some of them are employing others. The Manpower Services Commission is working on a module which will try to develop and strengthen enterprise within the YTS programme.

Mr. Janner

Does the Minister understand that the continuing and cavalier dismissal of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Employment concerning youth unemployment and general unemployment is disgraceful and that his right hon. and learned Friend has again said that many of the proposals are impracticable? However the Government may massage the unemployment figures, the fact is that this Government are presiding over the highest level of youth and other unemployment in the history of this country and that they are doing very little about it.

Mr. Trippier

I have adequately covered the hon. and learned Gentleman's last point. There has been a reduction in the number of unemployed young people under the age of 18. We are not in any way treating in a cavalier fashion the Select Committee's recommendations. They will receive our full consideration. However, what we want to know, and what my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury wants to know from the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), is who will pay the bill at the end of the day.

Mr. Greenway

Does my hon. Friend agree that most of the young unemployed had few or no qualifications when they left school and that the teachers' strike has not helped them? Will his Department do everything possible to bring the teachers' industrial action to an early end?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is very wide of the question.

Mr. Trippier

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for drawing my hon. Friend 's attention to the fact that that is not a matter for me. However, the point raised earlier by my hon. Friend is a matter for me. There is clear recognition by the Government that our young work force lacks skills. There is a shortage of young people trained in skills, and we have therefore designed programmes and schemes to cope with that.

Mr. Sheerman

May I puncture the Minister's complacency by telling him that one third of a million young people are unemployed and have never been employed? Is he aware that it would take a tripling of the community programme to cater for those up to the age of 25? What do the Government propose to do about the one third of a million young people who have never worked?

Mr. Trippier

We are by no means complacent about the level of youth unemployment. We have been working hard trying to develop schemes and programmes to help those youngsters get jobs. We are clearly on the right lines, as shown by the figures that have been given by my right hon. and learned Friend and by myself.