HC Deb 21 July 1987 vol 120 cc193-4
4. Mr. Andrew Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what measures he is taking to ensure that YTS training is of a high quality.

Mr. Cope

We are working with the Manpower Services Commission to build up the quality of training on YTS so that every trainee will he working towards a recognised vocational qualification from an appropriate examining body. From April 1988 all YTS providers will have to meet the stringent standards laid down for approved training organisations. And the training standards advisory service now provides quality audits of YTS schemes.

Mr. Mitchell

Given that in my constituency 65 per cent. of young people on YTS have graduated to full-time employment, what steps has the Minister taken to spread this good news more widely?

Mr. Cope

We do our best — so does the Manpower Services Commission — to spread the news, particularly about the quality of YTS, as much as possible. The best advertisement for YTS are those who have done it. That is the theme of the television advertising campaign that the MSC is undertaking.

Ms. Armstrong

Does the Minister recognise that there are great regional variations both in the quality of the YTS schemes on offer and in the number of young people who succeed in obtaining jobs at the end of their training, and that in the north we suffer on both counts? What will the Minister do to redress the balance and ensure that young people in the north are given the same opportunities as exist in other regions?

Mr. Cope

I am afraid that there are bound to be regional variations in everything. That is why we are having this drive to increase the quality of YTS, not only in the south, but in the north.

Mr. Oppenheim

When my hon. Friend has a moment to do so, will he look at the Labour party's 1979 election manifesto, which boasted that the then youth oppor-tunities programme was the finest training programme in Europe? Why is it that Opposition Members thought that that was a fine training programme when its much improved successor, the YTS, is constantly whinged about?

Mr. Cope

I suppose that it was the best that they could think of in 1979, and I am sorry that they do n at recognise that YTS is an improved version of it.

Mr. Sheerman

Surely the Minister knows, as we know in Yorkshire, that one gets owt for nowt? Unless we spend more money and resources on youth training, it will never make good the skills deficiencies that arc emerging throughout British industry and that are preventing our manufacturing base from recovering to the extent that it should.

Mr. Cope

I referred earlier to our manufacturing base. However, we are spending £1 billion a year on YTS, which is a lot of money.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my hon. Friend, who did an excellent job in his last appointment, as I am sure he will in this, ensure that one defect in the quality of YTS is remedied, namely, that if a young person is one day over the specified birth date when he enters the scheme he is kicked out of the two-year scheme after only one year in it?

Mr. Cope

Wherever we drew the line, I am afraid that there would be somebody who was one day on the wrong side of it. My hon. Friend was kind enough to raise a constituency case that drew attention to this problem. I have undertaken to look into it, and I shall do so.

Mr. Bruce

Does the Minister accept that within the nursing profession there is concern about the impact of YTS? First, it cuts across the Government's stated objective of providing more professional training within nursing. Secondly, the supervision that is required to ensure the required quality of training takes experienced nurses away from their prime job of looking after patients

Mr. Cope

I do not think that concern about YTS coming into the National Health Service is justified. We are doing our best to introduce YTS into many parts of the public service, and that is how it should be. To improve the quality of YTS we have introduced approved training organisations and the other measures.

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