HC Deb 31 October 1989 vol 159 c163
6. Mr. Robert B. Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of school-industry compacts.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Norman Fowler)

Forty compacts are being supported by the Training Agency. To date, some 230 schools and more than 30,000 young people are participating in compact arrangements, actively supported by more than 1,000 employers and training providers. By any standards, the initiative has made a very impressive start.

Mr. Jones

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for those encouraging figures. Will he confirm that they apply to urban programme authorities, not to authorities in general, and that there is also merit in compact-like arrangements in other local education authorities, from which employers, schools and businesses may profit?

Mr. Fowler

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend makes a good point. Compact arrangements, which were introduced only last year, have been targeted at inner-city areas. That is where the priority is, but I believe that such arrangements can be extended elsewhere.

Mr. Morley

I welcome compact agreements, but does the Minister agree that they come nowhere near meeting the increasing skills shortage? Is he aware that more and more industries are saying that the Government are not doing enough to provide support in tackling skills shortages? In particular, employment training does not offer the specialised and relevant training that we need in a modern society.

Mr. Fowler

The question has nothing to do with employment training for the long-term unemployed. We are talking about young people. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will support compact arrangements, which have taken off dramatically and provide good training and, above all, opportunities for young people in inner-city areas.