§ 2. Mr. Flannery
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many young people are currently engaged on Government training schemes.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Michael Howard)
There are 377,700 young people currently engaged on Government training schemes. That figure does not include young people being educated and trained in the 29 inner city compacts and the 3,000 schools and colleges involved in the technical and vocational education initiative, which together cover a further 656,000 young people.
§ Mr. Flannery
I hope that the Minister will agree that the quality of training depends on the availability of resources to train young people. Why is he cutting the cost per unit for training of our young people when our competitors in West Germany, for instance, are giving far more than we do to train their young people? Will the Secretary of State give serious thought to that when seeking to justify those cuts to the House?
§ Mr. Howard
One thing that we are often told about West Germany is the contribution that employers make to the training of young people there. The hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that the contribution made by our employers to the training of young people here has increased from £33 million to £200 million in the past four years. We expect that trend to continue and to contribute a great deal towards increasing the quality of training for our young people.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall the criticisms that were made of the youth opportunities programme and the improvements that have been made in YTS? Would he like to tell the House that four out of every five people who go on a youth training scheme either get a job or go on to further education? Does he agree that that is a considerable achievement?
§ Mr. Howard
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is no comparison between the virtually nothing that was 143 done for training young people when the Labour Government were in office and the quality training received by 2 million people under the youth training scheme. My hon. Friend was right in his identification of the proportion who go into jobs or further education.
§ Mr. Blair
Will the Secretary of State confirm that the new contracts for training providers, especially in the voluntary sector, are in a state of near chaos with literally thousands of training places for those with special training needs being put at risk? Is he aware that one voluntary organisation, for the resettlement of young offenders, has put the whole of its 250 youth training staff under threat of redundancy? What steps is the Secretary of State taking as a matter of urgency to ensure that those with special training needs—the most vulnerable in our work force—are not the first casualties of the enormous cut in youth training?
§ Mr. Howard
I certainly will not confirm what the hon. Gentleman has said. The contracts with the training providers are still under negotiation. They have not yet been finalised. When we finalise them we shall take full account of those with special needs. Before the hon. Gentleman talks about resources, he should have a word with the shadow Chief Secretary who has conspicuously omitted to include training as one of the two priority areas on which it is claimed that a Labour Government would increase spending.
§ Mr. Tredinnick
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that Employment Training Services (East Midlands) Ltd. at Hinckley in my constituency, which was formed under his programme, has been so successful that it has had a 90 per cent. occupancy rate with 50 per cent. of those being trained there going on to take up jobs? Indeed, I was privileged to be able to open its new training centre in March this year.
§ Mr. Howard
I know of the close interest that my hon. Friend takes in that scheme, which is typical of the excellence of the training being provided for young people all over the country.