HC Deb 13 February 1990 vol 167 cc125-6
2. Mr. John Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the take-up and retention rates on employment training schemes.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Tim Eggar)

Over 580,000 people have started employment training in little over a year. That is the biggest take-up of any adult training programme ever. People are currently spending an average of just over six months on the programme.

Mr. Evans

Will the Minister confirm that a substantial number of people who are offered employment training places drop out, frequently because the schemes are poor, under-resourced, and badly managed? In view of Britain's increasing and serious skills shortage, does he agree that a new approach is required that includes the trade unions? What is he prepared to do to persuade the trade unions to participate with him in his determination to improve skills in Great Britain?

Mr. Eggar

The key point is that 58 per cent. of people on employment training were shown in a recent survey to find jobs, to go into self-employment or further training or to go on to education when they had completed their training. Those who do not complete employment training do not have such a good record for entering jobs. The message is absolutely clear. Employment training is good quality training and if it is followed through, individuals are more likely to obtain jobs.

Mr. Butler

Does my hon. Friend agree that if Opposition Members believe in the scheme, they should have a word with Left-wing councils that refuse to co-operate on employment training?

Mr. Eggar

It is extremely regrettable that a small minority of councils, including St. Helens district council, refuse to associate themselves with employment training. That is against the interests of unemployed people in those council areas.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Is the Minister aware that the Greater Manchester archaeological unit is about to put its ET scheme into effective liquidation? That will mean that in that city the first and second largest ET schemes will have gone out of business. Is he further aware that the reason why the scheme has failed is not poor quality management, but that the scheme is so underfunded that it is impossible to keep it financially viable? Is he aware that because take-up and retention are falling, many schemes throughout the country will go exactly the same way as that one in Manchester?

Mr. Eggar

Employment training is the best adult training programme that we have ever had in Britain. It will be taken over progressively by training and enterprise councils, which will have added flexibility to respond to local labour market conditions. That must be good for people who want good quality training when they have been unemployed for a time. I should be happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman in some detail about the training management to which he. referred, if he so wishes.