HC Deb 13 February 1990 vol 167 cc130-1
9. Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his latest estimate of the date for completion of the TEC network.

Mr. Howard

I expect the complete training and enterprise council network in England and Wales to be in place by the end of the year. That will be two years ahead of schedule.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the combination of the completion of the TEC network with the new youth training scheme by vouchers will provide exciting new opportunities to enable Britain's youth to meet today's needs?

Mr. Howard

The councils will provide an exciting framework and exciting initiatives with or without vouchers, at which, as my hon. Friend knows, we are still looking.

Mrs. Mahon

Is the Minister aware that many of the employers he has put in charge of the TECs are the same employers who failed to provide training in the past? How does he expect anybody to have confidence in the scheme?

Mr. Howard

I am surprised that the hon. Lady should take that attitude to the TECs, which have received a widespread welcome and are setting about their tasks with tremendous enthusiasm. We should all welcome that. They represent one of the most exciting training initiatives ever in Britain.

Mr. Rowe

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the energy and enthusiasm with which his Department has pursued new initiatives over the years, which has been copied by local authorities, has ended up with a number of employers having no clear idea whether TECs are much more important than any other initiative? Will he ensure that they are made aware of the enormous importance of getting in early on the TEC act?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend is right. We have more to do to bring home the advantages of the TECs to all concerned and I welcome his co-operation in achieving that objective.

Mr. Fatchett

Now that it is acknowledged that YTS has been a failure for a generation of young people in Britain, will the Secretary of State confirm that his Department is considering training vouchers for the 16 to 19 age group? If so, will he also confirm that those training vouchers will be under the control of the TECs, and will he give us some guarantee that their value will be sufficient to ensure that all youngsters can go on a course of their choice at a place of their choice?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman's opening remarks were a pathetic misrepresentation of the youth training scheme. I have already confirmed to my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Dr. Goodson-Wickes) that we are looking at the CBI's proposals for vouchers. If we decide that they represent the way forward, we shall make an announcement at the appropriate time.

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