HC Deb 16 January 1990 vol 165 cc149-50
8. Mr. Hayes

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of the youth access initiative.

Mr. Eggar

I am pleased with the progress of this initiative, which is at the pilot stage. It seeks to develop partnerships between business and education specifically to take young people who would normally not continue their education after the age of 16, through further education and into higher education.

Mr. Hayes

Does my hon. Friend agree that with the demographic time bomb ticking away, it is vital that young people have early access to industry? Will he confirm that the Training Agency will provide an additional £200,000 to the initiative, which should be welcomed?

Mr. Eggar

I readily confirm that to my hon. Friend. The pilot schemes are important. They will follow the line that we established with the technical and vocational education initiative, training and enterprise councils and higher education. All those schemes designed to bring together education, training and work experience.

Ms. Armstrong

Does the Minister recognise that in the past 10 years the level of skills that our young people attained has been much lower than before? Does he recognise that we must pay attention to the quality of training opportunities for our young people and that we have a long way to go before we come anywhere near meeting the potential of young people and the country's need for trained personnel for the future?

Mr. Eggar

It is common ground that we need to improve the quality of our training and skills. It is important that employers and employees combine with the Government and the voluntary agencies to raise the level of skills throughout the country during the next decade. That is a major challenge to us all.

Mr. Fatchett

How far does the Minister feel responsible for the fact that during the past 10 years the level of skills among young people here has deteriorated in comparison with the skills of West German and French youngsters? He does not need to take my word for that because that is the conclusion of the Confederation of British Industry report on education and training.

Mr. Eggar

I readily take responsibility for the Government's excellent youth training scheme which later developed into youth training and for the formation of the training and enterprise councils. All those schemes will have a tremendous beneficial impact on our levels of skills and training in the 1990s.

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