HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc283-4
5. Mrs. Maureen Hicks

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the improvements made by switching from YTS to youth training.

Mr. Howard

New youth training builds and improves on the achievements of YTS. It offers the promise of a level 2 qualification or more for every trainee who can achieve it. It offers flexible design and duration of training and wider eligibility. It will provide improved help for those with special training needs and those seeking employment after training.

Mrs. Hicks

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, while a disappointing number of youngsters over 16 are staying on for further education, it is vital for the career development of young people and for the needs of the economy that we offer each and every young person who wants it, a tailor-made training, which truly assesses their individual needs, which, we hope, matches the needs of industry, particularly in relation to skill shortages, and which, most of all, guarantees them a good qualification that will be welcomed in the workplace and be highly regarded?

Mr. Howard

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The combination of new youth training and the training and enterprise councils offers us the best possible prospect of achieving the objectives that she identified.

Mr. Leighton

Will the Secretary of State please try to do better this year in protecting the budget of his Department than he did in last year's autumn expenditure round, when several hundred million pounds were lopped off the expenditure on employment training and youth training? In particular, will he note that the London borough of Newham feels cheated as do 20 other local authorities, because they wanted to co-operate with the Government on the technical and vocational education initiative but now find that the cash for it has been substantially cut? Does he appreciate that investing in the technical and vocational education of our young people is the best use that can be made of public money?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman, who follows those matters closely as Chairman of the Select Committee on Employment, will know that in the past four years funding for training has increased by 60 per cent. in real terms at a time when unemployment has halved. That is the context in which this year's settlement must be seen.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that two members of the England World cup football squad first acquired their footballing skills under YTS? Will he further confirm that the same opportunities for young people to develop their world-class football skills will be available under youth training?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend is entirely right. David Platt and Paul Gascoigne, who combined to score the goal that put England in the quarter final of the World cup, were both YTS trainees. I am confident that youth training will enable the England World cup team to do even better in 1994 than in 1990.

Mr. Blair

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that even after the recent Cabinet discussions, and despite the chaos caused by the cuts in the youth training budget for this year, he still intends to cut next year's budget by over £120 million? What went wrong? Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman lose or did he simply not fight?

Mr. Howard

As the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, there is no chaos. As I said to his hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), the Chairman of the Select Committee on Employment, and as he too knows perfectly well, spending on training has increased in real terms by 60 per cent. in the past four years at a time when unemployment has fallen by 50 per cent. That is a measure of the Government's commitment to training.