HC Deb 16 March 1993 vol 221 cc151-2
1. Mrs. Helen Jackson

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of students entering TEC courses in the Sheffield area (a) complete their course and (b) obtain employment when they finish.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Patrick McLoughlin)

In Sheffield in 1991–92, 34 per cent. of people leaving youth training and 61 per cent. of those leaving employment training had completed their agreed training. 51 per cent. and 32 per cent. respectively of all those leaving courses were in employment six months after leaving.

Mrs. Jackson

In view of those appalling figures, showing that, at the end of youth training, two out of every three people on the scheme have no job to go to, and that two out of every three students on employment training are still out of work six months later, does the Minister accept that it is now time to put resources and money into real education and training for manufacturing jobs, and to make resources available so that local authorities can finance students properly through discretionary grants?

Mr. McLoughlin

I am sure that the hon. Lady will welcome the fact that, since 1986, unemployment in her constituency has fallen by about 24 per cent., and in the constituency of Sheffield, Central by 21 per cent. In Sheffield, Brightside, unemployment has fallen by 21 per cent. since 1986, and in Sheffield, Hallam by about 36 per cent. I should have thought that even the hon. Lady would have welcomed that.

Mr. Sykes

Is my hon. Friend aware that, some time ago, when Hamleys, the famous toy shop in Regent street, wanted to resettle in Sheffield, it was said that its rates in Sheffield would be higher than the rates in Regent street? Does my hon. Friend not agree that that is an example of the kind of ridiculous practices that Sheffield city council has pursued over the past 25 years?

Mr. McLoughlin

My hon. Friend's point about recruitment is true. That is why I am pleased that the Meadow Hall development has opened and made Sheffield council think carefully about how to attract business to its area.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Is it not astonishing that the Minister should answer the supplementary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson) by citing unemployment figures, of all things? For how many months now have the Government increased unemployment? Yet the Minister cites unemployment figures in their favour. Is not the reality that the training, whether on ET or YT, and whether in Sheffield or nationwide, is pathetic, and that fewer than a quarter of the people on ET and fewer than one third of those on YT obtain a qualification? The last thing we need today is more promises of cheap low-quality training. What does the Minister intend to do to give decent-quality training to people out of work?

Mr. McLoughlin

What is pathetic is the way in which the Opposition continually carp and talk about training, yet have opposed every training scheme that the Government have introduced.

Mr. Evennett

Will my hon. Friend confirm that Britain is the only country in Europe that offers training places to 16 and 17-year-olds without a job? Should we not therefore be grateful, and encourage young people to take up the training places, with a view to getting jobs at the end of the placement?

Mr. McLoughlin

Indeed, my hon. Friend is right. Most young people who go on courses appreciate that youth training has been a substantial help in finding employment. The Opposition have said many times that we are failing to meet the youth training guarantee, but they have gone off talking about that subject because of the successful manner in which the TECs have managed to fulfil the guarantee overall.