HC Deb 15 March 1994 vol 239 cc732-3
5. Mr. Hendry:

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what initiatives his Department is taking to support the foyer initiative to co-ordinate accommodation, training and employment policies for young people.

Miss Widdecombe

The Department has contributed nearly half a million pounds to the foyer initiative through support for the employment and training elements of five pilot foyers, secondment of staff and funding for publicity material. In addition, the Department of the Environment, through the Housing Corporation, is providing several million pounds' worth of capital and revenue support.

Mr. Hendry

I thank my hon. Friend for that statement of the degree of Government support for the foyer initiative. Can she confirm that an analysis of the foyer programme shows that up to 60 per cent. of previously homeless unemployed youngsters have ended up in accommodation and in work or training? Does not the foyer initiative show, at its most effective, the way in which Government Departments are working together and co-operating to tackle a range of problems that confront young people?

Miss Widdecombe

I am delighted to confirm to my hon. Friend that so far foyers have been successful. According to the Young Men's Christian Association report, 567 young people have taken part; a third have begun training; more than half have begun job search; and 180 have been placed in permanent jobs and 74 in temporary jobs.

Mr. Clapham

The skills levels among the British work force are about 40 per cent. of those of our major competitors. Obviously there has been a lack of investment since 1979. Why are the Department and the Government failing to pick up the aid package that is on offer from the EEC?

Miss Widdecombe

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that that there has been no lack of investment. What is more, the investment is not only Government investment. About £20 billion comes from the private sector. If Opposition Members are seriously worried about skills shortages, do they welcome national vocational qualifications, general national vocational qualifications and modern apprenticeships—all measures which the Government have taken to improve the skills level in this country?