HC Deb 13 June 1995 vol 261 cc583-4
4. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what advice his Department gives to unemployed people who cannot find places on the training for work programmes. [26472]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Paice)

There are a large number of training places for those seeking them, and for whom training is the best course of action, but training is not necessarily the priority need of all unemployed people. That is why the Employment Service provides a range of help, including jobmatch, 1–2–1, workwise, the travel-to-interview scheme, job search seminars and many others.

With your permission, Madam Speaker, I shall remain standing.

Mr. Williams

Because of changes that the Minister's Department has introduced in the training for work programme in the past year, requiring training providers to choose people who are most likely to have a successful outcome, my local authority, Dyfed county council, has had to cut its programme of 260 places by more than 100 places this year. Are not young people who are being rejected now being doubly disadvantaged? They are out of work yet are also being rejected even from lowly places on training schemes.

Mr. Paice

I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, who is responsible for training schemes in Wales, has written to the hon. Gentleman on this subject.

Under the training for work scheme, in both England and Wales we have adopted special measures to ensure that those with special training needs, and those at a particular disadvantage, are protected. The output payments are considerably higher for those people than for others, and in England, at any rate, we have ring-fenced the numbers involved so that there can be a diminution in the number of people with special needs who undertake training in training for work programmes. We have addressed, quite properly, the very issue that concerns the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Evennett

I welcome my hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box. Conservative Members are pleased to have him back with us.

Does my hon. Friend agree that what most people want are jobs? They want to be trained to get a job; they do not just want training for its own sake. My hon. Friend's policies, therefore, are designed to provide jobs for people, not just training for its own sake.

Mr. Paice

My hon. Friend is entirely right. The 2.3 million unemployed people in this country are not a homogeneous mass; they are a vast range of different people with different skills, different personal requirements and different needs in the jobs market. That is why it is right for us to provide a range of opportunities. There is exactly the same number of opportunities this year as last year: 1.5 million different opportunities involving training, help with interview skills, help with travelling to interviews and help with searching for jobs, through jobclubs. We provide that range because it is what people need.

Mr. Barnes

I am glad that the Minister recognises that training does not always constitute adequate provision. In fact, in many cases it is not all that hot. Research suggests that more general educational provision is useful to adults, providing them with inroads into educational opportunities. According to a research document on miners who have been made unemployed in south Yorkshire and north-east Derbyshire, produced by the adult education department of Sheffield university, adult education makes an important contribution to solving the problems of unemployment, and the provision of training skills is inadequate.

Mr. Paice

The report to which the hon. Gentleman draws my attention will not be launched until tomorrow, and I have therefore had no chance to study it. He is, however, right in saying that training is not the only requirement; some people need an enhancement of their educational base, and that too is possible through some of our programmes.

The hon. Gentleman is rightly concerned about former miners who lost their jobs through the restructuring of the mining industry. The good news is that unemployment is falling in all mining areas, as it is in the rest of the country.