HC Deb 17 October 1995 vol 264 cc133-4
7. Mr. Mans

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the Government are doing to encourage links between schools and industry. [35996]

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The Government continue to promote a wide range of activities, both departmentally and with other organisations, aimed at developing closer links between schools and industry.

Mr. Mans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the support that British Aerospace gives schools in my part of Lancashire sets an example that should be followed by other firms? Will she do all that she can to encourage other firms to do precisely that?

Mrs. Shephard

I am aware that British Aerospace, in backing the setting up of technology colleges, is giving a great deal of support to this area of educational work. Although I am absolutely delighted by British Aerospace's commitment, 200 industrial sponsors are backing 101 technology colleges and six language colleges which have been approved. Their support amounts to £11 million of sponsorship.

Mrs. Clwyd

Has the Minister looked at the recent health and safety statistics on accidents at work, which show an increase in accidents in manufacturing industry among school-age children? When will the Government act to enforce the law to end the scandal of 1.5 million school-age children working illegally in Britain?

Mrs. Shephard

The Government cannot condone any kind of illegal practices in employment. If the hon. Lady would like to send me details, they will be looked at.

Sir Donald Thompson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that teachers benefit just as much as pupils from links with industry?

Mrs. Shephard

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend. More than 160,000 teachers have taken industry placements since 1989.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

Given that both schools and colleges are involved in providing academic and vocational training, does the Minister agree that we need a new partnership—not competition—between schools, colleges of further education, training and enterprise councils and industry so that they can provide the best quality of training for 16 to 18-year-olds in a highly competitive job environment? If extra resources are necessary to deliver that partnership, will she make them available?

Mrs. Shephard

I shall not make any promises today on extra public expenditure, but the hon. Gentleman is right. There should be a productive partnership between training and enterprise councils, colleges and schools in given areas. Occasionally that spills over into extremely fierce competition, which usually results in benefits for the young people involved, but a careful eye must be kept on it.

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