HC Deb 26 June 1997 vol 296 cc978-9
11. Mr. Gordon Marsden

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to move young unemployed people into training. [4100]

Dr. Howells

The Government have a wide range of proposals to involve young people in quality training. We shall take them forward on a firm basis of consultation and partnership.

Mr. Marsden

I thank my hon. Friend for those comments, which I am sure will be welcome to my constituents in Blackpool who have been relentlessly affected by high unemployment, particularly in the youth sector. Seasonal unemployment, particularly in coastal and seaside towns, remains an important issue. Many of my constituents, particularly women in low-paid jobs, have problems in that respect. What specific plans and assurances can he offer to take into account seasonal unemployment when training programmes are put into effect?

Dr. Howells

I am well aware of the special problems that arise from the seasonal nature of many employment opportunities in seaside and tourism centres such as my hon. Friend's constituency. I am also aware that young people there have the lowest staying-on rate in the west Lancashire area and that there is high unemployment among 16 and 17-year-olds. My hon. Friend will know that the Government have pledged themselves to a range of measures, included in Target 2000, to get all 16 and 17-year-olds on the road to a proper qualification. We plan to replace the failed youth training programme with high-quality training and we will give under-18s in work the right to study for an approved qualification. Combined with a concerted drive to attract new employment to west Lancashire, we believe that we can make real inroads into addressing youth unemployment.

Mr. Dorrell

The Government make a great deal of their welfare-to-work proposals. They have also made it absolutely clear that those proposals will be paid for by the so-called windfall levy. How will the schemes be funded when the windfall is exhausted?

Dr. Howells

I thought that that was obvious. The windfall levy will help to perform the trick that the previous Government, whom we displaced recently, could not perform—getting people back to work so that they start paying taxes and the unemployment rate and the benefits bill fall. That is how we will achieve our targets.

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