HC Deb 21 April 1998 vol 310 cc586-7
9. Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South)

What progress has been made on the new deal in Scotland [37622]

The Minister for Education and Industry, Scottish Office (Mr. Brian Wilson)

The new deal came on stream throughout Scotland on 6 April, having had a successful pathfinder area in Tayside since 4 January.

Miss Begg

I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that the measure of the success of the new deal in Scotland will be the number of young people who become more employable and find permanent jobs. There is a hard core of young people who are very disillusioned, however. There are many such youngsters in Aberdeen, where, despite the fact that unemployment is slightly lower than in other areas of Scotland, youngsters tend to be unemployed and may not have the qualities that employers seek. Is there any evidence—I accept that it may be anecdotal at this stage—that these hard-to-place youngsters are being given extra opportunities and are succeeding under the new deal where previous schemes have failed them?

Mr. Wilson

There is a great deal of evidence from the Tayside pathfinder area and from other experiences—the evidence is growing—that young people have a tremendous willingness to recognise that the new deal is different from, and better financed than, anything that has gone before, and that it is carefully tailored to their individual needs. On that basis, I am sure that my hon. Friend is right—the new deal will ensure not only that more people are employed, but that an awful lot of young people are employable, which is their first hurdle on the way, ultimately, to the world of work.

Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)

I hope that the Minister will accept that prevention is better than cure, and that some of the available resources should be put into careers guidance in schools and into enabling people who have missed out on such services to develop self-esteem and the ability to benefit from training. Will he help people to reach the threshold where they can benefit from the training that is provided?

Mr. Wilson

Absolutely—the careers service is fully involved in the delivery of the new deal. For many young people, the challenge is not simply to go directly into work, although many will do so—more than 100 young people have already found long-term employment in Dundee through the new deal. The challenge for the many others is to get over the hurdle of confidence and self-esteem, and to recognise that someone really is working to find an opportunity that is right for them—I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is exactly what the new deal is about.

Mrs. Rosemary McKenna (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

Many young people are putting a great deal of faith in the new deal, as we have asked them to do. What steps are being taken to ensure that the partnerships involved in delivering the new deal are robust, and to evaluate and monitor those partnerships?

Mr. Wilson

An immense amount of work is going on in Scotland to ensure that the partnerships in every area are strong. Everyone is involved: the Employment Service, the enterprise companies, the careers services and the further education sector are all working well together. Centrally, the Employment Service and the Scottish Office are in touch with the partnerships to ensure that everything is going well. It is important that there should be a quality control mechanism for the young people themselves, so there will be a hotline to ensure that any abuses of the new deal can be reported. Another important factor is that in every area we have involved the trade unions in monitoring the programme's quality.