HL Deb 30 November 1960 vol 226 cc1131-94

2.57 p.m.

LORD MCCORQUODALE OF NEWTON rose to call attention to the training of young people in industry and commerce; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to call attention to the training of young people in industry and commerce. I owe your Lordships an apology in this matter. I put down this Motion six or seven months ago and had intended to move it before the Summer Recess, but on further consultation with my friends in this matter, as the number of school-leavers in the autumn of this year, 1960, has been lower than in previous years, and as this Motion is intimately concerned with the problem of the "bulge", which does not start making its appearance until the autumn of 1961, my friends and I thought it would be better to postpone the debate until the "bulge" proper was closely approaching, if I might put it that way. It also fits in very much more advantageously with the publicity campaign which the Industrial Training Council are undertaking to bring home to industry and commerce the problems of the "bulge".

May I remind your Lordships that the increase over the figure for 1958 in the number of young people, boys and girls, who will be leaving school is 140,000 in 1961, some 200,000 in 1962, and 140,000 again in 1963. It is a lesser number in 1964 depending on how many stay at school after they are fifteen, up to sixteen. It is a figure of something like half a million extra young people coming out of school during the three years, 1961 to 1963. It is also interesting to note that the percentage over these last years is higher in Wales than in the South of England; it is less in the North of England and it is considerably lower in Scotland than in the rest of the country. Incidentally, my Lords, with more than 500,000 young people coming out of schools in the next three years—and I only throw out this thought—are we in this country really wise in continuing to allow unlimited immigration from Commonwealth countries during this period? I myself have grave doubts upon the matter.

This Motion concerns young people in industry and commerce, and is a very wide one. I propose to deal only with young people coming into industry at what I might call the shop-floor level—not technologists, and not graduates; I know that other noble Lords will be dealing with these problems—and also with the field of commerce. We have recently spent a considerable amount of time in this House discussing young people and their problems; and surely that is quite right. We have had the most admirable Reports from various sources—Crowther, Albemarle and the like. Here I am asking your Lordships to carry on this story from the school world to that critical time when the vast majority of the school-leavers go out into the world to earn their living in industry and commerce. Are these young men and women getting the right industrial training for the tasks that lie ahead? That is the whole question at issue, and that is what I want to deal with this afternoon for a few moments.

There are two sides to the training of young people coming into industry: there is training on the job, and there is what we might call further education, in technical colleges and the like. I would ask the House to look for a moment at the figures for day release of young people for outside education in the technical colleges and other institutions. In 1939, for boys and girls, there were something like 40,000 in the country who had the advantage of day release; to-day the figure is something near half a million. This is a completely new approach. Before the war, ambitious young people went to evening classes: now it is generally accepted that day release for boys training for jobs of skill, apprentices and the like, is advantageous, not only for the boy but also for the employer.

But, my Lords, this day release, although it has grown to these large proportions, is at the present time almost completely confined to apprentices and others undertaking long-term periods of training for skilled jobs. It would appear that the vast majority of these apprentices do obtain the advantages of day release. But if we look at the other side of the picture, at industries which do not employ skilled labour to anything like so large an extent, we find quite a different story before us. Very few of the boys and girls who are not undertaking long periods of training get any of the advantages of day release. In the distributive trades, for example, the proportion is less than 10 per cent.—among girls it is much less than 10 per cent. We have to face the question today, I think: day release for apprentices, boys and girls, having proved useful, would not day release for those coming into the semi-skilled trades prove useful also? And not only useful to industry, my Lords, but useful, and beneficial, too, to the young people in helping them to grow up into adequate and responsible citizens.

Noble Lords will remember that when we discussed the Crowther Report in this House it was generally accepted that day release would be useful, and the Whole problem facing us was whether it was practicable. The British Employers' Confederation, of which I have the privilege of being, at the moment, President, have issued a report on the Crowther proposals, and there they say that, in the opinion of industry, it is wrong in this matter to differentiate between apprentices and non-apprentices. We recognise that courses for those who are not training to be apprentices should probably be largely non-vocational. Certain firms have already tried out day release for boys who are coming into semi-skilled and other jobs, and I think we can say without hesitation that they have found it worthwhile. This is particularly so Where the courses have been specially prepared for them, encouraging them to take an interest in their jobs. But often these courses have been largely of a general educational nature. Discussions are now going on between industry and the Ministry of Education to see whether young people should be given the right to claim day release from their employers if they so wish. If this were done, of course, the demand would be on a very wide-scale basis, and further demand for non-vocational, educational courses at the technical schools might well produce grave problems for the education authorities. It would be disastrous if, industry having been instructed and having come round to the idea of asking for these courses for all their young people, the courses were then not available. We must be able to meet the demand, and meet it satisfactorily, when it comes. So much, my Lords, for day release, training and educational establishments.

When we turn to practical training in a company on the spot, or on the floor of the shop, here again I believe that we must distinguish between the apprentice, the long-term trainee, and those coming in for shorter periods Ito semi-skilled and unskilled jobs. I would venture to assert that, by and large, our training for skilled jobs is pretty good. There are, of course, ways in which it can be continually improved, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The skilled manpower in this country is second to none in the world, and it would be a rash man, I think, who would wish to sweep away the methods of training which we have found so beneficial, so far as our skilled labour is concerned, and to substitute something new.

We find that in industry about one-third of the boys coming in are required as apprentices, learning skills over this long period. The other two-thirds come into the semi-skilled or what are called the non-skilled jabs. The actual percentage of male labour in industry in skilled jobs is something under a quarter, something under 25 per cent.; so the intake of one-third will just about balance that figure, and will allow something for wastage. The question is: are these percentages likely to continue, or are they likely to be varied in the near future? It is almost impossible to say. I think we can assert confidently that the demands for the higher levels of skills—such as technologists, technicians, graduates and the like—will rise sharply and substantially, but, in terms of total numbers, they will still constitute a relatively small proportion of the total working population. Therefore, on balance, the view in industry is that this figure of about one-third of the young people coming forward undertaking apprentice training is about the right one.

I would remind your Lordships that, with the "bulge" in view, involving an increase of 20 to 25 per cent. in the number of young people who will be seeking jobs over the next three or four years, there should be 20 to 25 per cent. more apprentices taken on, in order to keep the percentage right; and places have got to be found for these. It would not be right to say that we do not need to take advantage of the opportunity which the "bulge" affords. Quite the opposite is the case. The "bulge" will give us an opportunity over the next three years really to meet the immediate serious shortages of skilled labour from which many industries in this country have suffered ever since the war.

Perhaps I might now turn for a few moments to the problem of the other two-thirds of the young men coming into industry, the training of the non-apprentice boys. This is a matter which has recently given us in industry a very great deal of concern. Much attention has been given, as I said, to the training of apprentices, and we have produced a fine body of highly skilled men. But so far, I regret to say, industry has given very little thought to the systematic training of the other boys, the two-thirds who enter industry without apprenticeships. Many of them are quite capable, and many do in later life attain responsible and skilled positions.

The Industrial Training Council, which was set up at the instigation of the Carr Committee Report some two and a half years ago, and which consists of equal numbers of representatives of employers' organisations and the T.U.C., with help from the nationalised industries and the educational world, feels that it is vitally important that all boys entering industry should be given some systematic training which must have two essential interests in it—planned training on the shop floor, and also further education on the lines I have suggested. We have published a little booklet on this matter, called Training Boys in Industry— those who are not apprenticed—and it contains a sentence which I should like to read to your Lordships, because I think it is important. The transition from the academic atmosphere of school to a practical, adult environment can be bewildering. A boy is generally anxious to start work, and a careful introdution to it by his employer can do much to mould the right attitude towards it, to inculcate good habits, and to avoid the possibility of an early feeling of frustration cm that he has no worth as an individual. My Lords, I am sure that is perfectly true, and one of the principal tasks before industry in this field over the next few years is to work out, and to apply, some proper system of training for all coming into industry.

In the case of girls, there are obvious limits to the possibility of providing a long-term training on apprenticeship lines, but many girls are called on to provide fairly skilled, if not very skilled, operations in the factory. In such cases we think that their training should follow as closely as possible that given to the boys. There are, however, many girls who find employment in simple, routine jobs for the short time before they get married and produce a family. The problem of the appropriate training for them is one which we are beginning to study, but about which there is nothing to go on at the present time.

The last point I wish to dwell on, and the most urgent one in this matter, is the problem of the "bulge" over the next three years. This is our short-term, urgent problem. This is our short-term opportunity. Both sides of industry have accepted the responsibility for training young people, and we cannot escape the fact that we have the primary responsibility for dealing with the "bulge"; and it is in industry's own interest to seize this opportunity to the full. The ultimate responsibility, of course, is for individual companies, but, as the Carr Committee pointed out, a strong lead from the centre of industry is needed to get all the individual companies to face up to their responsibilities in this matter. We feel that that can best be achieved only by employers' organisations in each industry working in the closest co-operation with their opposite numbers in the trade union world, because these two bodies are in the most effective position to deal with this matter.

My Lords, I think it is a matter of congratulation to us in industry that, in this matter of developing the training of young people—and it is more important than ever in these days of full employment—the employers' organisations, the representatives of the employers, and the trade unions and their representatives, find themselves, by and large, completely at one in this matter, and have been working together as harmoniously as may be. I think we can assert that nobody should anticipate great difficulty in securing a job of sorts for all the young people who will be available for employment during time of the "bulge". But the immediate problem is that industry should provide sufficient progressive jobs, jobs worth while, jobs leading somewhere, for the boys and girls with higher ability. The measure of success will be, I am quite sure, the numbers of apprenticeships offered over the next three or four years to match the increase in school-leavers.

My Lords, we as employers have thought it our duty to try to take the lead in this matter and we have already taken a number of steps. We have endeavoured to stress to industry, and to individual companies, the fact that industry has been so short of skills in many directions for so long, and that the further expansion of industry which we all wish to see and which is so necessary if we are to maintain and increase our standard of living cannot continue unless we can secure more skilled labour, that this "bulge" presents us with a heaven-sent opportunity if we care to take it. It presents an opportunity which will enable employers to do their job in this matter. But it does, of course, involve a certain amount of reorganisation in the factories and the workshops; and that reorganisation must be faced, and faced now.

Last summer we endeavoured to, ascertain whether industry was facing up to this in response to the pleas and demands we were making. We accordingly asked our employers' organisations, who had large numbers of apprentices in their industry, whether they would find out what was happening. Most of these organisations concerned consulted their members, asking them to compare the numbers of apprentices which they hoped to take in the year 1961 with those they had been taking in the previous three years; and we now have the tentative results of this inquiry. The results are not sufficient to be dogmatic about it in any way, but I would say that I think it gives us some encouragement. Provided that the economy continues to expand at its present general trend, the results give us reason to think that many individual companies are fully alive to the problem and to the opportunity with which they are being presented by this "bulge". We feel that, on the whole, our message his not gone unheeded.

My Lords, I will not say more than that. All I will say is that we simply dare not relax our efforts over the next few months. Indeed, we must reinforce them if we are to get the message through to all industry. I think I might say that three things will be necessary to deal with this matter. First of all, the Government must create conditions in which the economy can continue to expand. If there are fears of a slump, all sorts of desperate steps may be taken by individual employers which may, in fact, be quite unnecessary. Secondly, employers of skilled workers must take on their appropriate share of the additional boys who will be available, some 20 to 25 per cent.; and in this respect we believe that the employers' organisations must give a very strong lead from the centre. Thirdly, to overcome local difficulties in a few areas, notably in Scotland and on the North-East coast, it will be necessary to take special measures, which we have enumerated and published and sent to the Ministry of Labour. One step which I would mention to your Lordships as inevitable is that in certain parts of the country young people, with the support of their parents and the Ministry of Labour, must be prepared to look for good openings outside their own towns. In turn, this will mean that employers must be prepared to consider the recruitment of boys not only in their own local areas. We cannot afford to he parochial in this matter.

The target set for industry is aimed at a minimum of 20 per cent. more apprentices taken in every year of the three or four years of the "bulge". If this is broadly achieved, I think that we shall be able to say that we are keeping up with the percentage of 33⅓ of apprentices which industry requires; and we shall be doing our duty by the boys by making opportunities in apprenticeship for the great bulk of boys who have the ability to take advantage of these opportunities.

I am sorry to be keeping your Lordships so long on this matter but I think that it is one of the greatest importance. Of course, the British Employers' Confederation cover only a proportion of industry. We deal only with the private section of industry, and although we have as members organisations which represent the greater bulk of private industry, there is still that 15 or 20 per cent. who, for some reason or another, will not belong to their local organisation, as they should. We have to get the message over to them. Then there is the public sector—the nationalised industries and Government employment, such as the Post Office, the Royal Dockyards and the Atomic Energy Authority. I should like to ask the Government and the Minister whether we can be sure that these public sectors, which do not come under our umbrella in any way, will also play their part. They cover some 15 per cent. of the working population of boys, and it is vitally important that they, too, should undertake an increase of 20 per cent. as a minimum, so as to maintain the opportunities which the boys deserve.

Yesterday, the Industrial Training Council held a conference which was attended by some 300 to 400 representatives of employers' organisations, trade unions and educational interests. It was a very interesting conference, and I think that the people who were there went away feeling that they had learned more about this subject than they knew before. We are proposing to follow this up by regional conferences throughout the country, and we hope that our efforts will culminate in the great Commonwealth Technical Training Week, which is being held under the inspiration of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and under the aegis of the City and Guilds and other organisations, during the first week in June.

I believe that in this way we shall be able to get every employer, large and small, and every trade union leader and official to know of the opportunity of the "bulge" and to know his responsibility under it. And I believe that, if this is done, industry will respond and the young people will get their opportunity. There are many other shortages of labour in the country besides that on the shop floor. I do not wish to go into this aspect, as I have already kept your Lordships quite long enough, but I would mention, in passing, nursing, the police, education and the Armed Forces. I would ask: Are the authorities in all these sections of the community now preparing to grasp the opportunity that the "bulge" is going to offer when it reaches the age group in which they are interested?

Finally, my Lords, when we are considering the training of our young people, do not let us forget, above all, the demand for trained officers and skilled people that are made by the undeveloped parts of the Commonwealth and by other countries abroad. So many parts of Africa and other parts of the world require opportunities to learn skills in industry, and if we do not supply the teachers and helpers from this country, then they will be supplied by other countries whom we do not wish to see in those areas. So I would say, from all these facets of the problem, that the opportunities of the "bulge" are very great, if only we are prepared to seize them as they come. II hope that this discussion this afternoon will be of some help in encouraging others to seize these opportunities. I beg to move for Papers.

3.27 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships will join with me in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, on introducing this Motion in your Lordships' House and on the clear way in which he has expounded the problem that lies before us, both in the years immediately ahead and in those which lie farther away. The Motion is wide in its compass and, of course, in debates of this kind it is utterly impossible to traverse all the numerous facets of it, which have been fairly adequately dealt with in the Carr Report and in the many other publications that have succeeded it.

The Motion is timely, in the particular sense that yesterday the conference to which the noble Lord has alluded took place to deal with this problem. My only regret is that that important conference, dealing with a subject that really lies at the heart of our industrial efficiency and our competitive power, and consequently of the prosperity of our people, was not more adequately reported in the general Press. I have not had the opportunity of examining many newspapers, but in three of them which I regard as most responsible the reports are very condensed, and in none of them have I seen any allusion to the conference in the leading articles. I hope that the noble Lord and his colleagues on the Training Council will net be discouraged by what appears to be a lack of newspaper interest, because in industry generally there is a very real interest in this problem. The noble Lord has long been associated with this question, not only in his capacity as an employer in the printing industry but also in the outstandingly important position he occupies as President of the British Employers' Confederation, which, as most of your Lordships know, is easily the most representative organisation of employers, certainly in this country and quite probably in the world.

I should like to make my first major point one of tribute to the Carr Committee, and to emphasise, if emphasis is needed, that that Committee was not a Government Committee. The initiative in setting up the Committee was taken by the National Advisory Council to the Minister of Labour, a body which I had some part in setting up in the days that immediately followed the war. Mr. Carr was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. I greatly admire the way in which he and his Committee, composed jointly of trade unionists and employers, applied themselves to the practical aspects of this problem. It would have been comparatively easy to evolve theoretical schemes and to leave the working out of their practical application to employers and trade unionists. But the Carr Committee made a thorough examination of the problem in the comparatively limited time they had to deal with the subject, and expedited their Report so that some two years after they were appointed the Report was submitted to the Committee to which I have referred.

The immediate concern of the Carr Committee was with the "bulge", and the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, has so clearly dealt with that subject that it is unnecessary for me to say more than that everybody must be concerned with that problem. I have no personal fear that the economy of the country will be so ruptured that it cannot provide employment, with a growing economy, for the young people who will be forthcoming; that is a possibility, but I do not regard it as a serious one. But the Carr Committee were also conscious of the long-term problem that is involved in an investigation of these matters, and their recommendations dealt not only with the "bulge" but also with that longer-term, problem. I think it is commendable that within some few months of the publication of that Report, the Industrial Training Council, even wider in purpose than the Apprenticeship Council suggested by the Carr Committee, came into being. It augurs well, I think, for the desire of the employers and the trade union representatives to deal with this matter expeditiously. The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, was the first Chairman of the Council, and, as a matter of fact, he has just relinquished his office. As some indication of the close joint working that is taking place on the Council, the noble Lord will be succeeded by a trade unionist—and, indeed, it was a trade unionist, Mr. Lowthian of the building trades, who presided at yesterday's conference.

Throughout the documentation, from the Carr Report onwards—all the publications, and, indeed, in speeches of those connected with the Industrial Training Council—one point is stressed all the way through; that is, that training in industry and, of course, in commerce, is the responsibility of industry itself. I could not subscribe as fully to that doctrine as just a sentence of that kind indicates, because I have believed for many years that as the problems of industry become more intricate in a competitive world, more and more the Government will have to take some measure of responsibility for what is done in industry. It is a commonplace to say that to-day the Government intervene considerably by legislation and by help and guidance of one kind and another. I believe that that sort of intervention is all to the good and will tend to expand.

With that qualification, it must be accepted that industry will have to bear at least the main responsibility, if not the whole responsibility, for training in industry and commerce. It is a serious responsibility, and if I am any judge (I sat in at that conference yesterday as an observer) I think all present at the conference, and particularly the more senior people, were very conscious of what that responsibility involved. For the trade unions, Sir Thomas Williamson, a man of very constructive mind and breadth of outlook, said this: Industry has claimed that it can do the job. Frankly, industry does not have much more time in which to justify its claim. If freedom from State interference means that the headquarters of many industries take no interest in training, that many firms provide no training and are content to poach skilled labour from firms which are training, it will not be long before the community will declare that industry has had its chance and has fallen down. Not dissimilar sentiments were expressed by the Minister of Labour when he spoke yesterday at the same conference. He said: Let me sum up what I have to say to the Conference in this way. The 'bulge' presents an immense opportunity and challenge. Though there have been some encouraging signs it is by no means clear that this challenge is going to be adequately met. But if industry fails to meet the challenge—if when the 'bulge' comes it is seen that enough young people are not getting the opportunity of skilled training—then, as I said a few weeks ago at Cambridge, I foresee that there will be such a demand for Government action of one sort or another that the basic doctrine that the responsibility for training rests with industry may be subject to pressure that will be very hard to resist. I think we should all try to remember that in this connection, at least—and I hope in many others—when we talk of industry we mean not only employers and not only trade unions but the work-people in industry. However well thought out schemes may be, their application, in broad terminology, ultimately has to be made on the shop floor. It requires not merely some kind of interest on the part of workpeople and the trade unions, but also some realisation that there are facets of this problem which could involve a change of practices, a change of habits and maybe a change of agreements if really adequate means of training are to be provided.

Industry suffers from certain handicaps. The British Employers' Confederation is itself a voluntary body. So far as I know, it has no disciplinary powers over its individual member associations. The position is similar in respect of the Trades Union Congress and its representatives on the Industrial Training Council. It is going to be difficult to try to force the pace, although expedition must be used in dealing with the problem. I utter that only as a note of warning that the people of this country, whether they are employers, trade unionists or whatever they are, cannot be coerced very far, and if coercion is attempted then it may be shown not to achieve its objective.

Yesterday's conference showed an immense goodwill to try to solve this prob- lem. But one thought was passing through my mind during the whole of the time of our meeting: what is the level of representation? So far as the Council representation itself is concerned, it was at a high level, both on the employers' and the trade unions side. But when I looked round the room, and when I listened to the speeches, the thought kept constantly recurring: are these the people who will have to take the decisions which will make this system work? Some of them were education officers and some of them were training officers—indisperisible in the operation of any scheme of this kind. But they are not the people upon whom the responsibility will rest to decide whether action—and decisive and prompt action—will have to be taken. I think we must not lose sight of this. All the way through we want the people who are commonly regarded as the leaders of industry to be immersed in this problem and to realise what personal responsibility they carry. If we can secure that, then we shall have the means of pushing the thing through in the expeditious way in which we all hope it will operate.

I am pleased to think that the central conference which took place yesterday is to be followed by regional conferences, and it may be necesary to go still further down into local conferences. I hope at those levels we shall have adequate and board-room level representatives among those taking part. The Industrial Council started very well. Its personnel is experienced and, as I have already said, it is of high-level quality. Its publications, all of which, so far as I am aware, I have read, are excellent, and the story is well told. But I am quite certain that it will never overcome the problem without an immensely expanded public relations service. At present it is being officered entirely by the secretarial staff, seconded maybe, of the British Employers' Confederation.

Now I hope that nobody in that Confederation or elsewhere will misunderstand me when I say that the outstanding characteristic of that Confederation and its officers—certainly during my day; there has been some slight change—has been a rather singular reticence about their affairs. It may be that that kind of outlook may influence their consideration of the extent to which it is necessary to get what I regard as essential publicity. The director of that body is well known to me. He is a man of progressive outlook, and I hope that his influence and the pressure of the situation will ensure a really adequate publicity service, so that everyone may understand just what is involved.

I hope I shall be excused for speaking frankly, but I think the staff is quite inadequate to handle a problem of this size. The Carr Committee, and the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, this afternoon, emphasised the need for a strong lead from the centre. What do you mean by a "strong lead"? The passing of a strong resolution? The writing of urgent letters to secretaries of associations? Or do you mean something more than that? In another place the Chairman of the Carr Committee—I hope I am not doing an injustice to him—said that he regarded circulars as almost useless in this connection, and he stressed the importance of personal visits. If personal visits are to be made, they should not be made by uninformed people., and they ought not to be dependent or devolving upon people whose jobs are already filled up with some kind of personal relations in their individual undertakings. They should come from headquarters in the first instance and be thoroughly well informed about what the problems are.

The financial resources seem to me to be pitiably small, and again I hope my language is not too strong when I say that the grant of £75,000 over a period of five years which the Government are making conditionally to the Industrial Training Council on a pound for pound basis—let us remember that restriction—seems to me to be too small to handle a problem of this kind. It is a start, and I am glad to welcome it as such. I hope that, like Oliver Twist, the Industrial Training Council will not hesitate to ask for more with, let us hope, a little greater success than Oliver Twist himself had. Naturally, need will have to be prayed. Governments do not spend money or pass it out to nongovernmental bodies without careful scrutiny as Ito what is going to be done with it. I take it for granted that all that sort of thing will be forthcoming.

The Training Advisory Service which has been set up by the Industrial Training Council is an excellent idea. There is a specially formed company for the purpose, composed of directors who are nominated through, and, I believe, from, the Industrial Training Council itself. It seems to me that the service can do excellent work if the member firms and non-member firms are ready to make application. It was stated in the conference yesterday that the number of applications had been comparatively few, and I hope that that sort of thing is not characteristic. It may be a slow start, and it may be that it will gather momentum as time goes on. My point on this organisation is that at the moment it is not adequate, and I believe that something further will have Ito be done and that considerable expansion will have to take place.

The noble Lord, Lord, McCorquodale of Newton, has referred to the problem of the non-federated firms. It is a real problem, and I believe that I have expressed a view in this House that I have expressed elsewhere many times during my life: I cannot understand why intelligent employers, particularly the bigger ones, remain outside their organisation. I think as little of them from that point of view as I think of the non-unionist. The small employer is going to be the problem. The big employers are, on the whole—from my experience of them, at any rate, and I made many visits during my trade union life and in my later days as Chairman of the Central Electricity Authority—training very well indeed.

The assistance of the Government, too, can be very valuable in so far as it is providing training centres. I believe there are some eighteen of them, not new centres, but centres which were a spillover. I think, from the war, which could be used for this purpose. It could provide welcome assistance, for first-year training only, of course, but that is a very valuable and important time in the life of an apprentice or young worker. Again, one is rather staggered that greater use is not being made of this facility. I gather that only one-third of the accommodation is being used at the present time, and that is very regrettable.


My Lords, I wonder whether I might make one comment there. I think one of the reasons why the centres are relatively empty now is that they are in totally wrong places, in places where trade is booming and there are plenty of opportunities. If they would go to the special areas they might get some recruits.


I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. It is quite informative. It at once has raised this query in my mind: before the centres were decided upon, what kind of consultation took place between the Government, the Industrial Training Council and the respective trade associations or organisations? I will leave it there.

I want to say a word or two about the question of young people seeking work outside their own town or area. I regard that as an almost intractable problem. First of all, in respect of adult men our experience in post-war years has been that they are almost completely immobile, even within the same town. Indications in the motor industry show that. Men in a job prefer to wait, although working short time or even unemployed, rather than move to another town where they might find incredible difficulties in getting housing accommodation. Let us remember that. I view with some concern the prospect of a young person or large numbers of young persons leaving their districts and such parental guidance as modern parents are ready to provide, and going somewhere else almost free from that kind of control. I do not say the problem is completely insoluble or anything of that kind, and I hope I am over estimating the difficulties, but I believe none the less it will he extremely difficult.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? Is it not a fact that for generations hundreds of boys have come out of Scotland to work in England? What moral or physical harm has come to them?


I do not know about boys. I know the Scots invasions have been regular and numerous over the years, but I do not know how many young boys have come. There have been boys who have come out of their time, maybe, who have been apprentices and become journeymen and looked elsewhere. That has been very common not only among Scots but also among English and Welsh people. But remember that that is a pre-war feature, when housing accommodation was comparatively easy. The noble Earl shakes his head, but that is at least my opinion; housing accommodation was very much easier than it is to-day.

I think there is great future in the group training schemes that have been proposed. Those are usually bodies of small employers. One body in south-east London, comprising some 5,000 firms or members of it, called the Engineering Industries Association have made a start, and a very creditable start, in this direction. They have employed a firm of industrial consultants at what seems to me to be a quite substantial fee per head of apprentices, and they are getting a move on there, so far as one can gather. It might furnish an example in securing the more thorough training that we expect to get.

The Carr Committee and the Industrial Training Council all recognise that the small employer is a problem of his own. Very often small employers have not the volume or the variety of work properly to train an apprentice. I tried, when I was a district official in the Mersey area, to get employers voluntarily, and the boys, of course, to agree to transfer from one employer to another where the variety of work would have meant that they had wider experience. I am pleased to see that some advance is being made along that line, particularly in the building industry, a very difficult industry to deal with in regard to this problem of apprentices.

Yesterday the Minister of Labour made a reference at the conference to the employers who are not paying anything towards the cost of training, and there must be many—I suppose thousands of them. He repeated a suggestion he had made at Cambridge that there should be some kind of industrial levy. For the life of me, I cannot see how that can be operated. It could be a voluntary levy upon organised employers, and it might be that many employers who are not organised would contribute to it, but that would still increase the injustice between the employer willing to pay and the one who wants the advantages but will not pay. I should have liked personally some development of that idea because one of the things that everybody wants to avoid in this case is compulsion. The trade unions, I think, would react as violently against it as most employers, and in any case I think it would require legislation.

The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, has dealt with day release. Do we forget, I wonder, that that was provided by the Fisher Education Act of 1918, 42 years ago? Now it is becoming a practical problem. Then compulsion was envisaged as a means of achieving it, but, for one reason or another, little was done about it. Some of us know the background to it. The Crowther Committee estimated that some 33 per cent. of the boys were getting day release, and in bulk it is an impressive number, as the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, gave to the conference yesterday. In 1938 some 50.000 were obtaining day release, and the latest figures show ten times that number who are getting day release. It is commendable itself, but still very little. I cannot resist saying that the public industries, according to a schedule in the Crowther Report, are right at the top of the tree of the people who are providing day release. The gas, water and electricity industries taken together provide 82 per cent., and for the electricity industry only it would be much nearer 100 per cent. That day release is not limited merely to people up to the age of eighteen, it is considerably further up to twenty-one. Unfortunately, for girls, as the noble Lord has said, day release is very low for everybody and much lower than is needed to meet the circumstances.

I will conclude by remarking that I do not think anybody is satisfied with what is being done. The Minister of Labour says he is not satisfied; the chairman of the Carr Committee says he is not satisfied; Sir Thomas Williamson said he was not satisfied. I am not sure about the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, but I rather think he is not satisfied either. Yesterday the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, who presided over the afternoon session with that inimitable amiability and wit he possesses, said that complacency was probably the greatest national besetting sin, and we are not doing at all well in this matter. It is clear we must do more and that this must be done by joint efforts. May I say this, which may be unknown to many of your Lordships: for years the trade unions were frustrated by employers not allowing them to touch the question of apprenticeship; they were not allowed to take part in discussions about wages or anything of that kind. Long before I ceased my connection as an official of my own trade union, and in my T.U.C. days, a great advance was made. But only yesterday a trade union official complained bitterly to me about the action of a large federation where his union were denied a say in apprenticeship matters which they considered to be necessary to them. I believe that now that the unions and the employers are pulling together in this sphere, with a strong, stimulus from the centre and with suitable and adequate local organisation, the objective can be achieved both in regard to the "bulge" and the solution of the long-term problem of ensuring that the native skill and intelligence of our young people can be used to the fullest advantage.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, I regret that I have to inflict myself on your Lordships for the second successive day; but my excuse is this—I hope it is a legitimate one—that there is a connection between what we were discussing in your Lordships' House yesterday and what we are discussing here to-day, because yesterday we discussed at some length modern means of educating children in the schools, and this afternoon we are discussing modern means of training young people and educating them further after they have left school

I feel that there will be general agreement with me when I say that there could have been no more appropriate person to open a debate of this kind than my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton. His great interest and great experience in these matters are known to us all, and are very widely known outside. It is a pleasure to me to follow him in the debate which he has initiated because I had the good fortune for some years to be a colleague of his in another place, and we are both associated, though in different ways, with the same town in the County of Lancashire—an association which is reflected in our respective names.

The noble Lord, Lord Citrine, also speaks with great authority on these matters. I noted carefully what he said at the beginning of his speech about the need for publicity to be given to the matters with which your Lordships are concerning yourselves to-day. I would most respectfully agree with that. I also thought it was most gratifying to hear his complimentary references to the work of the Carr Committee to which Her Majesty's Government are so much indebted. As I listened to both noble Lords, I felt that there was so much in their speeches which must command general assent that I need do little more than underline some of the points and offer a few marginal comments upon them. In any case, my noble friend Lord Mills will be replying to the speeches at the end of the debate.

My noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton dwelt at some length on the growth over the last two decades in the number of young people released by their employers for study at technical colleges. This is an educational development of great importance which I think is inseparable from any consideration of training in industry. I feel that the whole House will agree with me that we ought not to expect any boy or girl under eighteen who is employed during the day time to continue his or her further education solely by means of evening study. Many have done so in the past and it reflects great credit on them, but we must realise now that it is asking too much of the ordinary boy or girl.

The increase in day releases since 1939 is indeed most striking; but the present position gives no ground for complacency. The White Paper on Technical Education (Cmd. 9703) assumed that the number of students getting day releases would rise by 40,000 a year. In fact, we have never achieved an increase of more than 30,000, and in the last few years it has been much less. Moreover, over the last five years the number of under-18's getting day release has been virtually static. As the size of the total age group has increased, the proportion receiving day releases has actually fallen from 14…9 per cent. to 12…6 per cent. As the total numbers grow, the proportion will decrease still further unless more boys and girls are released by their employers. As my noble friend rightly said, there are wide variations in the extent of day release between boys and girls and between different industries. While some industries have every reason to be proud of what they have done, there are large sections of industry and commerce where there is a good deal of room for improvement.

The Education Act, 1944, envisaged that attendance at county colleges should eventually become obligatory for all young persons, and the Crowther Report looked forward to the time when it would be possible to put that provision into effect. After careful consideration of all the Crowther recommendations, the Government concluded that it would not be realistic to attempt to make county college attendance compulsory within the next few years and that it would be necessary to rely instead upon the voluntary expansion of part-time day releases. It is against that background that my right honourable friend the Minister of Education has begun exploratory talks with both sides of industry and the local authorities on the possibility of conferring the right to day release on the young employee. The talks are not yet complete and the proposal raises complex issues which require a good deal of further thought; so I hope I may be forgiven if I say no more about it at this stage; but I know that my right honourable friend will be grateful for my noble friend's sympathetic words on the subject.

I turn now to the problems of employment and industrial training with which my noble friend dealt towards the end of his speech. These problems face us in the immediate future. Last year some 570,000 young people came on to the employment market; next year we expect 660,000 and in 1962, 720,000. It would be wrong, would it not, on social grounds if, because of the accident of belonging to a particular age group, these young people were not to enjoy the opportunities of leading a full and satisfactory life?—and that surely includes the opportunity of a job which reflects their talents. But if we are equal to the occasion and succeed, this social duty can help to relieve the present shortage of skilled manpower from which we have continuously suffered since the end of the war.

My noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton underlined the difficulty of assessing industry's future needs for skilled manpower because of changing patterns and changing methods of production; but there can be little doubt about our immediate needs. Although the types of skill and demand are constantly changing, there are no signs of any falling off in the overall requirements for skill. Even if a particular skill should become superfluous, the process is likely to be gradual; and past experience suggests that the skilled worker, by reason of his training and his adaptability, is less likely to be vulnerable than the unskilled worker. If we are to take advantage of the "bulge", which has figured so much in the speeches so far and use the opportunity which the "bulge" offers of stocking up on skill and ensuring the smooth absorption into employment of the increased numbers of young people coming on to the employment market during the next few years, a big increase in the opportunities of learning occupational skills will be needed.

I think we can be fairly confident—and I believe noble Lords who have preceded me will agree—that, given a healthy economy, the additional numbers of our young workers should be absorbed into employment without much difficulty. The noble Lord opposite made the point that although, of course, there are areas, chiefly in Scotland, parts of Wales and Northern England, where there may be difficulties, the experience of absorbing the "little bulge" during the 1958–59 recession was, on the whole, encouraging. Then, even in areas suffering from adult unemployment, school-leavers were absorbed into employment fairly rapidly.

Turning to the expansion of opportunities for learning industrial skills, I would say that some encouragement may be drawn from the progress already made; but even on optimistic assumptions—and neither of the noble Lords before me have made such assumptions—there can be no ground for complacency. During 1959 there was a substantial increase in the number of boys entering apprenticeship to skilled occupations—5,500 more than the 93,200 in 1958. But because of the extra numbers coming on to the employment market the percentage entering skilled occupations dropped a trifle. As I have indicated, however, the number of young people leaving school in 1961 and 1962 is expected to rise sharply, so that if entry into skilled trades is to keep pace with the rising numbers, much higher increases than have so far been achieved in the number of apprenticeships will be needed in the future.

The apprenticeship figures do not, of course, tell the whole story. Increasing numbers of technicians and technologists are required, and with increased opportunities for higher education, particularly on the technical side, more of our young people are starting careers at an older age and a higher entry point. The numbers in the fifteen to eighteen age group entering employment leading to professional qualifications, though small, are increasing steadily. Again, new types of training outside the traditional skilled occupations are being introduced. My noble friend referred to that in speaking about the problem of the non-apprentice. All these trends have to be taken into account in considering the total available opportunities for training and advancement open to young people, but there is no doubt—and I wish to say this again—that over the whole field what is being done falls short of our existing needs.

Underlying all that has been done so far to tackle the employment and training problems of the "bulge" is the doctrine, which the Carr Committee endorsed and which my noble friend has reaffirmed this afternoon, that the responsibility for industrial training and hence for its expansion during the "bulge" lies with industry, the Government's direct rôle being confined to providing the necessary supporting technical education. This division of responsibility springs not from a desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to escape responsibility, but from a conscious judgment that the best prospect of expanding training opportunities during the "bulge" lies in seeking to get the maximum effort from industry under the existing apprentice system, rather than attempting any radical transformation of it.

This arrangement, under which the responsibility is placed mainly upon industry, has many positive advantages. Industry has the greatest range of equipment needed for training over a very wide span of skills. It possesses an unrivalled concentration of skill and experience. Industry is best placed to gauge what skills are required and in what quantities, and through the apprenticeship system training is linked directly with employment. Again, industry can ensure without difficulty that the trainee acquires familiarity with the atmosphere and tempo of the production work on which he is engaged. There has been ready acceptance by leaders on both sides of industry of the major responsibility which the distinction between the role of industry and that of the Government implies for industry.

Through the Industrial Training Council, of whose work we have heard so much this afternoon, a combined effort by the unions and the employers is being made to secure the general recognition and acceptance by individual firms of their duty to do more training. My noble friend referred to the lead which had been given on the question of expansion of training by the British Employers' Confederation and by its member organisations. As he said, the ultimate responsibility is with the individual companies. It is through their decisions alone that the increase in training opportunities can be realised. And so the crux of the whole operation, it seems to Her Majesty's Government, lies in the bridging of the gap between the acceptance nationally of industry's responsibility and, on the other hand, the voluntary action of individual firms through which alone that responsibility can be successfully discharged.

Because of the difficulties under our voluntary arrangements of ensuring that individual firms do more training, the underlying division of responsibility between industry and Government has frequently been questioned; and more direct action by the Government has been suggested. For example, it has been suggested that there should be Government subsidies for firms who do more training, or that the Government themselves ought to undertake the training of substantial numbers of skilled craftsmen. There are many practical difficulties in the way of adopting such suggestions, not the least of which is the risk that any major transfer of responsibility for training to the Government would discourage such additional efforts as industry itself is already making and will, let us hope, make in the future.

My noble friend referred to the importance of the Government's role in another direction, namely, in seeking so to regulate the economy that a climate of steady economic growth would be maintained and industry thus encouraged to take the long view of the benefits of investment in training. I would add that in areas of less buoyant employment Her Majesty's Government are actively seeking, by attracting new industries, to create the conditions in which both employment and training opportunities will be more plentiful than they have been. I would add, too, that, within the limitations of their own rôle which is implicit in this division of responsibility between Government and industry, the Government have shown a willingness to help industry in its task—for example, by making available the grant in aid of £75,000 to the Industrial Training Council for the appointment of training development officers in industry. I recognise that the noble Lord opposite did not consider that that was enough, but he was kind enough to say that if more was wanted it ought to be asked for. Another way in which the Government have shown willingness to help is by starting a limited scheme for first-year apprentices to train in Government training centres, and by the encouragement of first-year apprenticeship classes in technical colleges.

In the last resort, however—and this is the last thing I wish to say to your Lordships—the rÔle of Her Majesty's Government must remain to a large extent a background one. At any rate, that is what the Government believe. We must look to industry to furnish the major effort. There have already been signs that industry is moving in the right direction, and I think my noble friend has encouraged us to expect further improvement. What is now needed, my Lords, is for this improvement to gain added momentum by a wider acceptance by individual firms of the need to train more, and, since time is short, to gain it quickly.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, this is indeed a very timely debate and, as the noble Lord who has just sat down said, it is extremely fitting that it should have been introduced by the first Chairman of the Industrial Training Council. The emphasis which has been laid on this being industry's concern solely makes me a little diffident in rising to speak on this subject from this Bench. But I give myself courage by remembering that this country is not merely a society with industries in it, but is to a very high degree an industrial society; and, of course, the welfare of young people is the concern of us all. Moreover, I doubt whether the end which the Industrial Training Council has set itself will be achieved in time unless it has the support of widespread and intelligent public opinion. I am going to try to be as intelligent as I can for a few minutes on the subject.

The debate is timely, as has been said, because of the impending "bulge". I have in my hand a pamphlet prepared by the education council of my Church, which shows a graph like a Himalayan peak, and one feels that industry will have to marshal some formidable climbers if they are going to get up that peak in time. But, of course, although the "bulge" is the immediate problem, there is here all the time the continuing problem, as has been said, that our country and its industries just cannot afford to allow boys and girls in the number in which they have been leaving school in the past to come out untrained and unskilled into industry and commerce. We have to face the fact that in 1961 and 1962 they will be pouring out in this exceptionally large number. It would he tragic if they became unemployed; almost equally tragic if they drifted into "dead end" occupations. We have to absorb them in some kind of occupation, because youth is always a country's most valuable asset.

There is one point in the Crowther Report to which I would refer. The Report quotes a German industrialist who said: I envy you your bulge. The Report continues: We trust there may he no need to add I am astounded at the way you have wasted the chance to build up your capital of skill. That is indeed the theme of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton. We all know that a good deal of building up is being done, and that more is being planned, but one still feels uneasy about the total amount, uneasy that we may not be doing nearly as much as we ought to be doing to train our youth in skills and for life. I think your Lordships will agree that, from every point of view, it is of capital importance to train boys and girls to be good workmen at all levels, according to their aptitude and therefore to think and plan, not just in terms of absorption but of training, of matching the boy or girl to the right job.

If one were for a few minutes just to try to give one's own answer to the question of what is being clone or ought to be done, I would say a word about schools. I would suggest that this bears on what has been said about the mobility of youth—that in parts of the country where there is already a large amount of juvenile unemployment, as, for example, I believe, in Liverpool, possibly boys and girls might be urged to remain at school till the age of sixteen. This is, of course, largely a policy of absorption, unless the schools are able to provide a really good curriculum, and one related to training in skills for the job. But in certain areas it may be a very desirable thing to do. and possibly might be more successful than trying to persuade them to move to other areas.

As it has not been mentioned, I should like in this connection, because one has seen so much of its work, to pay tribute to the Youth Employment Service in many areas, and also to career masters in some schools for their very considerable success in directing boys and girls to the right sort of jobs and trying to put some sense into sometimes rather foolish parents. Then one is led to notice, as has been commented on in some of the excellent literature put out by the Industrial Training Council, that there is an increasing, a rapidly increasing, cooperation between education; and industry, both at the crucial moment when a boy or girl leaves school and afterwards during further education. However, we shall all agree, I think, that that cooperation is not so widespread or complete as it might be. What matters here is this matching of the boy and girl for the right job; and that requires, among other things, I would suggest, knowledge, of industry by our teachers; knowledge of schools and their curricula among works managers, and, of course, good sense in the home.

Many of us feel special concern over the question of further education. As has been said, we all know that some industries, some industrial firms, have gone in for training in a big way and, incidentally, are making full use of day release, technical colleges, and so on. Some large firms in my part of the world have their own training schemes and establishments. Some, not very many, of the smaller firms are co-operating to achieve the same ends. But—and here is the real problem, of course—there is still far too much disparity. The chief sufferers are the young people themselves and our industrial efficiency. I hope that by various voluntary enterprises with the Government in the background, as has been suggested, we may achieve our results. But I think that at some stage we shall need to have some measure of compulsion in this matter of day release, if only to be fair all round.

My particular concern is the training of the non-apprentice, the subject of an admirable pamphlet issued by the Industrial Training Council. We in this country have reason to be proud of the apprenticeship system and also of the way in which it is being adapted to changing conditions. It has a very prominent place in the iron and steel industry, which is the industry I know best. And, as has also been said, in view of the "bulge", many industrial firms are stepping up the number of their apprentices. But this will have to be done on a much larger scale than seems to be the case at the present time, if we are to make a serious contribution to the numbers involved. Again, in connection with this training of apprentices, I think it is all for the good that many firms should be sending boys, and in some cases girls, to Outward Bound courses and other courses which are not strictly vocational; and they are finding from experience that it is worth while to do so.

But let me revert to the position of the non-apprentice. With the development of machinery and automation, the distinctions between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers are becoming a little unreal. Is not the distinction between skilled and semi-skilled to-day very often rather within trade unionism than in the jobs themselves? If that is the case, does it not mean that, if our economy is to expand as one would like to see it expand, and in a very competitive world, we should not have more restrictions than are absolutely necessary on the reception and the number of skilled workers? It seems to me extremely important that more attention should be given to further education, and to training in skills of boys and girls who are passing out of secondary modern schools into industry and commerce, but not as apprentices. Now that these schools have got into their stride and are beginning to recruit their own teachers, they are becoming happier places at the top end than they were when they started. In consequence, the transition from a secondary modern school into industry for some boys and girls is very harsh, and often disastrous if they are put to quite unskilled and completely dull jobs. These boys and girls who have gone through this experience deteriorate rapidly, which is a loss to the nation, to industry and to themselves. I myself feel that this is probably the point where we have to tackle juvenile delinquency, rather than merely in the clubs or with the birch.

Many of these boys and girls who are passing out of our secondary modern schools may not be "bookish", but they are intelligent—or, at least, could become intelligent, given the right mental climate. One thing I have learned, living and working in industrial areas all my life, is to realise the unique value of a skill, especially a skill of hands, in the development of a human personality. This is often underestimated in academic circles, I think, with the result that, by and large, there is a good deal of undeveloped talent and personality amongst the young people in this country. I hope your Lordships will agree that there is a quality in a good craftsman, even if his craft is a simple one: a certain competence in living, a serenity and a wisdom which goes with making things well, with good execution, and doing it together with others. I sometimes feel that it would be very good for my profession if we went through same drill of that kind in our early stages. Indeed, it is strange that we are not given some such training when one bears in mind that the Master we serve Himself served a long apprenticeship in a carpenter's shop.

Having said that about the educational value of training for skill, I think one must go on to say that, none the less, a vocational training which is exclusively vocational can defeat its own object; and I want to plead, therefore, not only for education in school but for education out of the school. Education during their crucial teen-age years, and just beyond them, should train for life as well as for livelihood. It should aim at making responsible workers and good citizens, as well as good tools for production. Some of the ablest industrialists I know, and the trade unions also, are coming to realise this more and more. I would say, for the consolation of the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, that only last night I was making a progress report about a certain institution to a body of people in Sheffield composed of industrialists as well as trade unionists; and they were entirely sympathetic with this point of view. Indeed, in Sheffield during the last two or three years a number of our leading industrialists, with others, have been getting together to make operational a project which will bring about the integration of vocational training with something larger.

With the help of the Ministry of Education and of some of the National Trusts interested in youth, we are making a youth-training centre in the Peak District. We hope to establish there by next year courses for young people seconded from industry. These courses will be set right within what is being done locally as "training". They will tie into this at both ends. A course will be work, not a holiday: half the time will be spent on outdoor activities and half on debates and talks. We are going to try to get these boys, and some of these girls, to come and ask the right questions about industry, about society, about themselves and about life. We are going to try to do what the Crowther Report asks should be done: to try to give them, not by pushing it down their throats but by helping them to find it themselves, a faith to live by. Young people to-day dislike uplift, and are very suspicious of that type of pious moralising we sometimes find called "character building". They want straight answers to straight questions, and they are entitled to get them.

With these boys in a situation like this for a week we can only open a door or two, or a window or two: we may open wider horizons, and lead to an enrichment of life, but the advantage of doing it locally is that it can be followed up locally back in the works. I believe that here there is a combined operation in which industry, education and the Church, in the broad sense, can join, which may prove a good pattern within the new pattern of training that is being evolved.

I would repeat—it cannot be said too often—that time is short; and it is short partly because, as has been said, the "bulge" is upon us. Therefore, public opinion, Parliament and everybody else who can, must strengthen the influence of the I.T.C. and others within industry, to get people to regard this bulge not as nuisance but as an opportunity and a challenge, each in his place to do his part. The time is short also for another reason. Since the war we have done a terrible lot of talking in this country about youth. I cannot help feeling that possibly a little too much of that talking and activity has been related to leisure rather than to work. Yet, after courting and mating, work is the most serious element in the life of a young person. If some of our young people to-day are suffering from a mental vacuum, which leads to misuse of leisure and wrong-doing, I think we have to spare no effort to develop their latent skills and abilities as workers. Industry has the opportunity to try to make their work and their life in the factory draw out and absorb all that is in them, and so make their work interesting and lively and prevent that mental vacuum which always leads to trouble in life.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my own humble, but very sincere, thanks to my noble friend, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, for having introduced this debate. At the same time, may I express to him in particular, and also to your Lordships in general, my great regret that I cannot stay to the end of this debate, as in view of another commitment I have to leave to catch a particular train. So I hope I shall be absolved from any apparent discourtesy.

I should like to say a few words about one particular aspect of this big problem. Your Lordships can train a boy for a job, but he will do it much better if he is interested in it. And he cannot be entirely interested in it unless he understands what is going on outside his particular job. He hears a lot of things which he has not heard before; he sees a lot of things which he has not seen before; and he comes across a lot of people whom he has not seen before—on the one hand, for example, the lady with the broom and the bucket; on the other hand, the gentleman with the bowler hat and the brief case. He probably soon finds out what the lady with the bucket and the broom is for. but he possibly remains for a long time in ignorance, if not in suspicion, of the man with the bowler hat and the brief case.

For some years now the National Association of Boys Clubs and its constituent organisations have been running courses which are known as "Adjustment to Industry Courses". The National Association runs courses at its residential centre at Nash Court, in Shropshire, and no fewer than eight counties regularly run courses themselves. There are other places at which courses take place, but these eight counties have them regularly year by year, and they are Bedfordshire; Derbyshire; Gloucestershire; Hampshire; Hertfordshire; Lancashire; Northamptonshire; and Staffordshire. And I must not forget Scotland, because the Scottish Association also runs courses. Each course is for one week. Over 10,000 boys have now attended a weekly course, and these boys come from over 400 firms. We have had a large number, I am delighted to say, of quite unsolicited testimonials from these firms, and the mere fact that they are perfectly prepared to pay the charge for the course their boys attend is, I think, testimony to the value which they place in these courses. We could accommodate many more if only we had the organisation to cope with them, and I hope in time we may be able to do so.

I have here two programmes of these courses, and I should like to give your Lordships some idea of the subjects which are discussed in them. First we have talks on the industrial background. In one of the programmes I have the two industries concerned were farming and engineering. Then conies personal relations, and the personnel discussed were the managing director, the personnel manager and the foreman. There is a talk on National Insurance, on further education, on P.A.Y.E. and trade unions—concerning both the history of trade unions and their organisation—and, last but not least, Christianity and industry. Apart from the talks on these various subjects there are discussions among the boys themselves following the talks, and these are carried out in small groups of about six boys with a tutor, so that each boy has a chance of saying something. There are other activities during the course, perhaps the most important of which is an expedition, run on a much smaller scale but similar to the lines of that sponsored by the Duke of Edinburgh. All these talks are given by people who are definitely concerned with the job in question: for instance, the talk on the managing director is given by a managing director, and the talk on trade unions is given by a trade unionist.

I should like to give your Lordships one small experience of my own when I was appealing, as I was for some years, for county associations of boys clubs. I received a very generous donation of £10 from a prominent industrialist. Shortly afterwards he saw a programme of one of our "adjustment to industry" courses, and he wrote to me and said that he was slightly alarmed about one subject, as he wondered whether it was being put across to the boys in the right way. I therefore wrote to him and sent him the syllabus of the talk, and he replied saying that this was entirely satisfactory, but again it was a question of who was going to put it across. I then gave him the name of the man who was going to give this talk, and he replied that, once again, it was entirely satisfactory; and in view of the trouble he had caused he sent me another "tenner", God bless him! With that I want to say to your Lordships to-day that I think this is useful work, that it is work well worth supporting, and I thought your Lordships might be interested to hear about it.

4.49 p.m.


My Lords, I have been very pleased to-day to hear the speeches made, particularly by Lord MeCorquodale of Newton, and, not least, by my noble friend Lord Citrine. As your Lordships know, on several occasions I have raised in this House the question of the International Labour Organisation, and I have put my name down on the Paper again. I watch the access of these new nations into an active international sphere, and I ask myself whether we are aware of the ultimate place of these nations once they get going against our own. I have kept contact with industrial developments throughout the world by reading the reports of the International Labour Organisation which tell of the growth of these nations. Our eyes are on the Congo and on the other new nations, particularly the coloured nations, which are beginning to come into the sphere of world industry. But in his charge to the International Labour Conference, the Secretary-General of the I.L.O. pointed out that there has been an accession of something like one-third to the number of industrial nations of the world, before adding to that number the new African nations. I have been watching this development with deep concern and have tried to reckon up the consequences of these great changes that are coming across the world.

As your Lordships know, I live in the mining world, and I am astonished to rind that in the providing of industrial education the mining industry is far ahead of the average industry to-day. I am not surprised that the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, was rather cautious about giving us figures about the element that is neutral to industrial education in the conference in which he and my noble friend Lord Citrine took part. In the mining industry we are not only educating the miners in their own skills, but also running classes for engineers and electricians in the industry. This is a long way from the optimism of my late friend Mr. Ernest Bevin. He was asked to deal with the problem of training miners at the outbreak of the war, and before he was aware of it he was saddled with the fame of the "Bevin boys".

There was a story that went the rounds in my community about one "Bevin boy" who came from the South. One of the older men had been brought to the surface to begin his training. After he had been there a week this man said to the boy, "Get your pit ponies, put them into the shafts and take them across the pit yard and bring them back." The boy looked at him and said, "What do you think I am?" "I thought you Were a 'Bevin boy'", was the reply. "You seem to think I am a cowboy", said the young man. But we have had many good miners from the South. One of them, whom I have come to know intimately, has made a very able colliery manager.

The mining industry has about 50 centres of education, and everyone knows that they are doing a splendid job. Conditions for the young miner have improved in every way. I went down the mine when I was twelve. At the end of the week I got a pony. I was just told to "get such-and-such a pony and clear out of this." One of the first things I had to do was to pick up the remains of a boy who had been in the same class as myself. To-day, nobody can go down the mine until he is sixteen years old, and he must he in the care of a man who is responsible for him. It has taken a couple of centuries to get that. It strikes me that it will take twice two centuries to get some people in industry to understand what the noble Lord who introduced this debate and my noble friend Lord Citrine are asking for.

The mining industry is doing a splendid job in education, and I wonder whether the same thing is going to happen in industry generally, and especially whether the advances that we have made in protecting young people in industry will be followed by the new nations that are coming into view. The Secretary-General of the I.L.O. has told us that in some of these countries boys and girls of six to eight years of age are working endless hours in mines and factories. I bring this question forward because what the noble Lord. Lord McCorquodale of Newton, said this afternoon has underlined the disquiet I feel. If there: is going to be international conflict industrially, I think it follows, almost inevitably, that the same conflict will come to us, who have certainly won in our time the right to a quiet life. I hope that the Minister who has spoken this afternoon is going to impress upon the Government, and, in so far as he can, upon those in high places, the need for adequate training and opportunities for youth in industry. The noble Lord who is going to follow me has filled one of the highest places in the Government, and perhaps because of the respect in which he is held, he will have more influence than others who are in the Government. I ask both the Minister and those outside to take note of the international facts of these great queues of workmen, and indeed of boys and girls, repeating the old story that is the history of our land, in order that, if possible, we may bring such influence to bear upon them as to make an end to the ignorance—professional, industrial and moral—that exists on these matters.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, I feel a great diffidence in following the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, who in the course of his wonderful and distinguished career has had a first-hand experience of this matter that I cannot hope to claim. I agree with noble Lords who have spoken that my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton has done well to call our attention to this matter, because it is, I believe, one of major importance to the future performance of British industry. As one who has recently (if I may put it this way) returned to the labour market after, as I explained to the conference yesterday, a period of two and a half years in rather a "dead-end" job, I was naturally interested in any schemes which enabled one belatedly to acquire skill and improve one's future prospects. I was glad, therefore, to observe in the excellent Carr Report the recommendation that consideration should be given to greater flexibility in the maximum age of entering into apprenticeship schemes. It has been well said, I think, that the quality of our manpower is one of our greatest national assets. I believe that to be true. Equally, I believe that there is a great deal of evidence that we are not yet making the fullest use of our valuable human resources.

I propose only to make a few observations on two or three points to-day. The first is this. It seems to me that this is a problem of quantity and quality. I say quantity because, first, I do not think any of us can feel that the proportion of entrants to industry who are receiving either apprenticeship training or some other kind of training is high enough; and secondly, because the problem has been made much more urgent by the greatly increased numbers resulting from the "bulge".

Then as to quality, here I think there is much evidence that the changing techniques and growing mechanisation of processes in industry mean that the nature of the skills needed must be subject to continual adaptation. That means, I think, that flexibility must be the keynote of our future plans. Apart from the traditional skills which lend themselves to the normal apprenticeship schemes, for which there is growing demand, there are also increasing demands, as has already been said, for training for those on the shop floor whose duty it is to operate, or to have charge of. immensely complex and expensive machines.

In that sort of task, I think the qualities one wants are particularly alertness and adaptability and a certain kind of very reliable intelligence which will enable the operative quickly to spot any departure from the productive rhythm and take immediate action. I remember once taking a visitor round a new and rather mechanised shop in a factory in which I was at that time working. The visitor said to me: "I thought you said that you employed 1,500 people? I cannot see many of them around, and those I do see seem to be standing with their arms folded not doing very much". I had the production director with me, and he said: "That's just how I like to see them. Those skilled chaps have their machines running correctly. Bless them!" The point is that one must not expect these kinds of operatives always to be bustling about doing things when they have responsibilities for that kind of machine.

But I think that type of work is important for another reason. It is from these young chaps that management—look, or should look, for recruits to the junior ranks of management charge hands, supervisors and perhaps works study operatives—and then, in due course, for promotion to higher posts of responsibility. So I think it is vitally important that these young men and women should be provided with the opportunities for fitting themselves for promotion and the wider responsibilities that may well lie ahead. I believe that in that aspect of the matter practice in the United States may well be ahead of practice here.

The first point, therefore, is that, invaluable though the traditional forms of apprenticeship are—and we want more of them—the need for courses of training for other kinds of operatives is also most important. And I was glad to hear my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton mention that point. Thanks to the kindness of my noble friend, himself a distinguished past Chairman of the Industrial Training Council, I was given the opportunity of attending yesterday the conference which I found most interesting; and for part of the time I had the pleasure of sitting next to the noble Lord Lord Citrine. I agree with him that the Council at present are fortunate in having as their Chairman an able trade union leader, Mr. G H. Lowthian. I felt that the Industrial Training Council were very much to be congratulated on holding that conference. So far as I could see, there was a general recognition there that we are not advancing fast enough in this field. There was a wide feeling—not completely unanimous agreement—that the main responsibility for training young people can best lie squarely on industry itself; and by "industry" there I mean, naturally, the employers' organisations and the trade unions (it seems to me unthinkable that the trade unions should not participate in this vitally important matter, and, indeed, they seemed to me enthusiastic to do so), with both of those working in close cooperation with the educational authorities.

One fact seemed to me to stand out and it is one that we shall agree not infrequently does stand out in matters of this kind—namely, that while some firms and some sections of industries are doing very well, other are doing, to all intents and purposes, nil. Therefore, it is the familiar problem of trying to get an average which is not good enough up a little nearer to the performance of the best: and, if I may put it in this way, a quickening of the conscience of everybody concerned in industry as to the importance of this problem.

There was an interesting discussion (I wish that we had had longer for it) as to how this difficulty could be tackled, and how the burden of training could be more fairly shared. The Minister of Labour, as the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, has said, reminded us that at present it is accepted that the responsibility lies squarely on industry. But he warned us that if industry proved unequal to the task, then the pressure would become very great for more direct Government intervention. I agree with the Minister about that: I am sure that pressure will become greater unless the average performance is rather more effective than it is at present. But I also agree with him that it would be unfortunate if the Government have to carry out much of this work directly.

There are two reasons why I say that. The first is that I think the more responsibilities industry (and here again I am speaking of both partners in industry) carry for themselves in these matters, the healthier it is. Secondly, in a matter that so directly concerns the individual, and where keenness and enthusiasm mean so much, I think voluntary action is generally far to be preferred to compulsion.

There was a discussion of the possibility of covering the difficult cases where firms either cannot, because of their circumstances, or will not, make a contribution to training, by some method of pooled training involving a levy, as the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, said. That is obviously replete with difficulties. It would involve a measure of compulsion. But, like any other course, I think it is worth study, if we have to acknowledge that the present performance is not good enough. What I think is essential is that everyone should regard this as a matter where the long view and the broad view is in the interests of all concerned in industry.

There is only one other point I should like to mention. We have been speaking mainly in this debate, and rightly so, about the importance of this problem from the point of view of the national advantage. But there is another aspect, and that is the welfare of the individual himself or herself. There are certain trends in modern productive techniques which are in themselves soul destroying. I remember once being taken round a factory by somebody, and being shown some amazing new automatic machines linked up one with another. Finally, I. spotted two men, and as the employer had told me that all these machines were electronically controlled I said to him, "I'm glad to see you have at any rate two men here." He said, "Yes; but I have an electronic machine watching both of them."

From all my experience, I think it is not a fact that people are concerned only with their pay packets. That is just not borne out in life. As far as it might be true, it is a condemnation of all of us responsible in not providing better opportunities for satisfaction and a sense of responsibility. At heart, people are much more interested in their work than it is the fashion at present to claim. That applies, I am sure, to the young, too. Of course, skill should be rewarded. If your Lordships will excuse me for one minute with one more reminiscence, I remember a farmer who complained when he was sent a bill for £5 for the repair of one of his machines. He wrote back in indignation to the local man who had set himself up as a skilled repairer, and said, "How dare you send me a bill for £5 when you only tapped the machine and it worked again? Will you send me an analysis showing how your bill is made up?". The bill came back: "To tapping the machine 4s. 6d.; to knowing where to tap £4 15s. 6d."

Apart from the need of proper reward, skill is a source of great satisfaction in itself. So, leaving aside the national advantage, it is clearly urgent, from the point of view of the welfare and happiness of the individual, for faster progress to be made in this field of training for industrial skills. We must never forget that, however mechanised industry becomes, it is still really a conglomeration of human beings, and very human beings at that. Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay. I believe the human raw material in the young people growing up to-day is, on the whole, first-rate material. I know that each generation thinks its own generation was exceptional. The only difference in the case of my generation is that we know we were exceptional. It is fashionable at the present time to indulge in denunciation of the young. As some great educationalist said: Denunciation of the young is a necessary element in the hygiene of older people and greatly assists the circulation of the blood. I am sure that the young people growing up to-day are fully capable of responding with enthusiasm to the challenges of their work. The task of all of us in positions of responsibility is not to remove all difficulties from their path but to provide them with just those challenging opportunities.

I liked very much, if I may respectfully say so, the sound of the schemes about which the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Sheffield, and my noble friend Lord Monck told us. It is true, I think, that we are apt to talk about youth almost exclusively in terms of leisure. Though I do not feel competent to comment upon what the right reverend Prelate said about courting, and still less about mating, I agree with what he said otherwise. I believe, with the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, that one of the keys to future success—and I would go so far as to say perhaps the greatest and most important single key—is that those at the top, whether employers or those at the top of the unions concerned, should show personally that they are interested in getting results, and that they are resolved that results shall be got. If that is their personal attitude, that will permeate down through their organisations, and I believe the results will come. I congratulate my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton in drawing our attention and that of the Government to this, as I think, fundamentally important problem.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I feel some diffidence in speaking, partly in following such a refreshing speech which we have had from the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, and partly because I cannot speak out of first-hand knowledge of industry. It is one thing to visit industries, and it is quite another matter to work in them. But I hope your Lordships will sympathise with and recognise the concern which those on this Bench feel for this subject, and, therefore, how greatly we welcome the introduction of this debate by the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton.

I had intended to say something about introduction to industry, and to make some reference to the adjustment of industry courses, but as these have already been so clearly and admirably explained by the noble Viscount, Lord Monck, I will say no more than what an admirable job I believe these courses are doing, and how necessary they are. There are three aspects of the problem upon which I should like briefly to touch. The first is how to make sure that those young people who are capable of learning a trade, or for whom skilled work is available, are apprenticed, either as craft, technical, student or graduate apprentices. That is clearly a matter of co-ordination and information.

The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, referred to the fact that 65 per cent. of boys who enter industry at the age of fifteen or sixteen never have the status or encouragement that apprenticeship brings. Nor, for the most part, do those same boys attend night school, day release or part-day release, or, in fact, have any further education after the age of fifteen or sixteen. That is the more serious since within this 65 per cent. there are a fair proportion of more able boys who have the capacity for skilled work but for whom apprenticeship training is not available, and for which, presumably, in many cases, there is no need. One wonders. quite apart from the special areas to which the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Sheffield, referred, how far some of the more able are lured away from school too soon by the very natural reason of wanting to get to work and the equally natural inducement of high wages. That is clearly a matter which cannot be dealt with by any form of pressure other than that of personal advice.


My Lords, I wonder if I may just say a word on this point, because I think it is very important. There is a great risk, especially in these less prosperous areas, that the mothers and fathers of boys who wish to see their boys take advantage of an opportunity will feel they dare not leave them at school another year for feat they may miss it. Some unions and employers' organisations have agreed together that if boys will stay at school for another year they shall have a year less apprenticeship, and therefore it would be to the advantage of the employer to take the boy at sixteen rather than fifteen. If we could get the idea spread further I believe that it would help. It is a key point.


I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. The second point I want to make is how to make apprenticeship more than a narrow training of their technical skills, how to help young people, when once they have started in their job in industry, not only to increase their capacity for doing their job well but their general development and place in society. Industry itself, management and trade unions, is clearly becoming more and more alive to the importance of this, and more and more interested and concerned about it. There has been, and especially for young apprentices, an increasing value placed upon a rather broader syllabus in the curriculum of the various types of apprentice training, and a greater participation in the informal types of training afforded by such schemes as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which I believe is of great potential value; by the Outward Bound courses, and also, especially in the last year or two, by projects through which young people may be relased for shorter or longer periods to give actual service to the community in some form or another, by applying their technical skills to particular needs of society both at home and overseas.

Any training which is designed to harness the abilities of a young person, to prove his capacities and power and achievement, and to make that young person realise he can be of use, is clearly of very considerable value. It is a good thing, too, that some young people from industry in Britain should experience at first hand conditions of life in territories in which their companies are operating. And it can be of great value, politically, psychologically and internationally, that young workers in industry should feel that they have it in their power to make a personal contribution towards the less industrially developed parts of the world as well as towards meeting the more pressing social needs at home. Both these can he carried out without making the young person feel that he is being patronising. In this connection the activities of international voluntary service, of voluntary service overseas, and also, I think, even the shorter-term activities of work camps, are most valuable. It is rather notable, too, that between the years 1953 and 1958 the number of young people involved in those has increased ten times, from just over 30,000 in 1953 to over 300,000 in 1958. Some young people from industry are now being released for participation in this work. I believe that this can be of very considerable value to the general education of young people in industry.

The last point I should like to make—the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, and other speakers have stressed it—concerns the very large proportion of young people who enter industry who will never be apprentices, either because they lack the potential technical ability or because there are not enough jobs demanding that kind of skill. It is always dangerous to make generalisations, but too often one finds in individual cases that when a young person has started off in industry he finds the prospect quite extraordinarily bleak. Most people, since the Industrial Revolution and before, have been involved in unskilled work, and it is surely a tragedy if, in days when education is much more generally available and developed to a higher pitch, when the drudgery of unskilled manual work is removed by modern methods, there is in its place another kind of drudgery which does not even use the physical powers of the people doing the work.

The dangers are, presumably (though I do not speak from knowledge) at their greatest in short-term or casual employment. You cannot have a true respect, self-respect—or at least it is more difficult—if your work is of a kind and character in which it is wellnigh impossible to take a reasonable pride. And this appears to be all the more difficult, partly for the reason that the kind of practical solutions which one might suggest almost always seem in the short term to be uneconomic. Surely that is one of the factors which make this problem so difficult. But I suppose that ultimately it is a matter of personal care and understanding within the industry for the young people entering it.

I listened with great attention in this respect to what the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, said. Whatever possibilities there may be of helping the unskilled to have a fuller life, either in the form and in the variety of the way in which their work is planned or in the opportunities open to them of an educational or recreational kind, these should assuredly be taken. It is, I suppose, in some respects rather simpler for quite small firms employing just one or two entry of young people in the course of a year, because then it can be imaginatively and personally carried out. It is also surely in some sense easier for bigger firms—and this is shown to be so by the actual evidence, in so far as they have great facilities open to them.

If young people at the beginning of their working life spend most of their time doing work which does not utilise some measure of skill and cannot lead to some satisfaction and achievement, one is bound to have produced in a very large proportion of persons a way of life which will inevitably be frustrating; and that surely is the very danger to which we are addressing ourselves. I cannot help wondering whether, behind the short-term economic grounds for trade union reluctance to accept increased automation, there may not be an underlying feeling that the process is likely to leave still less room for skill and craftsmanship and pride in work. Obviously these issues touch the question of what purpose and needs industry is, in fact, intended to fulfil.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to apologise to the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government, and also to my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton, if I am unable to stay until the end of the debate. Unfortunately, I have to catch a plane to Paris. I have bean excused so far from attending a meeting of the Western European Union, thanks to the kindness of my noble friend Lady Horsbrugh, but I have to go this evening. May I join with other noble Lords in thanking my noble friend for bringing this Motion before your Lordships' House? It is one of vital importance, and I know what a tremendously deep interest he has taken in it. I, too, have a feeling of admiration for what has been achieved already by the Industrial Training Council of Which, until recently, he was Chairman.

My excuse for speaking to your Lordships is that in his Motion he calls attention to the training of young people in industry and commerce; and so far, other than just the name "commerce", nobody has mentioned commercial training. The position of this country, however, as a trading nation, demands not only that our industries should be equipped with trained workers but also that we should compete successfully in the marketing of our goods overseas, and this demands better training in commercial matters. I happened yesterday to find a letter in the Daily Mail from a Norwegian correspondent which read: What is wrong with the British exporters? Their goods are as good as those made elsewhere, if not better. Where you go wrong to-day is your inferior salesmanship. He goes on to say: Here, in Norway, the British are most popular and firms would willingly buy British, but your salesmen are not pushing enough; they do not get the necessary support from their firms. You do not advertise enough, and your advertisements are inferior. I believe that commercial education must not lag behind technical education: the two must proceed together. It is impossible not to be struck by the difference, to our disadvantage, between our commercial training systems and those that exist in other countries. In Germany, for example, except for those continuing in full-time education, further education is compulsory for all young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. They are all granted one day a week release, and they attend either commercial vocational schools or trade schools for the length of their apprenticeship, which is usually two and a half to three years. In this country we have already heard how the system of day release has become much more popular in industry, and, indeed, the same applies to other forms of training, such as sandwich courses. But our commercial training system is still haphazard and disordered.

My noble friend Lord Newton spoke about evening classes. He spoke warmly of those who had achieved success through the medium of evening classes; but he went on to say that he did not think we should expect people to do that in our modern society. I thoroughly agree with him; but certainly in the commercial field it is still very much the case that people are left to train themselves in evening classes. I think, therefore, that it was a wise decision by the Minister of Education in 1957—may I say that it is the sort of wise decision that we should have expected, because the Minister of Education in 1957 was my noble friend the Leader of the House—to ask the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce to give special consideration to commercial education.

That Council appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. J. G. McMeeking which reported in 1959. Their report reviewed the whole field of commercial training and made some most useful recommendations. I do not propose to weary your Lordships with all of them, but I would mention just two. With your Lordships' permission, may I quote, first of all, this recommendation: Apprenticeship schemes based upon a combination of systematic practical training and commercial education should be developed on a much wider scale. There should he a great expansion of day release for commercial study and the advantages of block release should be explored. Sandwich courses combining an advanced commercial education with systematic training should be developed on the lines of those already established in the field of technology. Then secondly: Sustained action should be taken to overhaul and reinvigorate the existing system of commercial education and to impress the importance of commercial education on all concerned. I should like to speak briefly on just two recommendations—first, on apprenticeship schemes. In this field, the Association of British Chambers of Commerce has already taken the lead. It has sponsored a commercial apprenticeship scheme which provides for a combined comprehensive academic and practical training scheme for two to four years, depending on age and qualifications at the time the apprentice enters the scheme under a deed of apprenticeship. The educational part of the course is taken through study at a training college or a college of commerce, and practical training is given by the individual firm in various commercial skills on the same lines as is done with industrial apprenticeships.

During the period of apprenticeship the firm undertake to release their employee for at least one working day each week to attend his course at the technical college or college of commerce. For the first two years the apprentice studies for the Ordinary National Certificate in Commerce (now renamed "Business Studies") and for the next two years he continues studying for the Higher National Certificate in Business Studies or for the approved examination of a national body. At least eight professional institutions have already accepted these certificates as part of their own examinations. The Association of British Chambers of Commerce itself awards a diploma on successful completion of the practical training provided the apprentice obtains the Higher National Certificate, and it awards a certificate where the practical training is completed but only an Ordinary National Certificate obtained. At the present moment some 300 apprentices have taken part in this scheme which is only some three years old.

A great deal has been done privately, I believe, outside this scheme by other firms who have "pinched" the idea and have put it into operation themselves. This is a small and perhaps promising start, but it needs a good deal of further development if it is to be successful. My impression, from talking to people in industry and commerce, is that it is of little use urging on them that they have a national duty to train more apprentices. What we need is a convincing case to show them that it is in their own very direct interests in the immediate future to have more people fully trained in commercial methods in order that they may compete more successfully with what is being done in other countries.

This leads to my second point in regard to the McMeeking Report: the need for sustained action to overhaul and invigorate the existing system of commercial education and to impress the importance of commercial education upon all concerned. Here I wonder whether there should not be set up some form of Commercial Training Council parallel with the Industrial Training Council. I am not sufficiently expert to know, as my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton would know, whether the Industrial Training Council could take such a Commercial Training Council under its wing, or whether that would be an acceptable solution. If not, I think that a Commercial Training Council is required, first of all to convince industry and commerce of the need for more commercial training, and in the second place to see that proper facilities exist in technical colleges and colleges of commerce to give that type of training. I hope That my noble friend the Minister will be able to give us some assurance from Her Majesty's Government that they are interested in the future of commercial training, and perhaps that they will be accepting part, or possibly the whole, of the recommendations in the McMeeking Report.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, this, I think, has been a debate of such exceptional distinction and knowledge that there remains little for me to say, although I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Mills, with his great experience, will be able to give us some encouraging information about the present situation and about the action the Government may take if the situation is not quite as encouraging as some of us would like it to be. Admirable though I thought the speech of the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, was, and admirable as his personal contribution has been, I am sure he would be the first to admit that we still have got nowhere near solving the problem that the Carr Committee reckoned had to be solved.

It is apparent from the statements of the Government—and I am encouraged by the forthright statements that have been made, and particularly made at yesterday's conference at which I appear to have been one of the few of your Lordships who was not present—that the Government are biding their time, waiting for industry to show whether it is capable of facing this challenge. I should like to make a few remarks about some of the gaps that have still to be tackled. Like the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, I do not propose to go into the question of scientists and technologists. We have had a number of opportunities to discuss them, and although that aspect of the training of youth in industry is of pre-eminent importance I believe we are right to confine ourselves to the level we have taken to-day.

In the first instance, I should like to speak about that more amorphous field where apprenticeships and formal learnerships do not exist. This is one where we still need a good deal more information. The fact that there are not apprenticeships and learnerships does not mean, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, would agree, that there is not a great deal of training going on; but unfortunately we do not know how much. Nor do we know how far the problem that does exist in the apprenticeship field is reflected again in the non-apprenticeship field. The question with which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has been dealing—that of commercial education—is a serious one. I would criticise the position rather as he did in regard to two aspects: first, the absence of enough use of, and enough consciousness of the need for, such training and its provision; and, secondly, that the type of training that many people want simply is not available.

It is a complaint that we have had from some of the trainees in my own firm, to quote a case. Those who have been wanting to develop more on the general office and accountancy side have not been able to get what they want. They can learn shorthand-typing and a number of other things, but the National Commercial Apprenticeship Scheme, I am afraid, so far has made hardly a dent in this particular problem. This is something which somebody, I am not quite sure who, has to do something about. I do not know whether it comes within the noble Lord's own field. He can sit back comfortably, feeling that he is doing his job, and that industry, and I have no doubt chambers of commerce, are trying to do theirs. Bur this is a matter on which Her Majesty's Government must take some action on the lines of the McMeeking Report, to see whether we cannot get something more going in this field.

The noble Lord referred again to the distributive trades and the fact that, as I believe he said, only about 10 per cent. were having day release. Here, again, the position is as patchy as it is in the whole of industry. I apologise again for referring to my own experience, but many large firms fully provide these facilities, and we, and I am sure many others, allow anybody who wants day release to have it. The only compulsion is compulsion on the managers to agree to it. This is the situation which should exist. Probably about 35 to 40 per cent. of youngsters, boys and girls, are taking advantage of it; but there is reason to believe that only about 8 per cent. of firms in the retail trade, for example, are granting day release. This is simply not good enough. We begin to see looming ahead the possibility of some form of Government compulsion.

My noble friend Lord Citrine, in his notable speech, took the view that this is something that industry ought to try to solve for itself, but it has to solve it very quickly, because the "bulge" is on us now, and, as the Government have made clear, it is not only the interests of the employers or the independence of trade unions which is at stake but the future of these young people and the maximum benefit to the community. So I hope that on this matter the Government will continue to talk in very strong terms and that their words will get stronger as time passes unless some real action is forthcoming.

There are other aspects where I believe the Government can help a little more. First, they can put a little drive and encouragement behind the work of the youth employment officers. There have been suggestions, and I think valid ones, that the whole status of this very important and encouraging development needs to be improved. I am not saying it is not doing well but merely that we can continue to do better; and the status, position and possibly even the pay and prospects of these people have to be improved. There is a recognition, and a need for recognition, by the whole community of the importance not only of people like youth employment officers but those who are engaged in training education officers.

This question of status for these new specialists of various kinds, whether personnel officers, safety officers or training and vocational officers, is something which needs to be kept in mind, because in the development of industry and of management, as it gets more and more skilled, we do depend upon these specialists. They will tend always to take second place to the operational types like the direct executive and the production manager, and therefore anything that can be done to recognise the tremendous importance of their work should be done. If there is one thing which, from my own experience, I should like to see increased at this moment (and I have said this before in business) and one thing which I think would pay firms better than anything else, it is an immediate increase in vocational training. Even at present I would put that before the improvement of certain other personnel services. This, again, is something where strong support from the Government to youth employment officers would, I believe, give general encouragement.

I should like to refer briefly to the question of apprenticeships and the extent to which it is going to be possible to extend those into other fields of industry. There have been attempts to introduce apprenticeships of a kind which exist on the Continent in sections of industry, such as the distributive trades, where they do not exist here to-day. I feel that we ought to be very careful about doing this; it is something about which we need to think.

An apprenticeship may not be the best answer in some of these cases where there is an obvious craft element—a technical element, as with hairdressers, for example. Obviously it is very suitable that hairdressers should train by way of apprenticeship, but there are others for whom this method will not be so suitable. But there is no reason why these young people should not go ahead and take advantage, as so many of them do, of the facilities that are available, leading up to the achievement of a qualification such as some kind of national certificate set by the City and Guilds. And I think we all ought to acknowledge again the extraordinary value of that great institution in providing these standards.

It is for consideration, again, as to whether some form of test ought not to be introduced—if not made compulsory, at least encouraged—in regard to apprenticeships. On this matter, both employers and trade unions have been held by some who are interested in it to be a little too conservative. And there ought to be further inducement, possibly by way of bonus or some recognition, for those who succeed in passing these tests, not necessarily because the tests by themselves represent so much a particular skill, but as a means of stimulating people to go through and complete that extra formal training. There are, of course, an infinite number of national certificates that can be taken.

I should like now to turn briefly to the Industrial Training Council itself. There have been some criticisms of it. It was described to last year's British Association as "a body of terrifying timidity and impotence". One has only to see the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, to see that this could only be a false and defamatory statement. But what my noble friend Lord Citrine said is, I think, valid. The I.T.C. must, if it is to avoid Government action, step up its efforts very considerably. I am sure that no one knows this better than the noble Lord himself. In so far as we can, we should strengthen his hand in his new position by making it clear (I am sure this is the view of all your Lordships) that we expect the I.T.C. to achieve a great deal in a very short time; and then I hope he will be able to obtain the necessary funds. If extra funds are required, I do not know how or where they will be obtained—whether there is a possibility of some further support from the Government. Again, there was this delicate question of a levy on industry, which I will not go into now. But certainly there is no doubt that money must be made available for the projection of what they are seeking to do.

Here, I wonder whether some of these interesting bodies which sometimes crop up at Election time, like Aims of Industry, or even Prentice Varley, might not play a more useful part in this field than by trying to win the forthcoming London County Council election. At any rate, clearly public relations need to be strengthened by every device that is available. This is the problem that confronts us in a democracy: we do not want to have compulsion, and we must have recourse to techniques which would be unnecessary in another country.

I would point out that we are trying to do something in some ways, the hard way. This problem would not arise in Russia. There the money is forthcoming; the day release is compulsory; the training facilities are available, and they are training their people. We, as we know, are not training enough of our people. They are not getting the advantage they should have, and the country is not getting the advantage that we ought to get, from this ability and from the high level of education Which we are seeking to give in the schools. I would therefore ask the Government to consider in what further ways they can help industry, the I.T.C. and other bodies, to produce better results in this short period (and, again, it is a short period: we have no time to waste): whether there are not further financial inducements that could be given to industry, perhaps by way of tax relief or in some other way. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, is not here at the moment. Nobody would be in a better position than he, now that he has left his "dead end" job, to tell us how it might be done. We have to use every method possible.

I should like to end by again referring to the remarks made by certain noble Lords, and particularly those that came from the Prelates' Bench, in regard to the objective of all this. My Lords, it is very difficult to separate vocational training and formal technical training from either forms of training. I am quite certain that some of the most valuable forms of training that can be given to the apprentice or other young people in industry will not always be purely vocational, to the extent that non-vocational activities, particularly of the adventurous kind, or whatever they may be, are mixed up in it. The greater the extent of that, the more the gain that will come to the community as a whole, and the more the happiness and satisfaction to these young workers in industry.

5.56 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a most useful and interesting debate and, as I think every noble Lord has said, we are greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, for giving us an opportunity of discussing this very important matter. We have had very valuable contributions from every noble Lord who has spoken and I will comment on them in due course. But, meanwhile, I should like to make one or two general observations.

First of all, this is a subject which I am sure has a great appeal to us all. It certainly had an appeal to me long before there was any question of a "bulge". I always felt that industry, technical colleges and other institutions for training young people should walk hand in hand. At one time, because of my interest in this subject, I was in danger of becoming a professional presenter of prizes of technical colleges. We now have the urge, and perhaps the happiness, of having a "bulge", in addition to this problem of providing skilled people in industry—and that is a very great problem indeed. It is a problem for two reasons. The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, said that there were two sides to the training of young people. There are indeed two sides. One is to fit them for a happy, useful and practical life; and the other is to meet the national need for skilled people.

There have been rapid changes in recent years. Scientific discoveries, technological advances, new materials and new methods have all had their effect on this need to train young people. On the other hand, training in other nations has been going on and we have to compete with those other nations. The one thing we have always had is the advantage of exporting our technical skills. I do not mean our people—I mean the production which bears the impress of the skilled man. That need is growing greater, because it is from our skilled men, of course, that many higher posts are filled and should be filled.

Management as a whole benefits from providing proper training and enough of it. Anyone listening to this debate might have felt that very little has been done. I do not think that is the case. I think a great deal has been done; but I agree with all those noble Lords who have stressed that it is still not enough. However, do not let us forget that a lot has been done. I feel that we have introduced into industry a leaven of what is needed, and that in time the leaven will grow. I personally should not like to see compulsion, if it can be avoided, and I imagine that most noble Lords will agree with that. A great many firms are doing a very good job indeed: they are training people properly; and they are expanding their training facilities and are taking a great deal of trouble as regards the human qualities.

The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, in giving us his very interesting speech, referred to one thing which is, I think, of outstanding importance, too. That is the question of training for all, for there are fewer and fewer what I would call unskilled jobs in factories. There are many reasons why certain firms cannot undertake ordinary craft apprenticeship training or any other kind of apprenticeship. But young workers can all be trained, and every firm can see that they are given training in the job they are doing and in wider fields. I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, drew attention to that point.

He asked what was being done about the "bulge" in the public sector, by which I assume he meant the nationalised industries and Government establishments—the Civil Service and so on. My Lords, I am glad to be able to say—and I have examined it carefully—that the nationalised industries are doing a very good job in the selection of boys and girls and in the training of them. They have nothing to be ashamed of.

The noble Lord also referred to the non-federated firms. Well, the courses being arranged by the federated firms are open to the non-federated firms, and I think we should do everything we can to get them to take that opportunity and to take advantage of the training facilities that are there. I am sure that all your Lordships are glad to see that there is a movement towards this group arrangement, because the position is difficult for small firms. Many of them have not the equipment; and, for various reasons, they are not in a position to give a thorough training. They give some training, but not the thorough training which the group arrangements make possible. The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, concluded by saying, "Grasp the opportunity of the 'bulge'", and I think we should look upon it as an opportunity and not as a handicap. It is an opportunity to get more young people into industry and to train them properly for the tasks that lie ahead.

The noble Lord, Lord Citrine, made what I would term a vigorous and helpfully critical speech. He started off by referring to the absence of publicity for the meeting arranged by the Council yesterday. I could not help feeling that, now that Lord Citrine is speaking, perhaps we shall get some publicity in this very important matter.


I hope the noble Lord does not mistake me for a Minister in another place.


The noble Lord said that we cannot coerce too far; and I think that is true. You cannot coerce people: you can inspire people, and you can get people to do things by example. There is a lot of propaganda work to be done here, and to be done by all kinds of people. The noble Lord referred to difficulties at the Government training centres, and an explanation advanced by the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, was that they were perhaps sited in places of full employment. My Lords, I have a note here which says that there are first-year apprenticeship courses at Hillington, near Glasgow, at Felling, on Tyneside, and at Aintree, on Merseyside, and there has been just as much difficulty in getting firms in these areas to take up places at the centres as there has been with firms in the more buoyant areas. I have no doubt that the Ministry of Labour will have regard to what has been said on this subject. The noble Lord, Lord Citrine, concluded by saying that he was not satisfied, and I think that is one of the really hopeful things that has been said; because, if we are not satisfied, we shall get something done about it—and in this subject we must not be complacent.

I should like to refer next to the speech by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Sheffield, who lives in one of our great industrial areas. He said that the "bulge" was an opportunity and a challenge, and with that I thoroughly agree. He also said that to get an advance in this matter of training young people needs the support of widespread and intelligent public opinion, and that is what we have to create. I agree with his description of youth as one of our most valuable assets; and it becomes more valuable if it is trained properly, and less valuable if it is allowed to go into "dead end" occupations without any thought being given to its training. The right reverend Prelate also drew attention to the importance of training at all levels. There is a lot being done in that respect, too. When a man becomes a foreman, there are opportunities of training there They have their own institute, which has training courses and is doing a very good job indeed. The right reverend Prelate, as did another noble Lord, referred to the desirability of young people remaining at school; and that is the view the Government take. The Government would like to see them remain at school, and will do anything they can to encourage that: because the longer they can remain at school the better is their foundation and their basis for what is to come afterwards.

The right reverend Prelate also mentioned a matter which appealed to me very greatly. He described it as matching the boy and the girl to the right job. That is very important, and it is up to the people in charge of the apprentices to see that they are in the right job. I have known many cases where a youth has been hopeless at a certain job, but upon being moved to another he finds it is just the right job for him. I am sure that if industry consider that aspect of it they would do a lot of good.

The right reverend Prelate referred to the training required to make these youths into citizens. He referred to the work being done in the Peak District. I think that is a very important aspect too, and I should like to mention one thing which I think is important: the parents ought to be informed of the progress of their children. So many firms make not the slightest attempt to keep the parents informed or to keep in touch with the parents. It has been my experience that if this information is given in the right way, the boys and girls appreciate it.

Mention was made of the fact that a great deal of discussion about youth relates to leisure rather than to work, and that there is not enough talk about work. But work is the basis of true happiness and satisfaction, and I think we should always try to make young people take a pride in their work, whatever it may be. I do not agree that there are certain kinds of work in which they cannot take a pride. I think one can take a pride in most kinds of work and there are many kinds of job which have to be done. I am sure the miners take a pride in their work, though it is not the easiest or the cleanest job in the world. Some of us would not like it, but the miners take a pride in it.

Then the noble Viscount, Lord Monck, referred to the interest in the job and to what the National Association of Boys' Clubs were doing. It is important that young people should know what things are for and the people with whom they come in contact. I know many firms who have what they call an induction class. They take a boy or a girl, see that they know the various people and know what they are doing, so that they begin to realise what their own job is and where they fit into the whole picture. I think that that is important, and I am sure we were all interested to hear what the National Association of Boys' Clubs were doing in their classes on introduction to industry.

The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, talked about the international situation. This country is doing a great deal to try to help other nations, particularly those nations for which we have a certain responsibility, such as the nations we have led to independence. I do not think those nations will look back at our bad practices (and no one will deny that there were bad practices) but rather they will look at what the position is to-day; and there is a great deal of good to look at. It is important that they should not make the same mistakes we made, which they probably would make if they were left on their own. Instead they will have examples before them of what is happening to-day. I personally think that industrial conditions are becoming better and better. After all, industrial conditions (I hope I am not talking too long; I will not be much longer) are often the inducement to people to work in a place. Someone said that it is not always the money, and I agree that it is not always the money. I have known people come to a place where the buildings have been good, the surroundings have been good, the care given them has been good, and they have valued that more than money.

The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, said that he had left a "dead end" occupation and was now going to enter into a business occupation. I am sure either the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, or I, or many of your Lordships, will be glad to arrange a refresher course for him he has any need of it. The noble Viscount talked about quantity and quality, and I think that is what this debate is about. He also mentioned the need for flexibility. He talked about traditional skills and the need to train on the shop floor. He mentioned the men who, while they have not much physical work to do, were in charge of expensive machines and elaborate processes, and were therefore in need of training in those matters, too. The noble Viscount talked of the promotion of charge-hands to supervisor and to posts of great responsibility. I felt that the theme running through his remarks was: proper training and the chance to come up, through skill, to positions of responsibility. The noble Viscount also reminded us that this was a problem of national importance and that it was to our national advantage to train people.

The right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, gave us a very interesting talk. He spoke about youth being lured away from school too soon. I have already said that that is something which is having careful consideration, and anything that can be done to prevent that from happening will be done. The right reverend Prelate also spoke about the need for technical skill, and made a plea for broader training, which is a wise thing. I think it is to everyone's advantage if as wide and as broad a training as possible is given. Besides, so many people to-day need to know more about many things besides a particular craft. The right reverend Prelate also referred to the fact that some people could not take a pride in doing difficult jobs, but remarked that it was dangerous to make generalisations. I think that many of these problems are up to the management: if the management is right, the people working will be right, too.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred to training for commerce and to the moves being made by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. This particular subject is an important one and it is having the personal attention of my right honourable friend the Minister of Education. I agree that there is need for encouragement in this respect. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, asked me what steps the Government would take if the results of all this propaganda and urging were not satisfactory. I should prefer to answer that question when we know that they are not satisfactory. Let us encourage industry. Let us do everything we can to make this a success. The noble Lord also asked what further help the Government can give. When we see whether the development is really keeping pace with the requirement, maybe we shall have another talk about it.

My Lords, I have tried to comment on the main points raised by noble Lords taking part in this debate. In conclusion, I should like to say a word about the Industrial Training Council and the Carr Report. I am sure that we all feel that the Carr Report was a most helpful advance. One of their recommendations was the setting up of an Industrial Training Council. The Council has a distinguished membership and has done a great deal through the enterprise of its first Chairman, the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton. As the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, mentioned. Mr. George Lowthian has now taken command, although the interest of the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, is quite undiminished, as we have seen this afternoon, and he remains a member of the Council.

The Council has two problems: the problem of quality and the problem of quantity. A continued effort in propaganda and advice will be needed to help industry in this campaign. I hope that our debate this afternoon will be widely read, and that industry will realise that it is in its own interests, as well as in the interests of the young people of this country, to do all it can to see that training is adequate and of the right quality. We all know how we depend upon industry to give us our daily bread. We have to export industrial goods in order to import food and raw materials, and we are up against some pretty severe competition. It can be overcome and will be overcome, however, provided that men are properly trained in the skills which are inherent in our race.

6.25 p.m.


My Lords, I am much indebted to all noble Lords, all of high distinction, who have made this debate such a real success. I know that my colleagues on the Industrial Training Council, and especially Mr. George Lowthian, its new Chairman, will find much encouragement in what has been said from every quarter of the House. Incidentally, there is a move in certain quarters to deride the activities of this Chamber. Comparisons are odious. There was a debate on this same subject in another place in the summer, if noble Lords would care to read it. I am not going to suggest that it was not a good debate but I am certainly going to say that this debate has been first class and informed on the subject in every degree. I am sure that any unbiased reader of both debates would strongly uphold the prestige of this Chamber.

I would thank especially the noble Lord, Lord Mills, for his contribution. He did not exactly answer the question I asked him about the public sector. I should be the first to admit that in the public sector a great deal has been done and is being done, possibly more than in the private sector, in the training of employees, but the question I asked him—and I hope he will look at it—was: can we count on all sections of the public sector in giving us the extra 20 per cent. of the "bulge" that we need? That is the 64,000 dollar question, if your Lordships do not mind my saying so.


My Lords, the answer is generally, Yes.


My Lords, I am delighted to hear it. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, will not mind my remarking that it was a great privilege to me to have him following me. I count it among the most valuable experiences of my life that at one period I worked in closest association with two of the greatest men that the trade union movement has thrown up in the last hundred years—the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, and Mr. Ernest Bevin. I learned more from these two men than from any other quarter. It was a valuable bit of industrial training, if I may put it that way. And to have the noble Lord speak in the debate I was privileged to initiate was a great satisfaction to me.

I am also extremely indebted to the two right reverend Prelates for their most valuable contributions, and I would thank them for being here. I would apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Lawson. I was summoned to Hansard to solve some of the inaccuracies of my own speech, and by the time I had done he had nearly finished. I ask him to forgive me, and I assure him that tomorrow I will read most carefully what he said. Again I thank your Lordships. Nothing has been said by any speaker which my colleagues on the Industrial Training Council would in any way contradict. They would all be enthusiastically in favour, especially of certain suggestions for more financial help which were made in some quarters. I thank: your Lordships, one and all, and beg leave to withdraw my Motion for papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at twenty-eight minutes past six o'clock.