HL Deb 21 January 1970 vol 307 cc131-219

2.49 p.m.

LORD BIRDWOOD rose to call attention to the need for industrial training and retraining and to the working of the Industrial Training Act; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I must begin by declaring an interest, to to the extent that I work in training, but as a result I speak on the subject with a certain amount of conviction. I am uncomfortably aware of the eminence of so many of this afternoon's speakers who have made profound contributions to training. From the distinguished speakers who are to follow I look forward with particular anticipation to hearing the noble Lords, Lord Jackson of Burnley, Lord Morris of Grasmere and Lord Mottistone, who from their active involvement in the training world bring massive insight and experience to the questions still to be answered.

I look forward, too, to the maiden speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, whose experience, again, both as a full-time company training officer and as a member of a training board, ensures that his participation in this debate will be valued by all who hear him. But, my Lords, looking through the list of speakers it is hardly fair to single out particular individuals, because it seems that every participant this afternoon will have a contribution based on a day-to-day knowledge of the problems involved.

May I begin my remarks by being the first person (because I do not think I shall be alone in this) to have second thoughts about the wording of the Motion. I refer to the word "re-training". Detailed reading of the Notices and Order Papers will show that this debate is something of an orphan child, but when I took on my foster role I felt that the Motion should stay in its original form to allow me to make this specific point. Training or re-training, the Motion as written implies a semantic difference. I submit that there is not: that each training episode in a lifetime should be regarded as a separate event.

Nobody would disagree that there have been great changes in training in this country in the last few years. Most people connected with training can recall the three aims expressed in the 1962 White Paper on training. They were to relate training to economic needs and technological developments; to improve the overall quality of training and establish minimum standards; and to spread training costs more easily. These, with slight changes, became the three objectives of the 1964 Industrial Training Act as expressed in the General Guide; namely: To ensure an adequate supply of properly trained men and women at all levels in industry";

secondly, to secure an improvement in the quality and efficiency of industrial training";

and, lastly, to share the cost of training more evenly between firms ".

Have the changes in the industrial training picture represented the achieving of these objectives? In the main, I believe, yes—by the Act and the people who implement it.

There is unquestionably a new maturity in attitudes towards training on the part of both industrial employers and the people to be trained. To paraphrase the second of the three main objectives of the Act as laid down in the General Guide, there really is an improvement in the quality and efficiency of industrial training".

Not before time, remembering the deterioriation in our training performance compared with other industrial societies at the time the Act was passed. At that time then; was the predictable flurry of complaint and scorn at the activities of the fledgling industrial training boards— not unconnected, one feels, with their cash demands. The criticism of individual levy systems continues now, as everyone knows, but there is, broadly speaking, an acceptance that the boards are performing responsibly and usefully. Many of the letters that boards get point this, though appreciation predictably gets less publicity than conflict.

We could say that there are three levels of relationship between industries and their training boards. There is the relationship where the contact between board and industry has deteriorated into public feuding, sometimes because of insensitivity on the part of the board, sometimes because of resentment and prejudice in the industry. Thankfully, this is a small minority. Then there is the relationship where the activities of the board are tolerated in the same way as a family tolerates a slightly eccentric if avaricious relative. And, lastly, there is a genuine dialogue of trust between the board and industry where the board has taken its place as the training mentor for that industry. When one considers that, apart from the "little Neddie", an industrial training board is sometimes the only body representing a complete industry's interests, we might expect this last category of relationship to be the one most likely to develop; and so it seems to be.

One of the most familiar complaints against training boards has been their alleged extravagance of administration costs. This can be convincingly squashed by the figures, and I take mine from the Financial Times of December 19 last year. For the year ended March 31, 1969, grants paid out actually exceeded levy income, this being possible because of the D.E.P. grants to boards. Out of the levy total of over £129½ million, administration costs absorbed the very reasonable figure of a little under £4 million. Of course, individual industries may still have cause to complain about their particular board's profligacy, but taken as a whole the proportion of administrative costs to total levy demands shows unusually competent housekeeping.

Still quoting from the Financial Times, I should like to remind the House of some more figures about the training boards. When they submitted reports last March, the 26 boards (there are now 28, incidentally) covered 845,000 establishments and 14 million employees. They spent £6 million on their training advisory services, centres and courses. Capital expenditure on training facilities exceeded £2.4 million, while the cost of training premises and equipment, and money spent on training publications, totalled £934,000. These are undoubtedly impressive figures, and I would repeat that in the way the money is distributed the Act is being implemented conscientiously and well. I referred to the second objective of the Act a short while back. I regret that it is the third objective— that is,"to share the cost of training more evenly between firms "—which occupies so much of our thinking about the performance of training boards when it could be said that it is the objective which they are achieving best.

At this point I should like to air some specific areas of unease about the operation of the Act. I know, for instance, that it is felt that training boards in a number of cases move in too hastily with recommendations before making fundamental assessments of training needs in their field. Again, some of the boards have been criticised for an overacquisitive outlook on their responsibilities, or for favouring established forms of training at the expense of innovatory. It is worth considering on this last point whether a board should not have to explain why it rejects a particular form of training if a grant application is turned down. Inevitably, training is undertaken by some companies only for the purpose of recouping grant, and I would remind your Lordships of the apochryphal story of the managing director ordering his training executive to"make a profit on the training account".

It is worth noting that there is some justification in the claim that the levy/ grant system works against the company with a stable work force, certainly in the short or medium arm. A firm can perfectly easily make the same product for a ten-year cycle, and there is self-evidently a limit to the amount of training it can undertake even allowing for natural waste. We might mention, too, that in the majority of cases levy/grant fails to recognise that firms with different mixes of skill will have different training needs. This, I know, is changing as the boards appraise their own role. For most of them the years of pioneering are over, and we see them entering a phase of consolidation. I believe that during this time we shall see a greater refinement of the levy system with levy percentages tailored to detailed requirements.

I would in this context refer your Lord-ships to the plans published by the Engineering Industrial Training Board for a multi-tier levy, recognising the Board's differing function for different sizes of company, as being a model example of thinking in this direction. As the Act stands, the self-employed and owners of businesses and partnerships are excluded from its powers. I am frankly not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, may have something pertinent to say on this point, so I will leave it to him to enlarge on it from his point of view. I know that this part of the Act is being examined, and I look forward to hearing what changes, if any, are to be suggested.

Another area in which there has been criticism but in which there is evidence of real effort to change is the range of skills chosen as first-attention priorities. Craft training still takes pride of place and more boards are moving into module training systems. The training of technicians is being studied energetically and a number of boards have recommended on the training of technologists. The noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, has made some specially detailed studies; I refer to an article in the December issue of the journal of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education. It would be less than prudent of me to digress into that area.

Operative training claims a considerable amount of attention, naturally; and from the accounts of the boards submitted last year we find excellent training schemes and guides from the engineering, wool, jute and flax and ceramics training boards. When considering the balance between craft, operative or other categories—indeed, their fundamental definitions—we touch on the first of a number of relationships that I want to mention. I refer to the relationship between trade unions and training.

Meanwhile, returning to the areas of criticism, an emphasis on off-the-job training has been criticised. I am not surprised that some of the boards seemed to give an unnatural importance to off-the-job courses, if only as a reaction to the training situations they confronted when they were formed, where great chunks of industry were doing all their training on the job, simply by telling a lad to "watch how it's done, boy; then do it!" With a cooling down of this reaction there is a much higher value given to on-the-job methods; and most of the schemes are proving systematic and relevant.

Looking at the whole training structure in the country, particularly as it is working through the training boards, I am satisfied that there is a far greater awareness of training benefits; that cost benefit analysis studies have convinced management of training as a direct profit factor; that small firms are being helped by the group training schemes; in short, that training looks very different and much healthier than it did a few years ago. This could be our cue for complacency, and of course it must not be. I referred a moment ago to operative craft and technician training being tackled with energy and competence. Even so, there are still shortages in many skills. In some parts of the country there are up to seven vacancies in a particular trade for every employed man, a situation implying, at first sight, the need for better training and much more of it. I said "at first sight"; we are now told that we must plan to train a man three or four times during his working life if he is to keep pace with future developments in industrial technology.

Do we just go in and start training? No, of course not. It is stating the obvious that a fundamental skill needed if we are to rationalise our training energies is an accurate forecasting of manpower needs. Obvious now; yet the concept of manpower planning is only now starting to take hold. A number of training boards have embarked on manpower studies of their own, others are gathering information on manpower forecasts from what is being done within their industries. These are hopeful signs of the effort being made to relate present policies to future needs; but it is still not nearly enough. The present basis for forecasting all too often involves companies in projecting their future manpower needs on the basis of to-day's manpower mix and to-day's industrial technologies. In a world where we now know so much about the construction of mathematical models, where quantitative and probability techniques are lying around, tools waiting to be used, it is extraordinary that manpower forecasting is still in such an undeveloped state.

Everyone expects great things of the new Institute of Manpower studies which, if nothing else, will provide for the first lime a pool of information on the subject. I do not think that it is possible to over-estimate manpower forecasting. But I do think that our interest in it has come very late, considering that it was only in last year's Report of the Central Training Council that we read: We should therefore like to see the Department and the Manpower Research Unit in particular, working in the closest association with the Boards to improve the basic information which is needed."— a wish expressed roughly five years late, I believe.

In the paragraphs given to "Man-power" in this Report, the C.T.C. makes a number of general points and it is clear that far more attention is being given to this subject than ever before. As with any other vogue idea, we could be trapped into thinking of manpower planning as the economic cure-all when it is simply a systematic approach. But it is worth considering that the training boards should aim to disengage themselves, even to wither away, to be replaced by industrial manpower boards responsible for forecasting and reacting to manpower needs and surpluses within their industry. I cannot emphasise enough how urgent I feel the subject of manpower planning to be. Without it, training policies can only be informed guesses. Without a foundation of manpower information, the only base for creating a training strategy is what has gone on before—hardly a satisfactory state of affairs.

My Lords, do not misunderstand me: I am not advocating that people should be trained now for skills that will not be needed until 1980. But neither do I think that a man must virtually be out of a job before he is eligible to train for the next. In any considerations of the increasing interchangeability of skill in our economy, we find ourselves returning to the crucial question of union co-operation. I see no reason why this should fail to be forthcoming; and I believe that much of what was said at the 1969 T.U.C. Congress at Portsmouth supports this. It is surely a fundamental part of a union's responsibilities to its members that every man should enjoy the maximum possible opportunities to fit himself into a framework of a development industrial technology. In America this has meant that some unions have had to acknowledge changes in the nature of industrial activity in their province and changes in the job classifications of their members. There must be a flexibility in our unions corresponding to this acceptance of the best training as every man's social prerogative. I would say it in stronger terms: no individual should face life unequipped to do the work he can be valued for because of short-sightedness of public planning or the parsimony of a profit-conscious firm or the protectionist: hierarchy of his labour organisation.

My Lords, it is not my purpose to denigrate the progress that is being made to ensure both that people can do the work which becomes available and that they will be happy doing it. Government training centres are coping with the first; and embryonic studies in job enrichment are giving us directions to think in for the second. But I see no signs that the Government training centres are being strained by the demand, running at the moment, I believe, at 70 per cent. capacity, and is it any wonder, when so much conspires against the individual's taking a course at one of these centres until his personal situation virtually forces him to it? Would it be so difficult to tie in the work of these centres to known or accurately predicted job demands for the area? In passing, I should like to ask the Government whether a market survey has ever been done on the attitudes towards these centres. I should be interested in the results of any such survey.

On this subject I should like to make a specific recommendation for the establishment of mobile training centres, caravanserai trimmed to the specific skill needs of an area losing its traditional industries. I know of at least one large company that can mobilise a training unit in this way. In our present-day fluid industrial environment it seems a logical development to consider.

I cannot reach this point without touch-in on the role of the Central Training Council. Referring again to a T.U.C. source, I quote: … there is nothing to suggest that progress in industrial training since 1964 would have been significantly less had the Central Training Council not existed. We could have a whole debate on the role of the C.T.C. and its triangular relationship with the D.E.P. and the industrial training boards. In any consideration of the working of the Industrial Training Act the function of the C.T.C. must be defined. As it is constituted, it is little more than a training annex of the D.E.P. There is nothing essentially wrong about that, but we must be honest in our appraisal of its performance in this light. I gladly leave it to more experienced individuals to argue out the future role of the C.T.C. I think it should have a better defined role than its present walk-on part as a D.E.P. marionette, or it should cease to exist. The individual boards can, with very few exceptions, muster both the expertise and the co-operative effort to tackle problems in those areas of common activity. Management training, clerical training and planning for metrication are all examples where the boards are creating vigorous programmes virtually independent of C.T.C. ventures. If this is recognised, and if we propose a changing purpose for the boards towards manpower planning entities, the justification for the C.T.C, even as it presently is, diminishes.

My Lords, I have mentioned the C.T.C., the training boards, the D.E.P. and industry—one group of relationships. I have missed out education. I have missed it out almost as convincingly as the world of industrial training manages to miss it out. I know that there is a great deal of co-operation and mutual respect between the trainers and the educators, but I find it thoroughly illogical that I should even have to discriminate between them. It is my belief that there could be far more interpenetration between education and training, and I believe that this could be done without dehumanising our education or frittering away our training efforts. I believe that this has never been possible before but is now; and I should like your Lordships to consider the possibility.

As I said before, I should like to see a central manpower co-ordinating force. Call it council; call it authority; give it— or deny it—executive power: but create it. This authority would collect all the information on manpower that is available from all sources. Demographic changes, industrial growth or decay by area, skilled classifications, unemployment trends—all could be held and collated in its databank. I envision that the guidance that this body could give should start well before the end of school; at the latest for the whole of the last year. The individual should be able to plug-in to a system which would allow him to make those decisions which gave him the best chance of a fruitful, rewarding working life. Only now do we have the means of establishing a databank on the necessary scale. The computer has come in for some hard words lately. This manpower databank that I propose, holding the achievements and skills of millions of people and the plans and technologies of Government Departments and companies, could be what people fear. But I believe that what it would achieve would be immeasurable.

My Lords, in counsels of perfection like this I have strayed a little from the working of the Industrial Training Act. I have been—and I apologise for it— superficial in the way I have skimmed from subject to subject. Detailed discussion of any single aspect of the Act or the bodies involved in training could occupy us all for many days together. We could talk on computer training, or management training and its relationship to élitism, or the Haslegrave and Mant Reports. We could speculate whether the boards should not be reconstituted by geographical area rather than by industry. We could look at the overlapping responsibilities of boards dealing with peripheral industries. I hope that some of these matters will be raised this afternoon, but I will close by repeating that we must for the moment live with this Act; and in the practical application of its principles we could be doing very much worse. In common with any piece of pioneering legislation there are detailed changes due, and a lot which we might feel could be improved is being examined at this time. Surely the big gaps lie not with the Act but with society. The failures, on the whole, are not failures of the Act but failures of people. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, may I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood for having introduced this Motion at such an opportune time, and compliment him on the way in which he has initiated our discussion? I should like, also, to say how much I am looking forward to the maiden speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Mills. He and I work in the same line of country and I am sure that he will make a notable contribution to our debate. My pretext for taking part in this debate is that I am in charge of the training of nearly 20,000 people in a large industrial company, and I can, therefore, speak from firsthand experience. Clearly, this is an enormous subject and one which it is quite impossible for me to cover adequately in the short time during which I propose to detain your Lordships. There are only a few points which I want to make: first, of a general kind concerning the operation of the Act itself and, secondly, having to do with the particular aspects of industrial training.

In earlier debates in your Lordships' House I was an advocate, and later a supporter, of legislative action in this field. Now that the Act has been in force for some time I continue to believe in its underlying objectives and to feel that its operations have, on the whole, been worthwhile. I should like particularly to commend the way in which a number of training boards have given priority to the need for adequate identification of training requirements as an essential preliminary to determining the kind of training that should be carried out. I have also admired the way in which some boards have systematically gone about meeting this need by stressing the importance of breaking down jobs into their constituent elements; of establishing the knowledge and skills for which these elements call; of determining the level of competence actually possessed by the job holder and, finally, by reference to the difference between the standard of performance that is desired in the job and that which is in fact achieved, of building up a comprehensive picture of the training required by each individual.

However, there seems to me to be a danger that training boards may not remain content to make the payment of grants to companies conditional on the carrying out of such general arrangements, but will be tempted (even now I seem to detect some tendency in this direction) to require firms to operate on the basis of detailed systems and procedures, and even of particular management policies, which, however admirable they may be in themselves, should not concern our training boards. Another obvious danger is that boards may be tempted to maintain elaborate schemes for the payment of levy and grant long after the need for these schemes has disappeared. For we must not forget, my Lords, that such schemes operate at a considerable cost in terms of people employed unproductively both in the training boards and in industrial companies. I take it as a welcome sign that some boards at least have already shown that they look forward to the dismantling of these arrangements so far as possible and to the maximum extent that is practicable, once the basic objectives of the Act have largely been met.

The only other question that I should like to pose about the training boards themselves is whether the 30 or so that have now been established are not perhaps too many. Some of them, of course, are well-established, but one wonders whether a further round of consultation would be helpful, designed to establish how far some amalgamation of existing boards might be practicable, and even welcome, particularly to firms which now have responsibilities to a number of different boards and may fervently be wishing that it was only one with which they were concerned. So much, my Lords, for the Act itself.

May I now turn to a particular aspect of industrial training in which I have some up-to-date experience? I refer to that concerned with the management of people and particularly with their motivation, for it seems to me that, of all subjects calling for training in industry to-day, this is perhaps the most important and the one in which the return is potentially greatest. I suggest that in recent years the need for such training has been accentuated by a number of factors. May I just mention some of them, without commenting on their political or economic merit? There is full employment, resulting in a man's no longer going in fear of the sack. There is the Welfare State, helping to give people in some cases more money when they are put of work than when they are at it. There is the urge in people to participate more fully in the making of decisions which affect them. And, finally, there is the modern productivity bargain, often offering a high stable salary instead of the former relatively low basic wage, with its supplementary bonuses varying according to the rate of work performed. Factors such as these certainly seem to have reduced the significance of the straightforward financial incentive and have made the task of managing and getting people to give of their best much more important than was the case a generation ago.

I was recently told by the manager of a large factory, who had, with trade union co-operation, successfully introduced into his works a productivity bargain, that the achievement was in his view due largely to training—not so much to training in the more mechanistic matters of the study and organisation of work, as in the management of people. I should like briefly to tell your Lordships a little more about the content of the training that is to-day being done in this field by the more progressive companies. I have already mentioned the subject of motivation, the need for a better understanding of what makes people"tick" at work and concerned, therefore, not merely with money but with the kind of work that is being done and the extent to which it offers responsibility, achievement and the recognition of achievement, the possibility of self-development and so on.

Then there is the need for management increasingly to gain acceptance of change on the part of those they manage by analysing and presenting the change desired in terms not simply of its benefit to the organisation but of its pros and cons as seen by those who are being called on to implement it. In passing, I would observe that in this area the cardinal need of training, in my view, is the preparation for and implementation of change: change in organisation, change in working practices and, above all, change in behaviour. Lastly, there is the need for management to become more proficient in drawing out ideas from all those who have a contribution to make, and to gain from others a better understanding of the effect of individual and group behaviour.

In my recent experience, it is of little use undertaking training of this kind in some cloistered educational establishment; it must be done within the relevant factory, so that the lessons learned can be applied to specific work situations. Here I find myself very much in sympathy with the theme of the recent British Institute of Management Report by Mr. Alistair Manford, touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, just now. This is that we are in danger of placing too much reliance on institutions like the new business schools, catering, as they must, in a largely academic way for the high fliers of industry, and thus not being in a position so readily to meet the needs of the ordinary manager on the job for training in the fields of communication and relationships.

As Mr. Manford argues in that Report, it is the industrial company that is the ultimate consumer of management education, and it is satisfaction of the needs of the particular organisation that in the last resort is the justification for industrial training. In my view, it is also helpful if training in the management of people can be given not separately to different levels of management and supervision in turn but at the same time to people representing a number of levels, and in the long run including also shop stewards. This, again, is because the problems which seem to be thrown up are often concerned with communication, trust and relationships between people; and in real life the people who are involved in a particular problem prove to be employed in jobs at more than one level in the organisation.

The last thing I should like to say about training is that it is a field in which it has been found increasingly desirable to depart from formal courses and to use methods of general discussion and even of what might be called consultancy. Here the need is for people who are able from their observation of the symptoms displayed in working groups to help management in diagnosing what the causes of their organisational and communication problems really are, and in formulating plans of action for their solution. As with everything else, however, it is line management who, in the last resort, must take the responsibility for tackling problems of this kind, and all that the trainer or consultant can do is to help management to fulfil its basic purpose of—in the words favoured long ago by Colonel Irwin—" getting things done through people".

3.29 p.m.


My Lords, may I first join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, for introducing this subject for consideration in your Lordships' House, and for doing so in such a broadminded and critical manner. I must next express a special interest in this subject, because I have been privileged to be a member of the Central Training Council since its inception. I was not surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, referred to the anxieties and criticisms of the Central Training Council. I can assure him that the Council is well aware of these and has for sometime past been giving very serious consideration as to what its future and more effective contribution should be. I will not comment further on this aspect this afternoon.

I can also claim, more generally, to have been involved in the problems of industrial training in one way or another for something like 40 years. I had the benefit of serving my graduate apprenticeship with the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company and, like thousands of other men in this country and overseas, I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Sir Arthur Fleming, who introduced training schemes for craftsmen, technicians and professional engineers in Metropolitan Vickers well over 40 years ago, long before the passing of the Industrial Training Act. I therefore experienced a feeling of great sadness that Government intervention was necessary in a matter so fundamental to the progress of British industry. Had Sir Arthur Fleming remained with us until the consideration of this Act, he might well have said: "I showed you what to do and how to do it in Met. Vick 40 years ago". It is certainly 40 years since I heard him say that the most important raw material of industry is its young people. He trained these young people in large numbers, not only for Met. Vick, but for a whole diversity of companies and public bodies, who were very pleased to recruit the products of his training schemes.

It would of course be wrong to claim for Fleming that he was entirely altruistic in this matter. I have heard him described as the outstanding salesman of Met. Vick, and those of your Lordships who have travelled through Central Africa and South Africa will not have found many senior engineers who have not spent some time with Met. Vick in this country. In my opinion, we have paid a heavy price for too widespread and too prolonged a neglect of the good advice given and the example set by Sir Arthur Fleming.

There are so many aspects of this problem on which I should like to comment that I had great difficulty in making a selection. I was tempted to spend the whole of my time on the subject of manpower planning. It is a subject on which I have recently done a lot of talking elsewhere, and I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, referred to it this afternoon. I can think of no more important aspect of this subject than an elucidation of the problems and methods of manpower planning. Further than that I do not propose to comment.

I have a number of anxieties, but before giving expression to them I want to express my admiration for what has been achieved since 1964, no doubt in varying degrees within the different industrial training boards. Not surprisingly, I know most of what has happened in, and has been achieved by, the Engineering Industries Training Board, and there are a few things about it on which I should like to comment in detail. It is especially to be congratulated on its development of what is called the modular training scheme. This affords the possibility of relating training to job analysis —and this is, of course, part of manpower planning. It affords means of achieving a more objective and flexible training programme, suited not only to the different skills to be acquired but also to the different rates of learning of apprentices. Perhaps an even more important feature of the scheme is that it affords the possibility of establishing methods of assessment of apprentice performance as a criterion of ultimate certificate award of competence.

I think it is worth mentioning that the Engineering Industries Training Board has had in attendance at its courses 2,000 managers drawn from different sectors of the engineering industry; has issued 50 instruction manuals on different aspects of modular training; and has completed a pilot scheme, prior to general introduction of the modular proposals, which involved 6,000 trainees drawn from over 1,000 firms. This, I suggest, is a commendable achievement. But the Board has gone beyond that. It has prepared —not yet for implementation, because they are still under discussion—a parallel series of courses of further education which are interwoven with the modular schemes of training. It would perhaps to unwise to assume that the scheme will not run into difficulties, but I think that the principles of the scheme are generally accepted, and not the least encouraging evidence is that several other training boards are studying the applicability of the modular scheme to their respective industries.

The Engineering Industries Training Board has also introduced and conducted many courses for training supervisors. It has developed schemes for training technicians, which the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, mentioned as a crucial category of personnel between the craftsman and the chartered engineer which is becoming increasingly important as engineering becomes more sophisticated; and it has also made a useful, though not as yet very big, contribution to improved training of professional engineers. A great deal remains to be done, but I think it proper to say that the Engineering Industries Training Board appears to me to be approaching its problems with commendable determination. It was the first board to get effectively launched, and one must expect that some of the other training boards are lagging somewhat in their progress.

My Lords, I now turn to refer to two important organisational arrangements which extend beyond the Engineering Training Board. The first is the group training scheme. This is a scheme which involves the formation of associations of small or medium-sized firms for co-operative training under the sponsorship of an appointed training supervisor or training organiser. I think I am right in saying that the first group training scheme was introduced in Scotland some twelve years ago, or more, covering six electrical manufacturing firms and the two Electricity Generating Boards in Scotland.

I was fairly active inside the Institution of Electrical Engineers at that time, and we tried hopefully to achieve an extension of this scheme in England. I am bound to say that we had singularly little success in doing so. Your Lordships can imagine my satisfaction, therefore, at being able to say that at the present time over 500 group training schemes are in operation. At least 100 additional schemes are being planned, and in the engineering industry alone there are 200 such schemes, embracing 4,000 firms with a total employment of over 700,000. These figures sound impressive, but when you think of the total number of firms in this country, 4,000 is not a large number; and I think I am right in saying that an outstanding anxiety, affecting all the boards, so far as I know, is the problem of the small firm and how to achieve effective recruitment to them and training in them. The Central Training Council is doing all it can to encourage the training boards to deal with this problem; but it is not an easy one, and it may well be that some additional board or organisation will be necessary to deal with the small firm problem comprehensively and not merely within the scope of individual boards.

The second organisational arrangement that I want to mention is off-the-job training to which the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, referred. Some of your Lordships may still shiver a little if you take your minds back to your first entry into employment or, as in my case, into non-employment, involving the learning of a vocabulary which was not very suitable for domestic use. I can assure you that my first entry into industry was a pretty devastating experience—it was not, incidentally, in Met. Vick. The purpose of these off-the-job training schemes is to ensure that raw recruits to industry from school at the age of 16, or thereabouts, are adequately prepared for entry into the real life of employment. This is done in a variety of ways: in some cases in a training school or bay within the industrial concern; inside a Government training centre; a centre organised and run by a single training board, or a group of training boards; or within a technical college. The technical college organises not only the training but also the associated further education. I wish that the situation which exists within the engineering industry—in which there are at present, something like 30 off-the-job training centres organised by the board itself—was being reproduced in the other industrial training boards, because this is an immensely important problem.

I should like now to comment on a number of things in rather more general terms, and I want to pick up what the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said about the crucial importance of an effective interrelationship between industrial training and further education. This is a matter upon which many people have been anxious, because the education comes under the sponsorship of the Department of Education and Science and the training under the Department of Employment and Productivity. I think I can say that very serious attention is being given to this, but without as yet having resolved all the difficulties. I hope that in making his reply the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, will be able to give us assurance on several points.

First, I hope that he will be able to assure us that the plans for the growth of our colleges of further education are adequate to cater for the demands which are going to fall on them within the next decade or more—and in fact are already falling on them. I hope also that he may comment on what I believe to be the danger of the tendency—indeed, the desire—within the newly established polytechnics to walk away from association with part-time courses leading to diplomas and certificates, and to give their attention predominantly to degree courses. I greatly fear that the further education of our technicians and craftsmen is falling into the shade—and is already in the shade—of degree courses, and this is a very serious national situation.

I hope he will also assure us that every possible pressure is being applied to employers to afford day release to their employees, not only throughout the period of apprenticeship training, but within their careers. In other words, I hope that the Government are seeking with all possible urgency to ensure implementation of the Henniker Heaton Report to a much more effective degree than is yet the case. I think I am right in saying that in 1968, of the young people under the age of 18 who were in employment which required a substantial measure of organised training, the proportion not being afforded day release was of the order of 40 per cent.—about 30 per cent. for boys and 50 per cent. for girls. In total, there were about 200,000 of them. These were the young people who were in employment which required substantial training. I imagine that 200,000 is a smaller figure than the number of those in employment not requiring substantial training but whose continued education is not in consequence less important.

These demands, which I might call the normal demands, on further education are not the only ones that are going to fall on the colleges in the next decade and beyond. I suggest that a big load may fall on them with the introduction of the higher school-leaving age of 16. I am one of those who feel that many boys and girls would spend a more effective and educative year in the environment of a college of further education than by remaining at school.

I also want to make the point that it is time we got away from the concept that the attainment of a degree, a diploma or a certificate, with associated good training, in the late teens or early twenties is the end of the formal process of education and training, and that we must recognise that this is merely the end of the first phase of a continuing process which must extend throughout a career. We in this country have not in my opinion yet accepted the situation and the demands which will be placed on industry and education if we accept this concept.

May I say that, as I see it, the purpose of this in-career education would not be merely to facilitate adaptation of employees to changing technological situations; not merely to ensure that they learn new skills to replace old ones. It is important to educate employees to understand that the process of change has at its base certain economic considerations and certain sociological consequences to which they must also adapt themselves, and that they have an individual and collective responsibility for so doing. I am sure that many of them are not capable of doing this of their own volition, and it should be an integral part of further education to help them to do it.

I think there is a still further reason: an inevitable consequence of technological change is the availability of increasing leisure, and increasing leisure for a great many people who have not yet learned how to employ to good personal and communal advantage the leisure which they already have. If we neglect this we also shall be failing in our educational responsibilities. Taken together, these pose an immense vocational and non-vocational job for the universities, for colleges of further education, for sound and television broadcasting, and for industry itself. I hope that the Government will not lose any opportunity of making it plain what an immense job this is, and doing what they can to provide the necessary resources for dealing with it.

I should like now to say a word in supplementation of what the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said about the Government training centres. These worry me a good deal. I understand that in July, 1968, there were 39 Government training centres, with training places for 8,500 and a turnout capacity of 14,000 trained or retrained men a year. In 1971 the number of these centres will have grown to 54, the training places to about 13,000, and the annual output capacity to over 20,000. I appreciate and support the Government view that the primary responsibility for training and retraining rests with industry. I also appreciate that there are many men and women who hesitate to embark on retraining in a Government training centre, since this may ultimately require moving from their existing place of residence to a new environment. I am also aware, as the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said, that these training centres are not full of trainees. But 20,000 output a year seems to me grossly inadequate as a contribution to this retraining problem. I do not think I am wrong in saying that it is a rather modest number compared with the situation in Sweden. I should be glad if the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, would tell us (because I may be misunderstanding) on what grounds the Government think that this is an adequate provision.

In conclusion, if your Lordships will bear with me, I want to make what I am inclined to regard as my most important point. During the last twenty years I have spent a lot of time in the developing countries. I want to draw attention to what I believe to be our heavy responsibility to these countries. In their attempt to create an adequate body of well-educated and well-trained craftsmen, technicians and professional engineers, they are at present at a grave disadvantage in that they are in no position to afford good industrial training as a supplement to their courses of education. I know of no way in which this country could give more effective help to the developing countries than by providing on a much bigger scale opportunities for boys from overseas to receive good practical training in this country.

I should like to relate this particularly to the small and medium-sized firms and to our public utilities. Firms like Metropolitan Vickers and many others of similar size have over the years made a very important contribution in this respect. But I believe that the enviroment of the small firms and the public utilities may well be much more appropriate to the present state of development of the developing countries than the large industrial concerns. My impression is that the small and medium-sized firms and the public authorities are making a much smaller contribution in this connection than they should be. I was delighted to notice, when last year there passed through this House and the House of Commons the Transport and the Gas and Electricity Bills, that there was provision for using the facilities of these authorities for technical assistance and for training in aid of the developing countries. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, is in a position to tell us what use is being made of these facilities, and to what extent we are pressing for their greater use, because this would be for me a very valuable information.

May I finally draw attention to a problem which I think is rather serious. There are in this country many boys from the developing countries who are taking degrees in engineering and technology, and who either as an integral part of their degree course or subsequent to it need good practical training. Many of them are not getting it, and the industrial training boards have not so far been able to cater for these boys within their grant schemes. I should like to ask the noble Lord if he can tell us why it is not possible for the industrial training boards to treat these young people in the same way as our own apprentices. Does not Section 14 of the Industrial Training Act afford all the necessary facilities for this kind of treatment?

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful for the remarks that were made by the noble Lords, Lord Birdwood and Lord Rochester, about the kind of contribution I might be able to make to your Lordships' debate. At least I feel more settled and welcome in making my maiden speech after those few remarks. Nevertheless, I wish to beg your Lordships' indulgence during my maiden speech. I shall follow your Lordships' custom and be non-controversial in the subject matter I speak about, and I shall also be brief in what I have to say. I would also declare my personal interest as an active training executive in industry and as a member of an industrial training board.

I have often heard reference in your Lordships' House during the past year to industrial problems on the shop floor and to a need for a new approach to direct the energies of management and employees towards the aim of higher productivity at competitive cost. I feel that the interest of training boards and the interest of trainers in large companies can play a very substantial part in this aim. The type of training that is involved is unconventional and is not the kind of training we are used to. The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has spoken a good deal about motivation of people, and I make no apology if I cover some of the same ground.

The type of training I am speaking about embraces the involvement of employee's; a change in attitude of management and workpeople; a joint examination of working practices and the way work is set up; the reshaping and enrichment of jobs by agreement by both sides, and the opportunity for employees to accept a wider responsibility in the kind of work they undertake. From my own experience, I can say that this is no easy task. The amount of time that is needed in any particular factory for management and the staff concerned to undertake training for success can be a year; sometimes two years. But, again, my own thoughts on this matter show me that men and women who are called upon in this way to help reshape jobs become committed to the task; their attitude to work changes and they wish to take responsibility.

In my own company we are progressively applying these principles in all our factories. We are having a good measure of success and are now involving staff in the same way. I believe that productivity in real terms can result, and of course productivity gives room for better remuneration of people who work in any particular undertaking. But, more important, the opportunity for job satisfaction, and a real feeling of belonging to a particular undertaking, comes about. Useless and unnecessary stoppages can be reduced because of commitment. In my own company, again, shop stewards are involved in this process and become committed.

When jobs have been reshaped and enriched, there is a considerable retraining need and this retraining must be properly thought out and guided because it is then necessary that the people concerned can undertake the larger and more important jobs. Training boards, I know, have a tremendous task at the present moment in sound basic training, particularly in the small firms. But I feel that they ought to have a long-term aim to encourage industries to study behaviour at work and to carry out training in the way I have outlined. There are many ways in which practical help can be given. Grants for research into the behaviour of people are very important. I am appalled sometimes when I realise that all the expertise in this particular subject—I say all; at any rate, a good deal of it—rests with the Americans and we are very backward in it.

I have been impressed over the last few years by the contributions of boards to the quantity and quality of training. Boards have generally insisted that such training conforms to good standards and is logically arranged, but there is one problem I should like to raise, and this is the problem as seen through the eyes of the small board. Such a board views the needs and methods of achievement of its particular industry very differently from the larger boards. Small boards may perhaps deal with only a few large companies with well-tried training policies. The large boards have many hundreds of companies to deal with, both large and small, with all standards of training, both sophisticated and right down to the non-existent.

The board of which I am a member —the Manmade Fibres Producing Industry Training Board—is very small, with only four companies, all of which have an acceptable amount of training. Such a board can use informal procedures to obtain immediate commitment from its industry, and it can encourage the companies that it looks after to do their own training and conform to board standards. A large board, such as the excellent Engineering Industrial Training Board, has to have very formal schemes and a detailed approach to its grant and levy scheme and the implementation of training standards. Also it does much of the training for the firms themselves.

The two points I want to make are, first, that Government—any Government—should see that there is a flexible approach to training recommendations. I have detected a natural inclination for Government to expect similar recommendations for the same category of training from different boards, but I feel that industry should have considerable freedom in the recommendations to suit its own particular needs, and the only criteria should be well thought out recommendations. The second point I want to make is that boards should be careful not to build up too much in their own organisation, in carrying out their own training. In some cases this is necessary: in the type of training I have been talking about there is a danger that the training will fall by the wayside because involvement of people and motivation is something which must be done on the job, on the particular factory floor.

There is one last theme I should like to touch upon, and that is the question of shop steward training. I feel that much more could be done in industry by both management and unions jointly organising training for shop stewards on mutually agreed lines. By doing this, a better understanding of the problems of both the unions and management can be obtained, and I consider that at this time this is most important. My own training board is one of the few that gives grants for this particular subject. My Lords, I thank you for your attention.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, it gives me the greatest possible pleasure to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, on his maiden speech and to say how pleased we are in this House that we should be joined by someone able to bring such knowledge and experience to our deliberations. I hope we shall often hear him in this House on this and similar topics in the future. It is peculiarly fortunate for me that I should have this opportunity, because the first time that I addressed your Lordships' House was on this same topic, when we discussed the Industrial Training Bill six years ago and I was sitting in the very seat from which the noble Viscount, Lord Mills has addressed us to-day.

I took the opportunity of re-reading the speech that I then delivered, and I find that in it I paid a tribute to the work of Sir Arthur Fleming and of the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, who at that time was still concerned with the organisation of what was by far the most important industrial training scheme in this country. It was the pioneer upon which almost the whole of British industry then depended—not only the electrical engineering industry itself but almost all of the heavy engineering industry of the country at large. Firms like the I.C.I. always expected that their best mechanical engineers would have spent some time in Metropolitan Vickers. Therefore, my Lords, as I have said before, it is a great tragedy that this wonderful system has now almost totally collapsed.

The only bright spot on a very gloomy horizon is that when the apprentices' hostel, which was built by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, as one of the last things he did when he was still in Manchester, was disposed of by the firm, I was able to buy it and my own students are now living in it. But in my view it is deplorable that we should have to begin our discussion of one of the most important of all educational problems by reminding ourselves yet again that the bright hopes which we spoke of with such confidence only six years ago should now be dimmed, and that the work which Sir Arthur Fleming began so many years ago should not have come to fruition.

This is due to a multitude of circumstances and I must not trouble your Lordships with a detailed account of them all, but the overprovision in this country of large-scale manufacturing capacity in the heavy engineering and electrical industries has led to an inevitable rationalisation programme and to some redundancy among engineers. The firm can no longer afford to educate men on so large a scale, and the system of finance which the Government so hopefully introduced in the Training Act has not sufficed to prevent the dramatic contraction of what used to be our greatest national industrial training establishment.

My Lords, this is an unfortunate story, but it leads me to say once again that the institution in Trafford Park undertook a variety of types of training still unmatched, so far as I am aware, by any of the training boards. Fleming understood that we must educate schoolboys and we must educate graduates, and every type of person in between. I think it is fair to say that most of the training boards so far have concern rated on the education of craftsmen—very necessary, very long overdue; but so far the boards have not been so successful by any means in the education of the graduates and in the conversion of college graduates into engineers.

The problem of how to convert the man—the scholar, perhaps the recluse— who has devoted himself to studies in classroom and laboratory into a real engineer is by far the most complicated and the least understood of all the problems in the world of education. It is perfectly evident that no unique solution to this problem is possible. When one remembers, for example, that the electrification of London was begun, the first high voltage power line was built, the first large-scale power plant was designed and constructed by a young man before he was 26—of an age when, had he been alive to-day he would barely have completed his graduation—one wonders how any scheme could possibly produce more people like Sebastian de Ferranti. True enough, such men will always escape from the system and rise to the top but there is no mechanism either for producing such men or for educating the men who have to help them, and they are the men upon whom our success as an industrial nation inevitably depends.

We have spoken of our own achievements, my Lords, in this most interesting debate. But I think we have not sufficiently considered how we are to compete, as we must, with other countries to whom the problem of industrial training is familiar, and perhaps even more familiar than it is to us, and by whom the concept of the indoctrination of the apprentice engineer is much better understood and much more deeply studied.

It is worth reminding ourselves even to-day that Fleming got his ideas originally from America in the days when Metropolitan Vickers was still the British Westinghouse Company. To-day, the immense achievements of the great American firms surpass anything that we have contemplated as remotely possible. There are some parts of America where as many as one-third or one-fifth of the engineers employed in the large firms are undergoing some form of training, part-time or full-time, which takes them away from the factory where they work. The concept that a man must undergo retraining throughout the whole of his life has still not been adequately accepted here. Nor has the vexatious problem of liaison between training boards and the educational system as a whole been properly studied.

May I remind your Lordships of the tremendous and rapid rate at which expenditure on education has grown. After the war we were spending about £500 million a year on education; that is to say, about one quarter of the then defence budget. To-day education has increased until it costs more than defence —about £2,500 million a year. In spite of that, and in spite of the fact that much of the expenditure upon it is justified, and very properly justified, on the under-standing that educated men are necessary for a prosperous country in the modern world, we have still found it necessary to set up an entirely different scheme to help those educated people to earn their living; in other words, to explain to them the tasks which they will have to perform throughout the rest of their lives. And it is not surprising that there should be mutual suspicion between those who work in two halves of what is really the same system. I think that the Government could do much to help here. I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply if he will use his best efforts to explain to the Government that it is much more difficult than it need be to organise the kind of courses which the universities and industry must jointly sponsor.

I need not burden your Lordships with the apparently trivial but nevertheless fundamental administrative problems which bedevil us in all our attempts to do this, but I can assure my noble friend that many people have wasted many hours in unsuccessfully attempting to organise courses to be jointly sponsored by the University Grants Committee on the one hand and the industrial training boards on the other. Such courses are necessary if graduates are to learn something of industrial practice and practising industrial engineers are to learn something of the latest developments in modern science and technology. These courses are perhaps the most important of all the courses which the universities should be running, and they are among the most neglected; they are the most difficult to organise for administrative reasons connected with the way in which money comes from the Exchequer on the one hand and from the training boards on the other. I would ask the noble Lord if he would see whether some steps could be taken to expedite this work which, important though it is, becomes unnecessarily difficult through the mere complexity of the administrative processes which have to be gone through.

May I remind your Lordships of one trivial example of the problems we struggle with. The cost of universities is borne almost entirely by direct grant from the University Grants Committee. The fees we are allowed to charge cover only about 7 per cent. of the total cost of the courses. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education does not feel that it should pay for 93 per cent. of the cost of industrial training. A university running courses for industry is obliged to charge almost the total costs of the enterprise, which is 15 or 20 times as much as they would charge a student taking an ordinary course for a degree. The factor of 20 to 1 between the costs of apparently identical courses has been the source of immense difficulty. I wanted to ask for the help of my noble friend so I apologise for describing it in more detail than is necessary for the rest of the House.

I should like to pass on to two other points which I think are important. The first is the dramatic change which the Industrial Training Act will bring about in the whole nature of the trade union movement. The problem of demarcation disputes, for example, as between different crafts is bound to change dramatically if a man is able to change from one craft to another and perhaps become skilled in several crafts in the course of his life-time. Here are problems which will tax the wisdom of all trade unions and their leaders for many years to come. I think it is a very great tribute to their skill that so much has been done and so many changes have been made with their active co-operation. But we should delude ourselves if we thought that all the problems had been solved or failed to realise that there are many vexatious ones which will confront us in the future.

The patterns of industry and crafts and skills are changing, and this means inevitably that more and more training will have to be done, so that the nature of a man's work comes into question and the type of union to which he should belong comes into question, and one begins to doubt whether our present structure is workable any longer and if we shall not be forced, through the sheer implications of this Act, to move into the organisation of industrial unions such as those which have dominated the American scene for so long. It will be an unexpected outcome of this Act, but it could prove to be among the most important of all in the long term.

So much has been said better than I can say it by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, who has spent his life in this very important enterprise of industrial training, that I feel I should not burden your Lordships any further. I should like once more, if I may, to congratulate and thank the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, for what he said, to thank the noble Lord who introduced the debate this afternoon, and to say once again that this is a most important subject and that few people seem even yet to have realised how important it is. If I may presume to say so in your Lordships' House, we arc hoping to provide the kind of experience which the young barrister gets in chambers or the young doctor gets in a teaching hospital, for our young industrial engineers. We have to convert them into practising professional men. We must wish those who are trying to do it all possible success, for our national prosperity depends upon the way in which they discharge their task.

4.18 p.m.


My Lords, I count it a great privilege to be the first from these Benches to congratulate my noble friend Lord Mills on his outstanding maiden speech. Many of us in this House had a great admiration for his father, and many of us had a deep affection for him, too. In these circumstances it is all the more gratifying that my noble friend has come here to-day and made so distinguished a contribution to this debate. I hope that he will return on many other occasions. I should like also to express my deep gratitude to my noble friend, Lord Birdwood, for giving us the opportunity of debating so important a subject. He referred to himself as the foster-father of this Motion. He may have been alluding to the fact that I had a similar Motion on the Order Paper last Session. But I ascribe the entire paternity to him, since my Motion was abortive and I never found a day for it.

My Lords, I have for many years taken a deep interest in one aspect of this subject, that of commercial training, and it is purely on this aspect that I wish to say a few words. My interest in it arises from a long association with the chambers of commerce. I have on many occasions spoken about it in your Lordships' House, as well as, on occasion, leading delegations from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce to the Department of Employment and Productivity or, as it then was, the Ministry of Labour.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Bowden (and I think that when we were discussing the Industrial Training Bill I spoke roughly from the same spot as he did this afternoon), I have re-read the Second Reading of that occasion, and I found that I was able to welcome the fact that it referred specifically to industrial and commercial training as being the responsibility of the industrial training boards. I pointed out then, and I make no apology for repeating to-day, that commercial skills cut across conventional industrial classifications. Whereas it is obvious that the industrial skills required in, say, the engineering industry and the construction industry are totally different, yet both industries employ clerks, cashiers, machine operators, accountants and company secretaries, and others whose skills are the same in whatever industry they may be employed.

It is for that reason that, on the Second Reading of the Bill, I asked the Minister to consider the setting up of a separate commercial training board which would cover all those employed in commercial occupations throughout industry, just as in fact to-day the Hotel and Catering Board covers all these employed in canteens throughout industry. I am glad to say that I had some support for my suggestion—I think the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, was one of those who supported me—but although my noble friend Lord Blakenham accepted the point and promised to put it to the Minister, nothing came of it. So the situation came about which obtains to-day, that each individual industrial training board is responsible for all the training within its industry, commercial as well as industrial. Naturally, each board turned its attention first to the skills that distinguish the particular industry, and particularly the apprenticeship schemes appropriate to that industry. The result has been that commercial education has received very little attention.

In default of a separate commercial training board, those of us who were interested pinned our hopes on the Central Training Council as a possible coordinator in commercial training; and we were greatly encouraged when the Central Training Council appointed a commercial and clerical training committee. This committee at once got down to work, and in March, 1966, produced a first-class report on training for commerce in the office. In this report the committee made some telling points which I think are worth mentioning.

In the last four decades the number of office workers has grown from about one and a quarter million to over three million. In the period 1953 to 1963 the number increased, on average, by 3 per cent. each year, while the total labour force increased by only 0.7 per cent. Surely there can be no doubt that this trend is continuing, and will continue even with the increasing use of computers; for although it is true that these machines do much of the work formerly done by clerks, the machines themselves still require trained staff in increasing numbers to operate them. Another point is that in recent years over 40 per cent. of young persons entering industry for the first time have gone into clerical work; and in the case of girls the proportion rose to 35 per cent. In most industries the ratio of office wages and salaries to the total wage and salary bill has been rising steadily.

In such circumstances, there are strong reasons why industry should devote as much attention to the training and effective utilisation of office staff as of technical staff. Yet what do we find? Most employers give little attention to the systematic training of office staff. In the committee's survey it was found that only about 8 per cent. of office staff under the age of twenty-one were being trained at all, and only 7 per cent. were being allowed day release to attend courses of further education. I know that these are round figures and that they differ widely in different industries and different firms within industries. But they are significant figures when contrasted with what is contained in the recent Haslegrave Report on Technician Courses, where it is stated that in 1967, day or other releases for trainee technicians were estimated to be running at over 90 per cent. of the total in one or two main industries, including engineering—90 per cent. of trainee technicians getting day release, and only about 7 per cent. of those in clerical and commercial occupations.

There exists only one nationally recognised training school for clerical staff; that is the commercial apprenticeship scheme run by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. So one of the committee's recommendations was, naturally, that the chambers of commerce should organise in their areas a commercial training consultancy service, supported financially by contributions from a number of boards. The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, which has been in the forefront of this commercial apprenticeship scheme for many years past, immediately put a concrete proposal for such a consultancy service to five industrial training boards, but none of the boards felt able to provide financial support on a basis acceptable to the Chamber. This failure in a most favourable case has highlighted the great difficulty of getting industrial training boards to accord equal priority to commercial training, and it is particularly difficult now that one is dealing with some 28 or more boards.

When we compare the situation in commercial education here with that in West Germany it really is rather startling. My figures are somewhat out of date, relating to 1960, but they point the moral. In that year there were 457 industrial vocations for training in West Germany and 268,000 apprentices being trained. There were at the same time 35 commercial vocations and 512,000 apprentices being trained—just as one would expect, many fewer different types of occupation in the field of commerce as compared with those in industry; but in the case of West Germany almost double the number of apprentices in those occupations to those being trained in industry. One of the reasons is that in West Germany day release up to the age of 18 is compulsory for all young people not in full-time education.

My Lords, what can we do to improve our commercial training in this country? Can the Central Training Council stimulate some action on the part of training boards? In their Third Report, published last March, they said: The rate of expansion of training for young people in office work is generally disappointing. At another point they say: A disappointingly small number are also being given day release for further education. Yet, convinced as they are of the need for action, the Central Training Council are only advisory to the Minister and have no executive powers. I know, as the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, mentioned, that the whole role of the Council is under active consideration, but I imagine that it is most unlikely that they will in any event be more than an advisory body. And so we are driven back to the Minister and the Government. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, will find himself able to give us the Government's views on the future provision of commercial training. It seems to me that the Central Training Council, who are the advisory body to the Minister, have given him their advice that we are making disappointing progress; does the Minister accept that advice, and what is he going to do to improve matters?

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, for initiating this discussion at this very important time—and it certainly is an important time. If your Lordships will allow me I should like to make a few remarks about training in the local government world.

A little more than two years ago the local authorities set up a training board, of which they made me chairman. It is a voluntary board. I was inclined to say that it was inspired by the Industrial Training Act, but I am not sure that that is quite the right word; for in the local authority world there had been a good deal of thinking about this for some time previously, and a number of different ideas had been canvassed and seriously discussed. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the actual decision to get to work and to set up the board as a voluntary board about two years ago was strongly encouraged by the passing of the Industrial Training Act and the setting up of the boards under that Act. The support for the scheme at that time was clearly pretty good. The associations of local authorities could not have taken the action, on behalf of the authorities, of setting up the board unless opinion had gone quite a long way in favour of training; and it had done so.

When the first levy came to be set, and local authorities were asked to pay it, some 74 per cent. of the total number of local authorities became members, and 92 per cent. of the possible total levy was contributed—a very good percentage for a voluntary board. Your Lordships will see, too, that when a levy has to be fixed for a voluntary board it needs to be approved by the associations of the local authorities. As you will see in a moment, they have given very careful consideration to the needs of the board.

The board itself is, so far as it goes, quite a large board. The employees coming within its scope number nearly a million, of whom something over half a million are manual workers, but it will be seen that there is a high percentage of non-manual workers. The board covers more than 1,400 local authorities, of whom a great number are small, about half having less than a hundred employees. The number of authorities that could be called large by modern standards, or by the standards of the Maud Commission, is not very great; it is about 100 or so. However, among the different authorities there is an enormous variety in the services for which they are responsible and the enterprises they undertake; and within the services and categories of enterprises, they have almost as many different ways of attacking their problems and conducting their services as there are authorities. Obviously, therefore, one of the very big jobs of the board from the beginning was the job which has been referred to by previous speakers, the tremendous job of investigating the man-power situation and the whole business of job analysis.

I imagine that with the statutory training boards set up under the Act industries have in many cases discovered a great many things about themselves which they did not know before. Certainly the local authorities have discovered a considerable number of things of various sorts which they did not know about previously. A great deal of activity has had to be pursued by the board to secure information, not only on job analysis but on sheer numbers of people doing particular kinds of jobs, and sheer numbers of employees for particular kinds of authorities, and so on. To illustrate this, I may say that when a shot was made, with the advice of all the best authorities, with authoritative people sitting round a table, it was guessed that the board would need for its first year a levy of about £2 million to do the sort of thing it was thought that it might be able quickly to do. Within the three or four months of the first year of activity the board found that the number of applications received for grants for training already in progress would have added up to over £7 million, as opposed to the £2 million or so which was the first guess. That is not un-characteristic of the sort of guesses that were made about quite a number of statistics, but about which some hard statistics are now available.

The local authorities themselves have been very good in giving final approval to a levy. The board itself assesses the levy it requires, but since it is not a statutory board, and the Minister does not come into it, the local authorities themselves have to approve the levies. Your Lordships will see that they have lifted their sights a good deal when I mention that in the first year of operation the levy was about £2 million, and in the second year about £3½ million; and in the third year, which starts this April, it will be about £6 million. So you will see that as a voluntary board it is getting along quite nicely.

I must not mention many things, but there are one or two points that I should like to refer to because I think they have some general application and interest. Because the board is concerned with local authorities, and because of the jobs that local authorities have, there is a considerable spotlight in the early years of the board on management studies and management training; that is to say, all kinds of training for very high level man-power and the not quite so high level manpower. There are large numbers of people in these categories, and there is very great interest by the local authorities in the work of training at this level.

Your Lordships will know that the local authority world is different in its officers from the central Government Departments in that in the local authority world all the great services are conducted by, or are under the control of, chief officers who are professionally trained in the old and traditional sense of "professionally trained"; that is to say, trained as doctors, as architects, or as engineers or teachers, and so on. For fairly obvious reasons it was no part of their training to be trained in any kind of management studies, nor in any kind of administrative skills.

Many of these chief officers, of course, are responsible for a great number of other people in their departments. They have to organise great services, they have to deal with circumstances which are perhaps quite unique compared with those in other parts of the country, and they have to bring in, quite quickly, great changes in their services, as the Welfare State develops and so on. So that as organisers, as entrepreneurs, as administrators and as managers they have great duties. But their training was as doctors, architects, engineers and so on. Local authorities and the high-level officers themselves are extremely interested in this subject. The development of training courses at these high levels, notably in management studies and the various skills and techniques associated with managing, has led to their being very much over-subscribed by officers who wish to go for training and by authorities who wish them to go. So there is a pretty high light on this.

As several people have said, management studies are in a very interesting condition. We in this country have studied the successes, and the not so great successes, in the United States and other countries. The learning of the lesson, the putting together of the necessary corpus of knowledge as a basis for management training, is far from being complete and is still at a fairly early and, in almost all respects, pretty controversial stage. When it comes to applying such principles as are considered to have been established to the organisation of the services and enterprises which we have in the local government world, it is found that there is almost no experience at all on which to base that application. So an immense amount of job and manpower analysis and a good deal of experimental work are required in this field.

We are a voluntary training board. We have to please our paymasters, and we therefore have to give a great deal of attention to the matters on which they have a spotlight. The local authorities were considerably experienced over a fairly long period in training their clerical and administrative workers, or they were at least concerned with their qualifications, with examining them and with trying, through the examination system and the grading system, to encourage them to go in for more training. So in that field it is largely a question of development. But both the authorities themselves and the board have found that a great deal of development is needed.

In the manual worker field there is a tremendous amount to be done. More than half a million manual workers do not come under the Industrial Training Act. The manual workers of local authorities come under the Industrial Training Act, as your Lordships' House has decided, only if they are employed in local authority services or enterprises which are actually trading. For instance, if, like the school catering service, they are not trading, they do not come under the Catering Board. Other manual workers arc distributed among the various training boards, but there are more than half a million who are not. Many of them are in employments which hardly exist in the private sector and where there are no schemes for training, and a tremendous amount is still to be; done there. But in the case of those who are in employments where there are accepted training arrangements in the private sector and outside the local authority world, as, for example, the professional officers, the training is often particularly suitable for the local government field.

It should be asked, I suppose: as management has its voluntary authority, what will the benefits be? I think the local authorities are often disposed to put the advantages in favouring recruiting and attracting the right manpower as the main benefit which strikes them. In the case of a high proportion of their employees, unless the young and the nearly young feel in the early years of their service that they have a good career in front of them, with training possibilities and so on, the local government world will not get its fair cut of people of ability, personality, character and so on. There is no doubt, also, a good deal of scope for productivity improvement and economy, as the unions have emphasised.

Lastly, and most importantly, there is the whole question of the large number of employees who are in direct relations with the public, where much of the quality or.' the service to the public depends upon the relations between the public officials and the public. As compared with almost all other countries, we have a very good reputation in this country in regard to the relations between public officials and the public. But the world is changing terribly fast, and so is the Welfare State. A great many people who are across the counter, and who even talk to the public in the home, do not grasp the enormous complexities of the Welfare State as it exists to-day. To keep up to date with it is in itself an almost infinite job of training. The improvement, and indeed the maintenance, of the quality of the relationship between the public and the official is also almost an infinite job.

Will the voluntary board be able to fulfil the task? It has been very progressive and has looked at the requirements, and it has "upped" its levies very well. But many people, and many of the trade unions, do not feel too sure that enough money will be forthcoming. Local authorities are very much aware that they are dealing with public money and that they have teen elected by the public as custodians for the proper and economic use of that money. There are people who feel that it may be difficult to get a large enough levy for a voluntary board. That remains to be seen, but, as I have said, the levy has so far risen pretty steeply. However, there is certainly a tremendous lot still to be done; and also 100 per cent. still needs to be done in relation to the manual workers.

4.48 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by joining other noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Birdwood for introducing this very important debate, and for presenting the subject so cogently and succinctly. I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Mills on his very excellent maiden speech.

I want to divide what I have to say this afternoon into two quite different parts. First, I propose to glance at the historical background of training, which nobody has touched on so far and which I feel is very relevant to our training to-day, and relate it to the prosperity from which the country has undoubtedly benefited. Secondly, I should like to speak of my own experience as a part-time company training officer in the building industry, in the sense that a proportion of my salary is met by the Construction Industry Training Board. Therefore, in that sense I suppose that I should declare an interest.

On the historical side, I am sure that all your Lordships have read in many training publications that the Statute of Artificers was passed in the fifth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1563. That was largely repealed in 1814 and from that date until 1964 there was no legislation in industrial training. The Statute of Artificers has always intrigued me, and I should like to thank the House of Lords Librarian and his staff for helping my research into the old records. The need for this law arose because of the insufficiency of existing laws for the hiring and wages of servants, artificers and apprentices. It also laid down that a person wishing to take employment in any of the sciences, crafts and mysteries or arts of clothiers, woollen cloth weavers, tuckers, fullers, clothworkers, shearmen, dyers, hosiers, tailors, shoemakers, tanners, pewterers, et cetera—the list goes on in a way that puts our own efforts at job classification almost to shame—had to serve a seven-year apprenticeship.

This law insisted on a year's period of engagement legally binding on both parties; and the penal clauses laying down the hours of work were quite stiff. The hours were from 5 o'clock in the morning to between 7 and 8 o'clock in the evening, with breaks of an hour for dinner and half an hour for both breakfast and drinking; and between the months of May and August you were allowed half an hour for sleeping. The rates of pay were ascertained yearly by justices in Session, and certified in Chancery to be approved by the Privy Council and to be proclaimed by the sheriffs. Another point about this law—I hope your Lordships do not think this is largely irrelevant—is that at harvest-time artificers were compelled to work, and if they refused to do so they were put in the stocks for two and a half days. But looking on the rosy side of this (as it might seem) horrible law, it undoubtedly had a great effect on our country's prosperity, and largely contributed to the fact that we were the most progressive nation in the world.

Unfortunately, this law was never amended or brought into line with contemporary situations, except that there was a brief reference to it in 1592, when English handicraftsmen complained that they were unable to find work in shops in London. Therefore, a nice little law was brought in to the effect that foreign labour which came to this country was compelled to serve a seven-year apprenticeship. Then we go from 1592 until 1813, when Mr. George Rose, the honourable Member for Christchurch, presented a petition of between 6,000 and 7,000 people to Mr. Sergeant Onslow, the Member for Guildford, who was subsequently responsible for the repeal of this law. The reason for the petition was because a great deal of unemployment was caused by the law that in order to work in certain industries you had to serve a seven-year apprenticeship. Women were also referred to, which seems extraordinary bearing in mind that this was 1814, which was very much an age of male supremacy—more so than now, noble Baronesses would perhaps think. Women were not allowed to work in many jobs; and this law was very unfair to them because they could not take an apprenticeship.

But, equally, there was a very strong counter-petition by Mr. Lockhart, who was the Member for the City of Oxford. That petition was signed by 7,000 people, consisting of masters, journeymen, carpenters and joiners; and it was against the repeal of this Act. Thus, this Bill was brought before the House of Commons on April 27, 1814, for First Reading, and it had passed through both Houses by July. It had an extremely stormy passage through the Commons; and there were various Amendments moved and accepted in your Lordships' House. Unfortunately, there is no record of any of the debates. The removal of this law was probably a very good thing in many ways, and luckily there was nothing to replace it, but soon afterwards, though not immediately, the standard of industry in this country went into decline—and if one reads about the 1870s one knows that there were shoddy goods and other things appearing. If there had been some alternative form of training, we should not have quite such a rigorous system as we have to-day.

I should like to switch from this historical background straight on to the Construction Industry Training Board. This Board was formed four and a half years ago, and at the moment it is under extremely heavy fire from its own industry. As my noble friend called them, it is one of those sinister relations. One hopes that it will not be so for long, and one does not want to denigrate it at all, because in many ways it has done an excellent job. I should like to list some of its activities and some of its achievements. To start with, it had a very great problem because the industry was very much fragmented, so in order to circumvent that it formed five committees—building, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and builders' merchants. My Lords, 96 per cent. of all building employees are employed by firms not employing more than 30 people. We read that there are certain mergers, and the building industry or the construction industry is following the natural trend of takeovers, but it is still very largely made up of small firms, and I know that the Construction Industry Training Board has done a great deal towards their training. They have even made the very small firms exempt from levy.

Like other training boards which have established regions and areas, they have training advisers to cover the whole country, and I see that they are equal to the Engineering Training Board, which seems everybody's best child this after-noon. That is probably quite rightly so; but I should like to say that the Construction Industry Training Board has also established 200 group training schemes. A civil engineering college was set up at Bircham Newton in Norfolk, and to date it has no less than 4000 men on courses. There had never been a training establishment for civil engineering craftsmen. In conjunction, there has been a new scheme, jointly with the Institution of Civil Engineering, for technicians, and great expectations are held for that. The board also feels that it has gone further than any other to promote effective metrication training. Another notable success (which I will deal with very shortly because the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, referred to the same thing in the engineering industry) is a new plan of training for operative skills, together with the National Joint Council. The primary objective of the proposals is to offer a plan of training that will overcome weaknesses already disclosed and provide a foundation for forward flexible development to match the progress of the construction industry's technology and practices.

Supplementary objectives include the improvement of the image of the industry by showing the public that it offers suitable entrants a permanent and progressive future. The scheme covers all operatives entering into the industry, and provides training for two distinct types: first, operatives who require a stock of skills and who draw upon this stock of skills to do a complex variety of jobs; and. secondly, operatives who must be trained in depth in one skill or in aspects of one skill. The broad concept of this training has three aspects. First, there is the induction and basic and operational training; secondly, the interrelation of instruction, supervised practice and related planned experience; and, finally, the development in specific sectors to meet the needs of industry, the firm and the man. By 1971 700 young men will have been trained in this way, which is much more full and effective than the outdated apprenticeship scheme. A man will be much more effectively trained in more skills in two years on block release than in an apprenticeship with just the day release.

The noble Lord, Lord Bowden, I think, mentioned that the Construction Industry Training Board had not been commercially minded, but I should like to say here that the Board instituted a management development grant scheme, which unfortunately has had disappointing results. However, it is going to persevere with this, and gird its actions around the present nucleus which has been achieved. All in all, I should like to say that the C.I.T.B. has done a. very good job, and it is unfortunate that we should see this bitter wrangle now going on over the increased levy. As in every situation, there is a case on both sides. Just to give a perfectly unbiased view of the situation, I should like to put forward the view of the National Federation of Building Trades Employers.

The Federation first welcomed the formation of the Construction Industry Training Board, but feels now that the Board has lost face with the industry, or, rather, has lost the confidence of many of the firms in the industry. Because of this the Federation advocates an independent investigation and, it says, is glad to know that this in fact is to be carried out". The Federation, believes that once the present financial difficulties are overcome the C.I.T.B. and the industry should be able to produce a levy/ grant scheme which supports good training and is acceptable to the industry. Such a scheme may well distinguish between the basic training given to new entrants such as apprentices and trainees and the training subsequently given to those selected for promotion to supervisory and management positions. In the first case the firms which recruit and train may be considered as training for the industry and therefore entitled to expect a reasonable contribution by way of grant aid towards the costs involved. In the second case firms are training for their own requirement and should not, therefore, expect to be grant-aided to the same extent. It should be the value of the training provided and the courses attended in the development of a particular individual that is all important. There must be no suspicion that training is being provided or courses attended because of the financial return involved rather than for their training value, or that the way in which grant aid is provided encourages those who offer courses to charge excessive fees. This may or may not happen.

My Lords, in winding-up there are just one or two comments that I should like to make. I also met the Institution of Civil Engineers who told a rather different story. They were very happy at the way things are going with the Construction Industry Training Board, though I may mention that they were surprised that consulting engineers, of whom there are 250 member firms, are not liable for grant or levy. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, will comment on that point, which offers a sort of loophole for training poaching. I was happy to hear my noble friend say that the charge of extravagance of which the training boards have been accused is not as justified as it may appear. I know that this is one of the criticisms that have been made of the C.I.T.B.'s offices. The Board has large offices, and they are bursting at the seams. The Board is in fact training. Its offices are at Norbury, which is one of the less expensive parts of London. One feels that the Board is aware of this situation and is not extragavant.

There is one last point that I should like to make on the retraining of staff and the trade unions. I am a trade unionist. But I was somewhat amazed to see, in the case of my own company in the North-East, that when we wanted to employ ex-coal miners in our craft, and to train them accordingly, the unions were not agreeable because they have had some of their own craftsmen un-employed. This seems to be a rather unfortunate situation. Surely there should be some tidying up on both sides in that regard. I thank the House for its indulgence, and I conclude by saying that, in my view, training has a very useful place in our society and country for many years to come.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, this Act—the Industrial Training Act—was needed originally because the level of competence in industry simply was not high enough. I think that this is probably axiomatic. It is perhaps as well to remember where we began. As a director of a small company, as an industrialist, I find it regrettable that we have to admit that at least some part of British industry had to be coerced into something that they ought to have known was good for them. The possibilities inherent in this Act are really quite formidable. We have been told that a 5 per cent. increase in productivity would completely solve our balance-of-payments problems. Those who have any experience of working in this field know that the orders of potential achievement are more like 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. if the full possibilities that result from training and re-training are enjoyed.

I do not claim to be as much a specialist as many noble Lords who have spoken; I look at the Act in a general way to see what it has done for us and what it might be doing for us in the future. I fear that many of the points that I shall make have already been made. I can only hope to reemphasise some of those points which seem important. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, has already pointed out the immense difficulties facing anybody trying to indulge in manpower forecasting. The rapidly changing technology with which we shall be faced in the next few years means that almost any forecast is outdated before it is made, particularly if it is made from the standpoint of traditional skills. I read recently—I think in the Financial Times—that a survey is being made, I believe by Essex University, for the Engineering Training Board on the effect of technical change. They were hoping to report in two years' time. The best of luck to them! I hope that they do so. They have a formidable task ahead.

The second aim of the Act was to secure an improvement in the quality and efficiency of training. Several noble Lords have emphasised the danger of becoming mesmerised by this aspect of training and of allowing training to become an end in itself. We run the risk of institutionalising the training boards so that we cannot get rid of them; and, with great respect to them, I think that a great many of the boards' functions, the levy/grant functions, are functions which we hope may, like Marx's State, in due time wither away. But, unlike the Marxian forecast, I hope that as regards the functions of the boards as we know them to-day this will happen in the next five or ten years.

For me there is a distinction that needs to be made between education, which is the general background, and training, which I regard as the application of techniques. It is because the techniques and circumstances differ from industry to industry and from plant to plant that I feel that each programme must be designed for the specific place and purpose in which and for which it is to be applied. I take issue a little with the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, when he talked about on-the-job training, though I do not believe that we differ fundamentally. He suggested that on-the-job training originally got a bad name because it tended to be lumbered with the old idea of apprenticeship, of taking a young man and saying, "Watch that chap alongside you, and you will pick up the job in five years if all goes well." Undoubtedly this was true in the past. But it is no longer true to-day. If that attitude gives on-the-job training a bad name, then the sooner we forget that that is what was meant by on-the-job training, the better. The kind of on-the-job training that I refer to is a properly organised, structured and analysed training programme, 2nd it is my belief that these are much the most important aspects of the industrial training scene. And in my view such courses do not play an important enough part. I think this was a point that came out in the Mount Report in connection with the training of the Civil Service.

There is a particular reason why I think that on-the-job training is important, because it must be recognised as an essential part of management responsibility. It is really a soft option to say "We must do some training. Let us look up the industrial training courses and send someone on one of them. We must do something—and, anyway, we are getting paid for it by the industrial training board". This is an abdication on the part of management of responsibility. I suppose that to some extent the case study system recognises the need to try to make training real. But nothing replaces the true reality of training on the job, applying general principles to the particular difficulties with which any man is surrounded at whatever level he is working.

Managers exist because they have greater responsibilities than they have time to discharge those responsibilities. This means that we have to set up complex organisations; and this, in turn, means that if they are going to discharge their executive function, managers have to do two things. First, they have to agree with the man what is his job and what is expected of him. Secondly— and this, I feel, is particularly relevant for training purposes—it is the responsibility of the manager to lead and supervise his subordinate in doing the job; and no outside training facilities can allow him to abdicate that responsibility.

At national and industrial levels, industrial training and the planning of it present a particular problem when you come to look at initial training. The reason for this is the time scale. My Lords, it is a rather frightening thought that apprentices being trained to-day will still have a few years to go in the year 2010. If we get the training programme wrong we shall all the time be creating for ourselves a re-training programme for the not-so-distant future. I think that this point was very much in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, when he referred to the question of analysing manpower resources. It is always very much easier to say something like this than to think of a specific example. The other day somebody said to me, "If only round about 1910 the shipping industry had looked at what was happening in the motor industry at that time—when craftsmanship was gradually being replaced by specialisation, prefabrication and mass production —it could probably have seen the kind of situation with which it was going to be faced 50 years later; and it might have been able at that point to say, 'This is the pattern that industry will be facing in 50 years' time'. At that point it could have trained people to be ready to serve in that way." Believe me, my Lords, this is in no sense a criticism of the shipping industry; and it is not meant to be.

If we go back to initial training I think it is significant to observe that during the time the Act has been in force the period of apprenticeship in the engineering industry has come down from four years to three years. It has occurred to me that apprentice training is going to be subjected to something which is known as the process of squeeze. Too many of us have been subjected to that for rather too long. On the one hand, we have an additional year at school up to the age of sixteen; on the other hand, we are now saying that the age of responsibility is eighteen. It may well be that the last year at school will fill part of the educational area covered by the apprenticeship scheme. I, frankly, do not know; but I sincerely hope that something on these lines will develop. For it seems to me that the experience gathered by the training boards will be extraordinarily relevant to the educationists—and this is a point which has been raised this afternoon.

We want to ensure that there is some feed-back arrangement from the experience of the training boards to the education authorities. I am not clear what channels of communication there are for this purpose. I do not know whether it is the task of the Central Training Council—maybe it is. If it is, we may be in a difficulty, because I believe that that body has no established secretariat. The feedback of the experience of the industrial training boards into the education authorities is something from which we should be failing to benefit if we do not construct a mechanism to make sure that it works properly.

All those who have experienced training at industrial level invariably find that when you start training at the shop floor level, inexorably you are led back up the ladder, through lower management to upper management, and eventually to top management. The important point is to get a climate of opinion at that level which accepts and embraces training as something which is of value to them. I believe that this in itself is something that has been achieved by the Industrial Training Act. I do not intend to mention the subject of management training, which has been discussed on a number of occasions and again this afternoon, except to say that I recognise that, as you climb up the scale, what I have been saying about the necessity for on-the-job training is to some extent vitiated, in so far as problems at the higher levels of management are more universal and less specific to the individual industry. At that level, my Lords, I do not mind resorting to courses; but I believe that at the lower level, on the whole, courses evade the issue.

A very encouraging angle being mentioned by one board is the consciousness of the need to use cost effectiveness techniques to measure what they do. I said earlier that I believed training paid for itself; was worth while, and was a very good investment from a company's point of view. This point has to be got over, particularly to the smaller and perhaps less enlightened companies. In any case it is going to be essential as a self-discipline on the boards, if they are not to run off on all kinds of irrelevancies.

This leads me on to the third object of the Industrial Training Act, which was to share the cost more evenly between firms. I think that probably this was a polite way of saying, "Make the small firms pay up for poaching labour trained by the big ones. "In a sense it has worked almost too well. But the fact is that there are a number of small companies who have expressed unhappiness. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, can confirm this particularly for the construction industry, but if he can he is certainly not alone. I am afraid that, unfortunately, a great many small firms regard this simply as an extra burden laid on them at a time when every man's hand seems to be turned against them. This is a serious matter, my Lords. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said that 96 per cent. of the firms in the construction industry employs fewer than 30 people. In the rubber and plastics industry under which we come, 80 per cent. of the companies employs fewer than 250 people.

It would be a great shame if a whole area of industry like this was alienated by these boards. This has certainly been recognised by the boards. One board includes among its objectives: Establish an effective form of assessing the economics of the training board's services towards smaller units and against their particular points of need. What I am saying is not, of course, in any way new to the training boards which are well aware of the difficulty. I would merely suggest that a great deal of this difficulty is overcome once you get back again to the concept of on-the-job training.

The boards will have to be exceedingly flexible in their approach to the application of training to small companies. The small companies by definition find it more difficult to release key workers to a training course outside the industry. I think it might possibly be true that we need a slightly different set of criteria to judge eligibility for levy in the case of small companies having, say, fewer than 30 workers and, again, a different set of criteria for those employing fewer than 250 Over that number, we get into what I might call the medium-sized company, where a more general rule would cover the situation adequately. Therefore, combined with a concentration on job training, I would ask the boards as a generality to keep an extremely flexible approach to the needs of small companies.

I heard recently of an example of a small company in the West Country, a development engineering concern, which prides itself on its forward-looking approach to training. They are thoroughly disillusioned because they are paying £1,200 a year, and when they get teachers from local technical schools to come to do training on the job in the company time, they have been refused a grant. This is not a case I want taken up; it is merely an example of an attitude which exists.

If we look ahead a little farther, I think we can say that the success of a board can be judged by its ability to work itself out of the levy. We do not want to institutionalise training boards as purveyors of training. The training board intention I have mentioned describes the catalytic effect that they hope to achieve by suggesting ideas and creating climates of opinion. They believe that in the end this is their proper function. On more than one occasion already we have dealt with the fact that boards cannot be accused even now of being profligate in their administrative expenses, but they are under criticism from the smaller companies.

The levy grant arrangement is inherently a cumbersome one. One cannot help thinking of the analogy of the selective employment tax, which some of us feel is at best merely an interest-free loan to the Government and sometimes simply an extra tax on our enterprise. One would hope that we might get to a stage whereby a special levy was placed on those companies who do not do enough training rather than taking money away with one hand and giving it back with the other. Even better would be some kind of carrot whereby in the first year a company was allowed to keep tax-free the benefit it had obtained from the increase in productivity. This, I am sure we will be told, is merely a pipe dream and bureaucractically impossible and open to all sorts of abuse. Nevertheless, it remains a nice idea, which is possibly worth considering.

Finally, I should like to look ahead and see the kind of situation into which I would hope the boards will work themselves over the next few years. Basically, I want to see them as a service valued by their industries for their advisory and attitude forming capacities. I want to see them imparting a sense of involvement at the junior management and worker levels throughout these industries. I should like to see them the leading innovators in the field of training, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Bird-wood. I would hope that they could help us to eliminate wastefulness, by making us more aware of the possibilities of technical change. I should like to see them devoting their time to identifying the training implications of economic and technical forecasts.

The impact on the work and pay structure for industry has already been dealt with in relation to the changes that are already being wrought in the trade union movement. On a more general level, they would have to assess the needs of the community and feed the results back into the attitude-forming organisations. Finally, there is the matter of the feedback of training needs into the educational establishments. I think that the training boards are going to be busy. If they achieve any of those aims, they will have done very well indeed.

5.26 p.m.


My Lords, six years ago your Lordships were debating the Bill that was to become the Industrial Training Act. It was introduced as a Bill of great importance, intended to be revolutionary in effect. I regret to say that in one particular aspect I cannot yet see any signs of a revolution. Indeed, perhaps the most revolutionary part has come in the exciting and interesting opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, this afternoon, in which he spanned the work of industrial training and posed what I thought was the exciting prospect of industrial manpower boards. However, I find myself at some variance with him when he speaks of a dialogue of trust between industries and the various boards. I regret to say that on this I do not find myself in agreement with him at all. There has been so much difference of opinion between many industries and the boards that regrettably it has aroused undue publicity, to the detriment both of industry and of the work of the boards. I propose to return to this topic a little later.

Partly because of the contributions made by other noble Lords before me, I propose to devote a little time to the work of only one board, the Road Transport Industry Training Board. During the Second Reading of the Bill, the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, expressed some anxiety about the top-heaviness of the administrative system of the training boards. The anxiety he expressed at that time was well founded, and in this particular board, at any rate, has been well proved. To take the figures from their last report, their third report, which admittedly is now nearly twelve months old, the Road Transport Industry Training Board state that their recruitment of staff at 642 persons was almost complete. Of that number, 417 were engaged in training duties (what I am proposing to call productive duties) and 225 were engaged in administrative duties. Unless my arithmetic is sadly wrong that produces a ratio of one administrative person to 1.8 productive persons. I do not think that such a ratio reflects the kind of efficiency in manpower that is surely at the heart of industrial training. In monetary terms, the productive workers are costing the industry during the year under review some £3,000 a head, and are serviced by a further £900. I think that companies or individuals criticising the board for extravagance may well have a point.

However, the critics have also complained of the board's extravagance in setting up their own training establishment. If a board is to carry out specific training programmes, obviously it must have a centre in which to do it; and I believe that in certain areas a training board must conduct its own programmes. In the case of this board, a Multi-Occupational Training and Education centre has been set up in Shropshire, the cost of which has been variously quoted. Whatever the cost of the establishment at its setting up, from my own experience when I went there I could not see much evidence of extravagance, and from my knowledge of some of the training staff there, people whom I have known previously in the industry, I would say that they were not of a mind to be extravagant in the methods they were going to employ in training. More probable is that as these facilities become better used the original cost will become more widely dispersed and will not prove to be such an important factor.

In 1964 we were bemoaning the fact that we had a great shortage of skilled labour. This fact has never escaped the attention of at least the motor vehicle distribution and repairing industry, which sector of industry is the biggest contributor to the Road Transport Industry Training Board. Indeed, since the inception of the National Joint Industrial Council for the industry in 1943—a council which includes in its membership employers and employees—the motor trade has progressively trained more and more people. For example, in 1960 there were approximately 2,000 new entrants to the industry, and in 1968 there were over 4,000. Currently that sector of the transport industry has round about 12,000 people under training, and it is interesting to note that those who offer themselves as candidates for the national craftsman's certificate, a qualification widely held in high regard, have achieved a pass rate of somewhere around 90 per cent.

It is equally true that the shortage of skilled labour in this industry will continue and will be aggravated by the further growth and development of road transport. This situation, again, has not escaped the notice of the industry, because, through the offices of the Motor Industry Education Consultative Committee, the position has been reviewed and reported upon, and various actions have been suggested. I feel that the work of the training board currently is only extending in a compulsory manner, by virtue of the levy, the work which the whole of industry has been developing on a voluntary basis and with trade union goodwill since 1943.

Where perhaps the board has proved to be most effective is in the statistical and investigating work which has pinpointed particular areas of need. Thus, through the board's support of group training schemes, of which I believe there are now 25 up and down the country, they have brought training to companies which hitherto had completely disregarded the need. In particular areas of need the board has set up training programmes and it is quite remarkable how successful they have been. I should like to give two examples. One is in the field of auto-electrics, where they have had remarkable success with some of the latest electrical developments; and the other is the training, albeit on a voluntary basis at the moment, of heavy goods vehicle drivers. In this connection the board has received a 92 per cent. test pass rate, while other avenues of training have produced considerably lower results.

The board has also been zealous in its output of training recommendations. In its report the board states that these have been well received. I would question by whom they have been well received. The recommendations that I have seen do not appear to be at great variance with the practices that have been followed for some years. Possibly the reception of these recommendations is conditioned by the fact that if training programmes do not follow the recommendations it is likely that such training will not rank for grant. This may be an unfair and somewhat unkind statement to make, though I believe there is an element of truth in it. If this be so, I suppose one may argue that it does not matter how you achieve training, and it is better that it should be carried out in this manner than not at all.

Nevertheless, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, has just said, until such time as management can be completely convinced of the value of training at all levels I do not think we are likely to see much benefit from this aspect of the Act. I stress the words "at all levels", because I have found in my experience that many companies are relucant to let middle and upper management have leave of absence to attend training courses, seminars and the like, while they are quite prepared for productivity workers to go on crash courses —manufacturers' courses and others— which will show a profitable return upon their completion.

In looking at the Road Transport Industry Training Hoard one is tempted to pursue a discussion on the grant levy system. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said that he looked forward to a refinement of this method of supporting training in an industry. I think it would be unfair of me to pursue that point too far, because not only the industries concerned but the boards also are still having to feel their way. I hope that Lord Birdwood's suggestion and hope become a realisation before many years have passed. I should, however, like to make two points so far as the levy part is concerned.

First, the system is a variable, open-ended levy which is not practicable for smaller companies to absorb into a budgetary control system. Most companies surely have some kind of idea of manpower recruitment requirements and planning, and unless they can see what the likely cost is going to be I do not see how they can properly plan a new entry programme. It would be preferable that a levy be set for, say, three years—or even as far ahead as five years. This would enable the companies to do recruitment planning. At the same time it would enable the boards to plan their expenditure to greater effect: because, surely, if the levy can be altered from year to year, one has a feeling that it will be altered in almost direct proportion to the expenditure. This is a form of taxation with which we are all too familiar and find somewhat abhorrent.

Secondly on the question of levy, I cannot see the fairness of adding to the levy assessment those costs attributable to part-time labour. In many sectors of the transport industry—for example in driving schools, trucking and petrol stations—a considerable amount of part-time labour is employed, and it is employed purely and simply because it does that part of work which regular employees do not find acceptable. In the driving school area it is those part-time workers who look after the late-night and very early-morning courses of instruction; and in the petrol station business it is the part-time labour that keeps stations open at eleven, twelve, one and two o'clock in the morning. They are highly paid because of the inconvenience; and from my own experience in these two fields I do not know one part-time employee who is not normally engaged in a totally different occupation. These people are quite untrainable. There is certainly a job-familiarisation course which they can go on to, and I suppose that this might take all of two or three hours. So the smaller firms, the driving schools, which —barring the two large national companies—employ few people, the petrol stations and people of that kind, are rather heavily burdened because they offer a service and very many of them would be quite happy not to do that.

So much, my Lords, for some aspects and results of the work of this board. I should like to return now, if I may, to the point I made at the opening of my remarks. That is the fundamental difference between sectors of the transport industry and its own training board. I believe—although I have no particular knowledge—that this fundamental may well be behind some of the differences in other industries and their relations with their boards. The constitution of the board was laid down in the Act by the Minister as comprising a chairman and seven educational members, appointed by the Minister, and ten each of employers and employees, appointed after due consultation with the various representative bodies. At the end of the three-year period the Minister found it desirable to alter the composition of the board by a reduction of one each of the employer and employee representatives. We now have a board of 26 members, comprising the chairman, seven educationists, nine employers and nine employees.

To make this point—and I promise your Lordships that it is the last that I wish to make this evening—more effective I regret that I shall have to give just one series of figures. If you will forgive me, my Lords, I will read them, because I do not want to make a mistake here. Within the jurisdiction of the Transport Industry Training Board there are some 844,990 persons. Broadly, these can be divided into five sectors. The sector of passenger transport accounts for 263,697 persons; that is to say, 31.2 per cent. of the whole: the road haulage industry for 215,618, or 25.4 per cent.; the motor vehicle distribution and repair sector, 342,791, or 40.5 per cent.; removals, warehousing and cold storage, 19,380, or 2.1 per cent.; and driving schools, 3,500, or 0.8 per cent.

If we look at the makeup of the Board we find that in the case of the largest sector—that is, the motor trade industry looking after some 40.5 per cent. of the total number of employees and, by analogy, 40.5 per cent. of the Board's income—that industry has only an 11.6 per cent. vote in the disposition of the Board's finances. Similarly, of course, other sectors have a smaller degree of representation: the 11.6 per cent. is represented by only three members. Even if this sector of the Board were in agreement with all others—and it seldom is —the levy payers would be represented by only about a third of the whole Board. The entire cost of the Board's operation is found from the employers by way of the levy. It is not found from the educationists, nor from the employees in any way at all: yet the employers' representation is the smallest.

I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Champion, who discussed this aspect at the time of the Second Reading of the Bill, and he referred to it as taxation without representation. I think it is this fundamental which is perhaps behind all the difficulties that at any rate this particular Board may have with its constituent members. The need for education members and union members, is not denied: indeed, it is welcomed. The contribution they make is tremendously significant. But surely it is quite wrong to allow them to vote on matters affecting the levy and grant; to determine, in fact, the operational programme and the cost of the Board without footing the bill in one way or another. I know that members of the industry feel tremendously strongly about this, and I will take this opportunity to urge the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, to ask his right honourable friend the Minister of Employment and Productivity to amend the Act: to amend it in such a way that the levy payers' representation is more reasonable. They would then be able to accept willingly a greater share of the responsibility of the Board. I am quite sure that, if this were so, it would in turn add more purpose and strength to the Act and the fulfilment of its aims.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, I must begin by declaring an interest. I have the great privilege of serving the Distributive Industry Training Board as its chief executive. As I am particularly connected with that Board, I thought it would interest your Lordships most if I concentrated the bulk of what I had to say on it. I hope that the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not directly follow him, although one or two of the points he made I think will come up in what I have to say.

In general terms, as a practical person trying to serve a board operating this Act, I would commend it to your Lordships—for all the criticisms that come about, and there are not many—as being one of the most imaginative Acts that Parliament has passed in the last decade. It is imaginative not only in what it says but in what it does not say. It is imaginative in that it gives tremendous freedom in one respect to boards to develop techniques in their section of trade in the best way to suit that section. It is imaginative in having boards for particular sections of industry and commerce where, in broad terms (and one cannot be precise about these things), the training needs are roughly similar. It is imaginative also in that it covers sections of trade and is not—here I would take issue with my noble friend Lord Bird-wood—geographical, which my noble friend flew a kite about, if one might call it that. So much of industry and commerce, certainly so far as it concerns my own Board, is national in its distribution of its activities that there would really be a great restriction on how the board's activities would operate if they were reduced to a geographical base.

It is also imaginative—though here perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, would not necessarily agree—in its process of using levy and grant. It is imaginative— and boards, I am sure, are as delicate in this operation as they possibly can be —in hitting people, who have not understood about training, in their pockets, which they do understand. This is perhaps a difficult thing to justify with the type of composition of the board which we have just been hearing about. But, on the other hand, one will find that no board has a levy of more than 2½ per cent. Our Board has a levy of ½ per cent. on the annual payroll, and this is, relatively speaking, a small amount of money—I repeat, relatively speaking. It is not going to be possible to vary it very much between those two extremes for any except the very smallest boards. And, as there is not much room for variation, I would have suggested—and here perhaps the Minister will forgive me if I am answering what he was called upon to answer—that it is not a thing to get fussed about, as to precisely who is going to do this, provided that they are representative of the trades.

All the boards have representation on an equal basis from employers and employees, and it is reasonable that this should be so because it is only one of their functions to raise the levy. Other functions are to provide training advice and to encourage training. It is also reasonable that they should have a lesser number, but a number, of educational representatives. As it comes to the point of deciding on the precise issues of how the money is disposed—and I am sure that this applies to every other board—I can assure your Lordships that my Board is extremely careful, regardless of what section it comes from, that we do not spend a single penny more than we have to. Up to now life has been comparatively easy because we are growing (we are only 15 months old), and the "crunch" point of expenditure is about to hit us. But I have no illusions here, and I am sure, through having talked to my fellow chief executives of training boards, that this question of limiting financial expenditure in whatever area it is to be expended is a matter which concerns every board most deeply.

May I turn from the general features of the Act—and I have not covered them all because the debate has made clear the points on which perhaps one should make a statement—to deal with my own Board. As your Lordships will gather, I am very impressed by the fact that the boards are part of, and responsive to, their own sections of the trade, to give it its wide term. This has meant that they are of greatly varied sizes. My noble friend Lord Mills, for example, deals with one of the very smallest boards of all, and I, in some respects, deal with the very biggest of all. The other boards which have been mentioned fall somewhere in between, but road transport and construction are among the bigger ones. So a certain amount of the problems we have, though they will be different, will be somewhat similar. But I could not possibly suggest to your Lordships that what I am about to say has any bearing on what might be called a very small board, at any rate in so far as detail goes.

I would make one point, and that is in relation to the Local Government Board, which the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Grasmere, was speaking about. He said how important it was, being a voluntary Board, that one got the chaps with one. I can assure your Lordships that this is just as important with a statutory board which has to pay the levy. It is absolutely vital to get your firms, your industry, your trade, with you. All boards in their varying ways attempt to do this, but it is not easy, as your Lordships will see.

To turn to my Board, we have, we are told, some 500,000 establishments, in which 2¼ million people are employed, and which probably represent something of the order of about 400,000 different firms. There is an average of, say, five employees per firm. We do not know whether this is so because the Government have not been able to give us very much information. They have a little more of their own, but they cannot give us that because in many cases it is privileged—such as, for instance, the Inland Revenue figures and a lot of the census figures. But even if they could give us the census figures they would be ten years out of date, and we are told there is a 10 to 15 per cent. turnover of businesses within our trades. So we have to find this for ourselves, and all boards have to do this.

I suppose that to-day, after sixteen months, we are roughly halfway through our register-building process. One has to write to all these potentially 400,000 different firms in order to find out if they are there and how big they are. All too frequently they put the letter in the wastepaper basket the first time round, either because they treat it as a circular or because they do not want to be interfered with anyhow. In our trades there is a great feeling of not wanting to be interfered with; and this being so it is doubly important, coming back to the question of getting their confidence, that we are seen to be an independent board serving them and not another arm of government. I am not being unpleasant to the present Government—I am referring to Governments in general. "Whitehall" is not a greatly favoured word among many of our customers. So this is one thing, to build the register; and it is a vast task.

So in our first year we have decided to impose a levy of one half of 1 per cent. of the annual payroll. It was mentioned earlier that it is unfair to include part-timers. We do not believe this; we think that the payroll is in fact a very good, broad proportionate measurement of the trainable capacity of a company because it gives the right proportion to managers who are paid more, and the right balance of part-timers who require some training, albeit minimal. Some training is required for everybody, and it would be a bold one of us, my Lords, who would say that he had nothing to learn. Likewise, we cannot say this for anybody else.

So the payroll is the basis of the levy and we charge one half of 1 per cent. in a year and we exclude, on an optional basis, anybody with a payroll of less than £5,000. I mention these facts and figures to your Lordships to give you an idea of the balance. As I say, we are only half way in our total buildup of the register, so even these figures are not 100 per cent. correct. The result of this is that above the £5,000 option point we have some 72,000 establishments run by 15,000 firms and employing one and a quarter million people. If the facts which we were given to start with and which were basically based on the last Census are right, it means that only 72,000 establishments out of our 500,000 come above the £5,000 payroll, which means above the point at which more than about six people are employed in a small distributive firm. Therefore, in our first exercise we have covered rather more than half the employees for whom we are responsible, and we have slightly less than half—perhaps another million —whom in due course we must encourage to be trained.

I will not take your Lordships any further than that, except to say that if the figures I have quoted are right, it means that the further million people are employed in between 300,000 and 400,000 firms or shops, and it means an average employment of less than three—not less than 30, as was mentioned earlier, or even less than 130. These are people for whom it is extremely difficult, in a short time, to provide the resources for them to get the necessary training. The solution, of course, is group training schemes, which were mentioned earlier, and various other activities.

Here there is one point which was touched on by my noble friend Lord Birdwood, and he told your Lordships that I would mention it. The Act as it is at present framed talks about "employees" and thus excludes anybody who is in law an employer—that is, a self-employed person, or a person who owns his own business or is in a partnership. This has been established, I think in this House, but certainly in law, as being a fact. We have great hopes that the Government will amend the Act to put this right, because in our 400,000 small shops, employing a million people (if the figures are right), it is the boss who can most benefit from training at the start; and if he cannot be levied he cannot be trained.

From our point of view, therefore, it is vital for the Act to be amended to include these people, in time for us to be ready for the great expansion movement to include these people within our levy-paying basis. It will take us, I would say, two or three years before we can be sure that we want to include all these people, and there may be other ways of doing it. In the meantime, there are various people who fall into this category whom we should very much like to grant-aid, but whom at present we cannot help. This is where it is said that it is not so much that one cannot compel the people to accept help when they do not want it, but rather that one cannot help the people who want to be helped.

My Lords, I will not keep you any longer than I must, but there are one or two other points which I think might interest your Lordships. Not only have we these large numbers of people to deal with, but they are in fact representative of some 80 to 100 different trades; and these trades range through all aspects of distribution and various forms of retailing—which involves the greater number. We identify them as different trades in many cases because they have trade associations, and we think it reasonable to assume that if someone goes to the trouble and expense of setting up a trade association he must think that his trade is sufficiently different to be considered as such. Therefore this is the basis on which we work.

As your Lordships have heard, the boards consist of a certain number of employers' representatives, employees' representatives and educationists, and effectively I suppose it can be said that the employers' representatives are the ones who represent the trades. We have nine. I hope that we shall never have any more because, much as I enjoy serving my board, I should be sorry if it were any bigger. But, this being the case, it means, effectively, that nine people are representing, in round figures, 100 trades. We intend to solve that problem by setting up special training subcommittees which will serve the purpose, from our point of view, of getting at first hand the knowledge of the training needs from people in these different sections of the trade and, from their point of view, perhaps, of giving them a feeling of involvement in our affairs. And this might help the point mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, of not having an even balance in the actual board membership for the sections of the trade represented.

We are also setting up functional subcommittees—and this may please the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who I hope will not pursue much further his issue of Central Training Council control, because this would defeat the whole object of not being controlled by Whitehall—


My Lords, if the noble Lord will excuse me for intervening, I never suggested anything of the sort. I said that the Training Council was purely advisory but I hoped that it might advise the Minister to do something.


My Lords, if I may take that point further, I hope that the Minister will not start ordering the training boards about, either, because it is vital that we are seen not to be representative of Whitehall. But, as I was saying, what we are doing—which may be helpful—is to include among our functional sub-committees one on clerical training, which in regard to the distributive trades, I should have thought, without having checked the figures, covers a wide section of the sort of people about whom the noble Lord was speaking.

Among these functional sub-committees we also have a research sub-committee, the first task of which has been to initiate the setting up of a training needs survey. This report we shall not get, even in its preliminary form, until next September, because all these things take time; and the full report we shall probably not get for a good 18 months from now. So I want to leave it on that sort of basis, with the thought that there is an enormous amount of preliminary work to be done when any training board sets to work, and those which are most well known and indeed are much to be applauded for all the pioneering work they did, the Engineering Board in particular and various other boards which have done very good work, have only now just reached what might be called the first stage, the stage at which they can feel that they have broken the ground and are ready to look further.

It is significant that the Engineering Board has various new thoughts, some of which are public and some not yet, on how it will do its work. This is perpetually keeping it ahead in such a way as to secure the backing of the firms with which it has to deal, rather than inflicting things upon them. It is my thought—and here I go along with various noble Lords and in particular with the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona— that the boards should ultimately work towards a situation in which they say, "We have done our job". In the case of my own board it will, I think, take ten years at least, and probably nearer 15, before that stage is reached, but I believe the time will come when it will be possible usefully to say that any further money spent on the costly business of registering and levying, not to mention paying grants—all the administrative side of it—is not worth it, because a large proportion of the trades are training. If you have done your work well and set the groundwork, you can probably say the trades will keep it up thereafter.

As a result of that, I believe it would probably be a good plan—I am not sure whether my training board colleagues, or indeed by own board, would agree— if every five years or so some sort of an inspection were conducted by some training board people and some people from outside the training board—what some people in business might call a management consultant exercise, and what others, if they were in the Navy like myself, would call an Admiral's inspection. Be that as it may, I think that at that sort of interval, about five years or it might be six, there should be an appraisal of how the board is doing and whether it is going in the right direction. The report from that body should go to the board for it either to implement or, if it did not like it, to throw out; because we must retain the independence of boards.

After a certain period it might well come about that the levy and grant operation could be put into abeyance, to start with, and eventually, if it were shown that things were working and people continuing to train, it could be put out of action altogether. Then, at a later date, one might have some mergers of boards. Thus in some thirty years from now—some period such as that— we might find ourselves with ten or a dozen boards which would be training advisory services, keeping up the high standard. This is a look into the long-distance future, and I do not inflict it on the Minister as something on which I expect a Government view.

We have had a long and interesting debate, and we must be very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, for initiating it. I would end on two points. One is that I think my noble friends whose Government initiated (this Act deserve all the congratulations in the world for producing such a splendid Act of Parliament. I should also like to congratulate noble Lords opposite and their Government for the splendid way in which they have put it into effect, taking trouble to find out what people felt—though this may not be obvious to the customers, it is a fact—and then letting the boards get on with it with the minimum possible interference.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to start by congratulating my noble friend Lord Birdwood on his competence and skill as a foster father and the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, on his skill as a maiden; I hope he will be back to speak to us again on many future occasions. I am bound to comment on the remarkable way in which this unreformed, hereditary, unrepresentative House manages to produce people with such a wide and useful range of experience to bring to bear on topics such as this as they come and go. But, my Lords, where have all the unions gone? Half of this activity of industrial training rests with them, and we have not heard from a single one of them. Some of their representatives are here now, but it really is a shame and a sad loss that we have heard nothing from them.

For example, in its fine statement in its third report, "Training for Skill: A Time for Change ", the Central Training Council said, among other things, that in many respects skilled work is still bound by the rigidities and formalities of the deeply rooted system of craft apprenticeship. It is an awful pity that more trade unionists were not here to be reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, just how deeply rooted this system is. More seriously the people subscribing to this view about the rigidity of the craft apprenticeship system included Mr. Frank Cousins, then General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, as well as Chairman of the C.T.C.; Mr. Allen, General Secretary of U.S.D.A.W., Mr. Bassnett of the General and Municipal Workers; Mr. Hugh Scanlon himself, of the A.E.F.; Mr. Dai Davies of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation; Mr. Lowthian of the Building Trades' Workers, and Mr. McGarvey of the Boilermakers. When a body of trade unionists as distinguished and representative as that make a statement of that kind it is a great pity that the action that the unions are taking to deal with it (because it has a tremendous bearing on industrial training), cannot be expounded in your Lordships' House in the course of a debate of this kind.

Noble Lords opposite have a tremendous wealth of experience in this field and it is very sad that they have not seen fit to deploy it. I am among those who hold the view that the effect of industrial disputes, serious as it is, is in some danger of being exaggerated. But I think all noble Lords, and particularly those opposite, will agree that there is no possibility at all of the importance of industrial training being overestimated. The whole progress of our nation and the prosperity of our people depend on it to a very large degree and in a very direct way, and that is not the least of the reasons why this debate is so welcome.

There has been a lot of assessment to-day of the virtues of this Act and the virtues and vices of the Central Training Council and the industrial boards set up under the Act. But the position is that all the boards so far set up do not cover, even in theory, more than two-thirds of the country's total labour force, and perhaps it would be true to say—in fact I am sure it is because my noble friend Lord Mottistone has virtually said it—that hardly more than half the boards that have been actually set up are yet, as one might say, settled in and fully appraised of all the facts they need to have at their disposal in order to develop their full policies.

The operations of the boards are, as we have heard, large matters. There is a great deal of preliminary research to be done in many cases; and as both Lord Morris and Lord Mottistone have said, there are many basic statistics still missing and still to be gathered in. As several boards know to their cost, to guess, to leap in with a training programme before you have looked into these basic elementary facts, is an un-comfortable and humiliating experience. No wonder that the distributive board is moving cautiously! I would say that we need at least another five years to get the apparatus of these boards complete, and then another five years beyond that before all the boards will have had time to learn their lessons and introduce the refinements that the earlier boards are now seeing to be so necessary. When other boards have had time to do this they, too, will, I am sure, earn the accolades which have been so freely given to the engineering and wool industrial training boards this afternoon.

This is not to say that during this decade, looking forward to an expansion in industrial training, as Lord Bowden did, that we have to look forward to an expansion of the boards themselves. God forbid that that would be so! The older boards, having stimulated training by the industry within the industry, are now, praise be! looking forward to a day when they can begin to reduce the role being played by themselves—reducing the role of the positive provision of training to that of monitoring the training that is going on and advising on methods and so on.

Another 10 or 15 years' development does not involve the continued growth of the industrial training boards. I think it may be the fear of some that this is so. I am sure it is not. It may be that within the next decade we shall need to consider some other pattern, possibly a geographical or regional training pattern, side by side with the main industrial pattern, which will always be the most important. We may need another pattern to cater for some small firms which are beyond the range of their I.T.Bs, or for which there is no appropriate board and never could be, or for some of those occupations, such as the training of clerks that my noble friend Lord Aberdare mentioned. If the Government have views of that kind it would be interesting to hear about them. But I dare say it is premature to think about that.

Next I should like to draw your Lordships' attention, with other noble Lords, to the style of intervention that has been brought about by the passage of this Bill. As Lord Strathcona, and I think Lord Jackson, said, it is sad that there should have had to be any intervention. But we can at least be glad that the intervention that has resulted from this Act is so minimal. All this £130 million worth of training that is going on has been achieved at a cost of no more than £3 million to £4 million to the taxpayer, by a short and simple Act of only 19 clauses. Interference by the Government and by Whitehall is rightly minimised.

The Central Training Council— whether or not it is apt or accurate to describe it as a "marionette", I am not so sure; that is perhaps debatable—does not throw its weight about unduly; and I myself do not complain about that. I am not one to seek for any more interference in the work of the industrial training boards by the C.T.C. than is absolutely necessary, and I am sure that interference at this early stage would be premature. No, my Lords: virtually the whole burden of responsibility and initiative is, I believe, quite rightly, being borne by industry itself, and this is surely proving—indeed, has proved— to be a tremendous strength and boon.

Here we have created—and it is an honour that I think can be shared between the Tories who begat the Bill, and the Socialists who have guided it through its infancy—a framework in which industry can largely be left to get on with its own job in its own way. It is an example of our style as Tories which it is certainly our aim to follow again when it falls to us to legislate on industrial relations—to limit as far as possible Government interference, to provide just a framework in which industry, employers and employees can order their own affairs in their own way according to their own very different circumstances, so as to make their best contribution to the nation's needs and people's aspirations.

Several noble Lords have indicated two points on which I, too, should like to hear Her Majesty's Government's views. How do they see the developing role of the Central Training Council? Is the present casting the best possible? What do they feel about this review which is due, I think, between now and April, 1971, and the review committee which the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. jointly have suggested?

The second point—and the noble Lords, Lord Birdwood and Lord Jackson, and others have asked about this—is manpower forecasting and planning. Whose job is this? It seems to me that any shortage of skilled manpower which inhibits economic growth in any sector is a matter for the National Economic Development Council, and in particular industries it is the responsibility of the little "Neddies" in particular. Any shortage of skilled manpower, on the other hand, can only be made good by training, which is a matter for the industrial training boards.

What I think would be interesting to hear from the noble Lord the Minister of State is whether he considers that the respective functions of the main "Neddy" and the little "Neddies", the C.T.C. and the industrial training boards, are all defined with sufficient precision to cover this area. Are they, between them, capable of assessing future manpower needs and the consequent training requirements accurately enough? If not, what proposals are in hand to make them match better; and where in all this precisely does the Institute of Manpower Studies fit in?

I must, I think, turn to this question of the so-called rising tide of criticism which many noble Lords have voiced, and those with anything to do with the construction and road transport industries seem to have felt most strongly about. There is said to be concern about this growing tide of criticism, about the way in which the boards operate, particularly by the smaller firms, particularly about the grant-levy system, and particularly about alleged excessive administrative costs.

I do not dispute the existence of this tide of criticism, and it may be that it is rising. But I must say that I do not share any concern about it. I should have thought that, provided the criticism is well informed and constructive, as nearly all of the criticism we have heard has been, the more criticism there is at this early stage in the development of the boards the better for everybody. It is quite inconceivable that, with an entirely new system—and after three or four years this is still a new system— such as has been created under an Act, and such as each industry has had to come to terms with, no mistakes will be made, and that good systems and good ideas do not have to give way to better ones—and criticism is part of the process of bringing all this improvement about. The great merit of this system, it seems to me, is that most of this criticism and discussion goes on, as it should, within the industry among people who know what they are talking about and between people who know each other and talk the same language. If there is misunderstanding, or lack of communication, it cannot be laid at the door of the faceless bureaucrats of local and central government, who are such baffling people to deal with. Following this thought, I myself would strongly urge the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, if he has not already made his mind up along this line, as I hope he has, to beware of following the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, to be tempted by the transient problems, as I am sure they are, of the Road Transport Board to intervene in their affairs. I cannot believe that the men who serve in that industry are not capable of sorting out their own current problems. No, my Lords, if we are to judge the system, it is not by the degree of criticism it generates but by the way the criticism is dealt with and the beneficial effect that the criticism, in the long run, can have upon it.

This brings me finally to the question of the so-called small firms. This is a problem for every board, and a particularly sharp problem for boards like those in agriculture, distribution, road transport and construction, with many, but very small, units. The Engineering Board, with their early start in an industry already widely familiar with extensive training and with what they call small firms of something under 100 employees, have indicated some principles about the cut-off and the tapering off of the levy and the grant for smaller firms, and about establishing group training. But they are only broad principles, and I would say, perhaps in some disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, that I do not believe that they can be applied at all easily without major modification elsewhere. After all, manifold as small firms are in engineering, 75 per cent. of the employees in that industry are in firms of over 100 strong; but if the Road Transport Board, of which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, spoke so interestingly, considered only establishments of above that size for grant and levy, they would be dealing with only 10 per cent. of the number on their books. Therefore, considerable adjustment, considerable delicacy and ingenuity and adaptation, and very detailed work—and this is what costs the money— is required in working out special schemes in each industry for dealing with its own small firms.

One reads in the introduction on page one of the Road Transport Board Report that their staff have to spend a considerable amount of time travelling around, making personal visits, just to find out whether a firm is still there, before going on to any other details. This alone costs money. I cannot solve the Road Transport Industry Training Board's problems for them, but I can appreciate that they have a difficult problem here. Furthermore, this cut off or tapering off of levy can be done only when all the information about the number of firms and the number of their employees, and so on, is available to the I.T.B. It can be done only at the cost of simplicity, and at the cost of detailed administration. The cheapest, the simplest, systems cannot also be the fairest and the most equitable; and so one is faced with the problem, and it seems to me that every board must go through it. The Central Training Council have said, and the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley has confirmed, that the Central Training Council are working hard at this problem. We have not yet heard very much of the solutions at which they have arrived, and we shall look forward to hearing anything that the noble Lord the Minister of State can tell us. If I sit down, he can get on with it.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a wide-ranging debate. Every speech in it, I think, derived from the first-hand experience of the noble Lord who contributed, and I shall be hard put to it in my reply to maintain the high standard that has been set in the debate.

We are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, for having introduced this subject and for having introduced it in a speech which I am sure many of us found an outstanding one. He combined a very deep and detailed knowledge of the subject, with a broad and stimulating approach which is testified to by the fact that he, by a great skill in compression, managed to touch upon almost all the major themes which have been developed at greater length by noble Lords who spoke later. I should like to join with those who have expressed warm congratulations to the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, on his maiden speech. He, too, spoke from first-hand knowledge, and he gave us a valuable and effective speech which makes us anticipate with eagerness his further contributions to our debates.

I shall not be able to touch at the length which they deserve upon all the contributions which noble Lords have made, but I am sure that all that has been said in this debate will be studied by the Ministers concerned, by the Departments concerned, and by the training boards and the industrial and educational authorities who are interested in this subject. But in trying to survey the debate as a whole, I should like to begin by offering some general observations on the position.

The 1964 Act was born out of a growing concern with the inadequacy and the unevenness of industrial training, and with the inability of the then training arrangements to deal with persistent shortages of skilled labour in a situation of full employment. The Act was necessary to ensure that enough training was done, that the quality and efficiency of training was improved, and that the expense of training was more equitably shared. The industrial training boards have represented a radical new development. It was, and has been, their duty to raise levies on their industries and to pay grants to the employers for training carried out. I might comment that this method of operation has been the subject of a good deal of international interest.

Of course, despite the existence of these boards, as has been emphasised, training remains primarily, as it always has been, the responsibility of industry itself. The majority of the members of the boards are drawn from the industries with which they are concerned, from the employers and from the trade unions in them, and they are financed by industry. Perhaps I might here take the opportunity of underlining a point which was touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in emphasising the very substantial contribution, from their experience of working life, which has been made by the trade union representatives of the boards throughout industry. The boards provide a vehicle for each industry to identify its training needs and to stimulate the training which is required. It follows from this that the boards should have a wide measure of autonomy. They have responsibility for their operations and for the way they go about meeting the objects of the Act, subject only to the approval of the First Secretary of Slate for important developments such as the schemes for levies and grants, and their training recommendations. I think it is true that it is this autonomy which has enabled the boards to secure a substantial measure of support from the industries for which they cater, and to develop the approaches which are appropriate to the varying needs of the industries with which they deal. Also, it has given the boards the status to attract people of a high standing to serve on the boards themselves and on their committees.

The boards do not impose compulsions upon the industries to train. They have, rather, provided a system of financial inducements which present an employer with a choice between training or contributing towards the costs of employers who do train, so enabling him to recruit employees trained by others.

A number of noble Lords have speculated upon the possibility that in due course the need for these boards—in, at any rate, anything resembling their present form—may fade away, and 1 have almost been tempted to speculate about the period of time which this may take. I think we can say that for the boards to have fully achieved their objectives would be a very desirable and triumphant situation to the benefit of employers, employees and the community as a whole. I think it is a matter for conjecture whether this stage will be reached, but certainly it is the Government's view that it would be overoptimistic to expect this in the near future. But what is significant in this regard is the fact that both the Government and the boards have very much in mind the need for levy and grant arrangements to be adapted to changing circumstances, and there is already practical evidence of flexibility in the thinking and the practice of boards. The new ideas which are emerging in this regard are, I think, sufficient evidence that the present system will not be allowed to become an ossified one.

The responsibilities of the boards extend to all the categories of the employees of the particular industries, as has been pointed out, and this should, and does, enable each board to develop a consistent and comprehensive approach to the overall trailing policy of the industry concerned. The Act further recognises the close relationship between training and vocational education in the widest sense. A number of noble Lords touched upon this point, and I shall come back to it in a few moments. But the educationists, who contribute such a valuable element to the boards, can help to ensure that the two strands of training and vocational education are brought together, and that the need for co-operation between the boards and the education authorities is recognised. So the system is based upon persuasion and co-operation, and training is recognised to be the job of industry itself.

I think it is fair to say—and it has been confirmed by this debate—that in general the principles of the Act have received widespread support. We have had contributions from noble Lords who have been able to speak of the problems, the approaches, and sometimes the difficulties, of varying industries. Some boards have encountered difficulties, and in others there are, as is natural, differing opinions about balance and emphasis. At the same time, this should not obscure the fact that it is widely and generally accepted that there: have been very considerable achievements under the Act during the last five years. In the circumstances of our debate, I do not think it would be right for me to be drawn into comment upon the problems and discussions within particular industries. I should, however, like to comment, in respect of arrangements for levy, that it is the general arrangement that the voting on matters connected with levy is not participated in by the educational members of boards but is in the hands of the employer and trade union representatives.

So far as the scope and development of the boards are concerned, the first four were set up in July, 1964, and the total has now reached 28, covering altogether industries employing 15 million persons —rather more than 80 per cent, of the total numbers which it is estimated are covered by the Act. In addition to these, there is of course a voluntary training board, about which the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Grasmere, made such an illuminating contribution to our discussion, which covers almost one million local government staff outside the scope of the Act. There is also under consideration a training board for banking, insurance and finance; and there are provisional plans for a board for the shipping industry, which at present is awaiting the conclusion of the labours of the Committee of Inquiry into shipping, which has been sitting under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale.

Naturally, some of these boards are still in the early stages of their work, but a sufficient number have completed some years of work, and we can thus look to see how far they have succeeded in their objectives. There is evidence of an increase in the quantity of training, and I believe it is also fair to say that there is evidence of substantial developments in the content and methods of training.

A number of noble Lords—and this was one point which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, particularly emphasised —have drawn attention to the problem of the smaller firm. I think it will be recognised that the needs of all firms must be met, irrespective of their size, and a full debate upon this subject, like a full debate upon so many other aspects of this question, could involve us in a very lengthy discussion. But I think it is right in this connection to underline what I think was underlined by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley; that is the growth in the number of group-training schemes under which small and medium-sized employers can be united for the purpose of employing a training officer. The number of schemes of this kind has grown from 65 in 1964 to some 500, in 15 different industries, at the present time. The influence of the boards and the quality of training are illustrated by the range of publications which they have undertaken and by the new approach, of which the modular system of craft training pioneered by the Engineering Industries Training Board is perhaps one of the most significant and interesting.

I have been asked about the role of the Central Training Council and about its future position. I have emphasised the autonomous character of the boards and the diversity of approach which this has enabled them to develop. The system provides for central guidance on major issues by the Central Council, whose fundamental task is to advise the First Secretary of State on the operation of the Act. That guidance is issued in reports and memoranda, and, as noble Lords will know, the Council has issued a number of reports on specific aspects of training problems, particularly on those matters which are common to a number of industries. It would be surprising if, after several years' experience of this new method of organising and structuring industrial training, there had not grown up a number of different opinions and different emphases on the problems, which arise and on policies which should be followed.

The role of the Central Training Council itself is currently under review by a committee under the chairmanship of the Right Honourable Frank Cousins, who is himself the Chairman of the Council. This committee has already received a considerable amount of evidence about the future role of the C.T.C., and there will inevitably be a difference of opinion among those who see an extended role for the C.T.C. and want to see a greater degree of co-ordination and control exercised by the Council over the industrial boards, and those who, without wanting any major change in the autonomy of the boards, see the need for some extra impetus from the centre to enable the C.T.C. to play a more active role. It is the Government's intention to await the report on this subject prepared by the special committee so that, in the light of that report, they may determine their own attitude.

I have been asked some questions about the position of the Government training centres. Here again, there has been a substantial development in their work in the last five years. They have the economic and social purposes of helping to meet persistent shortages of skilled labour and of providing an opportunity for resettlement of those groups in the industrial population who have some particular problem of resettlement or retraining. The number has grown from 25 centres with 3,900 places in 1964, to 44 centres with 9,750 places at the present time. Also, to meet the need for instructors in the Government training centres and in industry there has been a very substantial expansion of the facilities for the training of instructors. A recent development here has been the introduction of free training in Government training centres for workers sponsored by their employers.

I think it should not be forgotten in this connection that in the Development Areas—arid now, of course, under the recent Local Employment Act, in the new Intermediate Areas—where the need is greatest, the training of workers for new jobs has received a considerable stimulus from the direct Government training grants which are available to new and expanding firms. This is perhaps particularly valuable to those workers who need training at the lower levels of skill, rather than for the skilled crafts which are catered for in the Government training centres. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, asked about the possibility of some market research in the field we are discussing. I can tell him that a Government social survey is in process which is examining the cases of a large number of men trained in Government training centres during the year 1965–66.


My Lords, if I may briefly interrupt the noble Lord, may I say that what I should like to see, more than a survey of people who have been trained, is a survey of people who have stayed away from such centres.


I appreciated that that point was in the noble Lord's mind, but I think the survey which is being made, the results of which we expect to get later this year, is likely to cast some light upon attitudes and experiences which I think will perhaps be of a value going beyond what is immediately covered and provided for in the survey itself. At any rate, something is being done to examine the situation in this field.

It has been suggested that the Government training centre facilities are not adequate. There may be need for more centres of this type. Perhaps we ought to need more. But we should not forget that the economic role of the G.T.C.s is that of providing accelerated vocational training in trades where the degree of skill required and the extent of demand from industry for the products of training is such as to justify substantial Government expenditure on providing off-the-job training facilities. By far the greater part of the training needed by workers who may become unemployed or redundant is at the lower levels of skill, and because of the wide range of processes and equipment involved training of this sort can be provided much more efficiently and much more economically by industry itself. That is why in the Development Areas, as I said a moment ago, where the need is greatest, the Government are relying upon industry directly.

Further, the facilities in Government training centres must be kept in step with the demand from industry. We do not want to train people for unemployment. Judged by these tests, the scale of operations which we have planned at present is an adequate one. We are indeed having to work hard to secure enough suitable trainees for some of our most important training trades, and to ensure that industry lakes full advantage of all the ways in which the centres can help to solve the problems of the shortage of skilled labour. These problems, I can assure the House, are kept under constant review, and we are endeavouring to broaden the scope of our training facilities and to use them as flexibly as possible.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that aspect, may I ask him one question? Is it possible to quantify in any way as a percentage of available capacity the extent to which the available capacity in Government training centres is now being used?


I am afraid I cannot give that information immediately, but I will look into the point and write to the noble Lord upon it.

I should like to make a reference to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, about the training in this country of overseas nationals from developing countries. I can say straight away that we agree with what he said about the contribution which employers in this country can make by providing training places for trainees from abroad. A lot is already being done, most of it on the basis of private arrangements between firms, but there are also official schemes run by the Ministry of Overseas Development, who have lately been reviewing, with D.E.P. and with others, how these schemes can be made more effective. And there are a number of students from overseas countries who come here on their own initiative.

In this connection, I should like to make a point about the position of training boards in respect of grants. If an employer puts an overseas trainee on his payroll, then he can claim grant from the training board for the training given. But if the trainee is not put on the payroll—if, for example, he is on some kind of maintenance grant—then at present the training board is precluded by the Act from paying grant to employers out of the levy. There is a section of the Act, Section 14, to which I think the noble Lord referred, which would enable training boards to pay grants in such cases if requested to do so by the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity. Any such payments would have to be financed from sources other than the levy. As I have already said, and as is clear from the facts, all the boards are still at a relatively early stage of their work —some are at a very early stage—and it is not clear that we should be justified at present in asking them to take upon themselves additional work of this kind. But I can assure the House and the noble Lord that this is a matter to which we attach importance and which will be kept under close review.

Now I should like to turn for a moment or two to the question of the relationship between vocational training and further education, and to begin by emphasising that the Ministers and the Departments concerned—and, as has been said, the Department of Education and Science and the D.E.P. are both involved in this matter—are fully alive to the crucial role of further education in this field. The contribution of the education service has grown considerably, and I can affirm that it will continue to grow and to form a vital input into industry and the economy. We recognise that this associated further education has a fundamental contribution to make. First of all, it is a basis which should enable the trainee to benefit more from his practical training. It is also a long-term foundation to assist the employee to meet the changes in his work which are bound to be encountered more and more as the pace of technological development quickens, and to provide for him a foundation for job development and for retraining which is likely to become necessary during his career, for in those circumstances of retraining both time and money can be saved if the trainee has received a good general basis of further education relevant to the industry in which he is employed.

Further, it is an opportunity for the general development of the individual which should help him to find greater fulfilment not only in his life as a whole but in his work, where finding greater satisfaction should lead him to make a greater contribution to the firm in which he is employed, to the industry and to the country as a whole. I think we were struck by the phrase used by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood: "the aim of a fruitful and rewarding working life." This relationship of further education with vocational training as part of the training programme has been emphasised by the Central Training Council.

I suppose it is understandable that vocational education should be dominated by technical studies; but we would not wish there to be a failure to see the value of the wider purpose of the broader education to develop the understanding of society and to develop the individual. For this reason, the inclusion of general studies in courses of further education is something to be welcomed, especially in courses for younger students. It is now usual for up to 90 hours a year out of the 300 to 330 hours available on part-time courses to be devoted to these studies. We regard them as a valuable way in which the young worker is enabled to find his way about the world and to seek to develop the right attitudes and to realise himself both as a worker, as an individual and as a citizen.

That leads me, naturally, to the question of day release upon which a number of noble Lords spoke or asked questions. I should like to give the figures for the total proportion of young employees in the age group fifteen to eighteen who are receiving day release. This figure stood at 19 per cent, in 1964–65; and for the latest year for which we have figures, 1967–68, it stands at just over 22 per cent. Although this is the highest proportion of rate which has been reached in this country, there is, I think, obvious cause for concern that there has not been a faster rate of growth particularly for young people in occupations which require substantial training. It remains the policy of the First Secretary of State that she will normally refuse to approve the grant scheme of any board which does not make it a condition of grant that all young people receiving substantial training are given day release or the equivalent block release to take courses of further education. Even in the substantial training category, who are the skilled workers of the future, something approaching one half are not being released. The rate of release for clerical and commercial workers is particularly low, with girls doing markedly less well than boys. It is our hope that in the case of boards which have been set up for those industries where in the past there has been a notably poor record of release the establishment of the boards will lead to some improvement. The D.E.P., at the request of the Central Training Council, has asked every board to take all the steps they can to encourage the extension of day release. The capacity is there. It is hoped that the boards will do all they can to ensure that its use continues to increase.

In all this, the colleges of further education are playing an important part. They are doing this in a number of ways: higher level courses, integrated courses and in other ways as well. I was asked to say something about the general demand upon colleges and upon their capacity to meet that demand. So far, the colleges have been able to meet all the demands placed upon them. Indeed, often they could cope with still greater demand than that to which they are subjected at present. I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, that the needs which will continue to arise from the development of industrial training and the recommendations of the industrial training boards are taken fully into account in the future planning for the further education service; and that the recent expansion of activities at first degree level and above and in the polytechnics (which we welcome) has been matched by the development at the lower level. There is no question of one— and the noble Lord was anxious on this point—taking place at the expense of the other.

There are very many other aspects of this important subject which have been raised by noble Lords and on which it is tempting to spend time. I must make a very brief reference to a number of them: first, to training in industrial relations. This is a matter to which the Government attach importance. It was the subject of recommendations of the Donovan Commission and it was the subject of reference in the Government White Paper In Place of Strife; and seen in the context of improvement in industrial relations by improvement in industrial relations training. The Government have put proposals on this subject to industry and consultations with both sides of industry are now in progress.

A number of noble Lords touched upon the subject of manpower forecasting and we recognise the interpenetration of industrial training and manpower forecasting. A debate on this subject could lead us very far from the subject which is before us to-day; but we recognise the inevitable involvement of the industrial training boards in this matter. They have in this task the support of the Department's Manpower Research Unit to which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, referred, which is able to supply technical advice and is engaged in a large number of studies in this field. Manpower forecasting is still at a fairly rudimentary stage. There are many problems, statistical and otherwise, to be overcome before it is possible for reliable systems to be devised. But the Department of Employment and Productivity and the Central Training Council are agreed on the need for greater co-ordination of the activities of the training boards in this field. This also is the view of the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. It is, I believe, one of the subjects which has been particularly identified by the Committee to which I referred earlier which is examining the future organisation and functioning of the Central Training Council.

Turning to another subject, one area where progress has not been as satisfactory as was hoped has been that of the training of clerical and commercial staff. This was a matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred at some length and expressed a concern which is shared by the Government. We are concerned from the point of view that there are many young people going into commercial activities who get no training worthy of the name. We are concerned with the fact that the failure of many firms to provide systematic training in this field leads to ineffective utilisation of the staff concerned and has its repercussions on productivity. I hope that the noble Lord will appreciate that it is considerations of time only and in no way a lack of concern for the problems which he emphasised which is making my reference to this so necessarily brief.


My Lords, may I intervene? What the noble Lord has said is most interesting, but could he refer to the Central Training Council's comments on the need for this to be taken in hand by one board which has a major interest in the subject to cover several industries right across the board—for example, in the matter of exports.


My Lords, I think the recognition has been that to some extent this must fall within the scope of the boards concerned with the particular industries. In fact, I think I am right in saying that eleven training boards have published recommendations which offer detailed guidance on the training of office staff, and other boards have recommendations on this subject in the course of preparation. The noble Lord is quite right in saying that the Central Training Council, in its third Report, drew attention to this unsatisfactory state of affairs; and boards are in general seeking the extension of office training. The current situation, as I understand it, is that the Central Training Council has asked them to take all possible steps to encourage the increase of day release for young office staff in their respective industries and to report back to the Council on the position of commercial and clerical staff.


My Lords, I do not want to labour this point, because the noble Lord has been very kind, and I realise that there is the question of time. But I think that what is alarming us is that although individual boards are doing things, this is a subject which ought to be co-ordinated centrally because the employment is the same. All clerks are doing much the same work, and what is worrying us who are interested is the feeling that individual boards will go their own way.


My Lords, I take note of that point and I am sure that it will be noted elsewhere.

I will come now to the last topic with which I wish to deal, that of management training. When the Industrial Training Bill was going through Parliament there was some debate about whether it should cover management at all, and the fact that management training has now come to be regarded as one of the most important aspects of the work of I.T.B.s is, I think, an indication of how far we have moved. The Central Council established a special Committee on this subject. It has produced reports on the training and development of managers with the object of assisting the industry boards to prepare recommendations and to undertake schemes appropriate to their industries. These questions of management training are very much in the minds of the members of the boards and the Central Training Council.

I must refer briefly to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, about the difficulties arising in connection with the industrial training of graduates and the difficulties which exist over mounting schemes requiring the co-operation of the University Grants Committee and the industrial training boards. We recognise the reality of this problem. Already there has been some consultation with the appropriate authorities, with the universities and the industrial training boards concerned. This discussion will continue with the object of trying to minimise or remove the difficulties to which my noble friend referred.

My Lords, I think the House will agree that we have spent a very valuable period in our discussion during this afternoon and evening. In concluding my remarks I should like to emphasise the very great potential, as we see it, of the whole industrial training movement as it is developing in this country on the basis of the 1964 Act. We have seen the establishment of virtually the full range of training boards covering those areas of industry and commerce to which the Act applies. A great deal of constructive work has been done, especially by the longer-established boards, and many of the more recently established boards are now get-ting under way seriously. Over the next four or five years we may hope to see even more rapid progress upon the foundation so far established.

The whole development is one in which — as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, in particular—all political Parties may take pride. The original Act was passed while the predecessors of the present Government were in Office with the general consent and full backing of the then Opposition. The implementation of the Act has largely fallen on the present Government, but of course industrial training has remained largely outside the field of political contention. It has been a field in which there has been constructive co-operation by both sides of industry with the participation of education experts and authorities.

I think therefore that, in so far as we may take pride in the progress which has been made, that pride can be widely shared. For the future we may expect that the investment made in industrial training will bring increasing dividends, in terms of the volume and quality of training, and more particularly in the quality than in the quantity; and that the effect will be the preparation of successive generations of our people more effectively for the work that needs to be done in our developing industrial society.

7.17 p.m.


My Lords, I will not delay the House for long. We have had, as everyone agrees, an extremely interesting afternoon. If the debate has had a fault it has been that of blandness. I do not think I have every witnessed a debate where there was so much agreement. There was praise for various industrial training boards and brickbats for others, but in general we have virtually moved together as a body. All speakers agreed about all the things people re-marked should be done. I sometimes think that the measure of the success of a debate is the closing words of the Government speaker. We are all together in being grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, for his quite extra-ordinarily detailed résumé of the training scheme. He unrolled It for us and I took pleasure in listening to him.

I have one or two points which I should like to have noted relevant to some of the speeches that I heard. One, in particular, I wish to pick up from the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. In connection with his work he is probably familiar with a book entitled Organisational Psychology, by Schein who, in his remarks on job motivation, condenses the subject in this paragraph: If the organisation expects employees to be involved, the organisation must provide rewards and conditions consistent with such involvement. It cannot merely pay more money to obtain commitment, creativity and flexibility; there must be the possibility of obtaining non-economic rewards such as autonomy, genuine responssbility, opportunities for challenge, and for psychological growth. My Lords, I think that comment would be the theme for everything we have thought about training. Remember that training is certainly the activities of authorised bodies. We have heard more than our fair share about three-letter groups: D.E.P., D.E.S., and I.T.B., and so on. But training is individuals being trained; individuals being filled for life. I had hoped that at leas: one person would mention a specific effort to train for retirement. Training for leisure was certainly referred to, and I suppose that training for retirement is simply an extension of that activity. However, I think that such training does need specific acti-vities—though possibly that does not fall within the terms of the Industrial Training Act.

With the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, too, I would certainly agree that there arc too many training boards at the moment. Some of (he small boards have an ill-defined role, when they find them-selves overwhelmed by the size of the few companies with which they deal. I would quote the Petroleum Industry Training Board and the Manmade Fibres Board which the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, mentioned. 1 would join in the general congratulation to the noble Viscount for a most balanced maiden speech. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, covered commercial training, and I was pleased that he did.

I would say that the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Grasmere, was too modest about the work of his own board. The noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, mentioned that he had made an illuminating speech on the work of the Local Government Industrial Training Board. I happen to know that that board is doing pioneering work in the theoretical content of training, and I look forward to some of the future recommendations flowing from that body. I cannot pass without thanking the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for his précis of the legislative background to the Act to-day. It would appear that all is sweetness and light in to-day's training legislation compared with the agonies of its predecessors. I think that that concludes the specific points I want to note from the speeches that were given.

I should like to return to a general expression of optimism about the Act. And I would return again and again to my point that it is the individual who is being trained. However much we may plan for him, we must remember that it is a single person who is presented with all these alternatives and who is being asked to choose the kind of life he is going to make for himself. We must give him as many alternatives as possible and the best guidance. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, with-drawn.