§ 3.14 p.m.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what effect they expect the change to independent funding of ITECs (information technology centres) will have on their training programmes and on the provision of Youth Training Scheme places.
§ The Minister Without Portfolio (Lord Young of Graffham)
My Lords, information technology centres exhausting their entitlement to their initial three years of Department of Trade and Industry pump-priming funding are being required to make a partial contribution to their future salary and capital costs. In order to help centres do this, the Government have relaxed the conditions under which they operate and are supporting a range of marketing initiatives to facilitate the sale of their products and services.
Following the Government's announcement of the introduction of a new two-year Youth Training Scheme, the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission has initiated a review of the future role and overall strategy of information technology centres which will be carried out in consultation with the interested parties, including centre sponsors and managers. This will take account of an independent review of ITECs being carried out at the commission's request by a firm of management consultants.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I wonder whether he is aware that many careers officers, and indeed some area manpower boards, are very concerned that as the ITECs become more income-generation biased and more concerned with the provision of commercial services, the opportunities for many young people, particularly the less qualified and disadvantaged groups, are likely to decrease?
§ Lord Young of Graffham
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that comment. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships' House that ITECs, information technology centres, are part of the Youth Training Scheme and as such are not a formal part of the education system; but their very basis is employment-oriented, and the driving force behind them is to introduce young people to the world of work. I suspect that the steps which are being taken in this regard will not have any adverse effects on those less fortunate young people but would in fact introduce them to work.