HL Deb 19 February 1986 vol 471 cc620-2

2.57 p.m.

Lord Gridley

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 is proposed in the two-year YTS to ensure the highest standards in training.

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, in addition to the regular monitoring of YTS programmes by the Manpower Services Commission, the standards of training on two-year YTS will be ensured by a number of specific measures including courses leading to qualifications, a new training standards advisory service and training by approved training organisations.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, while thanking my noble friend the Minister for that Answer, may I ask him in connection with this scheme, which is based upon employee status and a competence certificate at the end of training, whether it is not reasonable in regard to employee status to extend the provisions of this scheme to the Ministry of Defence when a £5,000 million contract has been signed between this country and Saudi Arabia? Does he agree that this will increase employment? Would it not increase employment in relation to everything that was said during the points raised on the first Question today?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, the important part of the two-year YTS is to ensure that all young people who enter not only benefit from their time on the scheme but leave with a valid qualification, or a credit towards a qualification, which will help them build up their future lives. It matters little, I suspect, whether they take this training—provided that it is good—with an employer in the private sector, some employers in the public sector or even in the armed forces. There is an armed forces scheme which has not been over-subscribed in the past but the young people going through it will benefit from it.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, will the Minister arrange for Members of this House and of another place to be invited to the various centres now in operation so that they may inspect and see what is going on? Speaking as one who has been to a number of centres I believe that the standard of training is very high indeed, the equipment is absolutely first class, and it is about time that Members of this House and the other House were given a chance to see it. Why does not the noble Lord arrange something intelligent like that?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mellish. I gladly invite each and every Member of your Lordships' House to see youth training schemes anywhere in the land. Rather than choose for you, you choose for us, and we shall arrange for a visit.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, in addition to the YTS, which seems to be improving, can the noble Lord say what is the attitude of the Government to the joint recommendation of the TUC and the CBI that there should be a package with relevance to the inner cities which would enhance the YTS but entail more spending? Is he aware that, according to the TUC and the CBI, that is preferable to cuts in taxation? Is that proposal under consideration?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, I think we have demonstrated our concern for the inner cities in the inner city initiative that was announced last week. The other matters to which the noble Lord referred are matters more for my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, will the noble Lord accept that there are many reports in the inner cities, particularly in inner London, of abuse of the YTS schemes? Youngsters are being taken in and given no structured training at all but in many instances are being used as cheap labour. Has the noble Lord visited any of those establishments mentioned in the reports of many of the voluntary organisations who have also been monitoring the youth training scheme and receiving different results from those the noble Lord mentioned?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, no. I totally refuse to accept that, for this very good reason. Each and every youth training scheme or the new YTS goes through an area manpower board, which is not under the control of my department but is a board on which sit five members from the CBI, TUC, local authority representatives and the world of education. Each and every scheme is monitored and can be closed down if any case of the kind referred to is proved, and indeed would be if such a thing happened. What I do know is that there are many young people in the inner cities who do not take advantage of the YTS, having gone through school systems which unfortunately bring them out into the world of work not prepared for it.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord the Minister if there are domestic science schemes in the YTS, so that there can be a higher standard of people coming forward to work in hospital kitchens?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, I have visited many schemes of industrial catering and variants on that. I suspect there may not be any in catering for hospitals because until recently the National Health Service was not prominent in YTS. However, I hope very much that this situation will be remedied in the future.

Lord Rochester

My Lords, will the noble Lord recall that many large companies with good training records run YTS schemes for social reasons and do not afterwards employ many of the young people involved? Is the noble Lord aware of the difficulties that some of these companies are reported to be experiencing in submitting for audit their schemes to the Manpower Services Commission?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, the new YTS scheme starts in April and will receive the main influx of young people leaving school from June through to October. However, I am told that already today nationally over 87 per cent. of schemes are agreed and in place, and in parts of the North-East and North-West the figure is 93 per cent. My memory tells me that this is a far better position than that of three years ago when we were introducing the original youth training scheme. I therefore have every confidence that there will be more than a sufficient variety of places to cover all kinds of young people.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that we believe it is vital for this scheme to succeed? Therefore, I hope he will continue to put emphasis on the need for the scheme to be properly structured, and on training in modern skills leading to qualifications and permanent employment. Now, will he—

Noble Lords

Order, order!

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

I am sorry, my Lords, but this is a question which is important and which I feel sure the noble Lord, Lord Young—

A noble Lord


Lord Stoddart of Swindon

—will wish to answer. Therefore, I hope I shall be allowed to ask it without interruption. Will the noble Lord consider whether there is some difficulty about the attitude of young black people to the scheme? This is important. Will he also ensure that they, too, feel that they are part of the scheme and can take advantage of it?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, I am very concerned if any young person does not avail himself or herself of YTS, because I believe it gives the best start to life. I am conscious that in many inner city areas there are young people of whatever colour who do not come into YTS, and we are determined to take all the steps we can to enable them to come in and to benefit from it.

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