HC Deb 07 May 1956 vol 552 cc81-2W
Captain Kerby

asked the Minister of Labour (1) what degree of competition, between Government training centre trainees and apprentice-trained engineering craftsmen, was envisaged by his Department prior to the late war; how far it was envisaged that such competition would be fair enough to allow the ex-trainees to benefit fully from their vocational training; and if it was intended that such trainees should enter into industry as permanent or merely temporary craftsmen;

(2) when his Department commenced sending trainees from vocational training centres for employment by the Air Ministry as aircraft fitters; and what understanding existed for ensuring that these ex-trainees acquired status as skilled men.

Mr. Carr

For some time before the war, engineering fitters were being trained by my Department in the Government training centres, and a limited number of aero fitters was also being trained for certain private aircraft manufacturing firms. My Department first began the large-scale training of aircraft fitters for the Air Ministry in the early part of 1939, when it became necessary to man up some of that Department's newly opened aircraft maintenance units and repair depots.

All pre-war engineering trainees would have been told at the time of entering on a course that if they completed it satisfactorily there was every prospect of obtaining work in their training trade alongside apprenticeship-trained craftsmen. No guarantee respecting either the permanency of their employment or of their future status would have been given to any Government trainee since it has always been the practice of my Department to regard questions of that kind as being matters for negotiation between the two sides of industry.

According to the Department's records the ex-trainee aircraft fitters in Air Ministry establishments started in 1939 at a wage of 10s. per week below the full trade rate for apprentice-trained aircraft fitters, and all of them who passed an Air Ministry trade test at the end of three months proceeded at once to the full trade rate for the job. Though all ex-trainees still in Air Ministry employment after nearly seventeen years are registered as dilutees, they are paid at exactly the same rates as apprentice-trained craftsmen.