§ Mr. O'Halloran
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of unemployed school leavers in the United Kingdom and in the Greater London area, respectively, at the latest available date; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Fraser
30,064 and 1,567 respectively on 12th February. While the numbers of unemployed school leavers have been declining steadily since August 1975 the levels remain unacceptably high. That is why the Government have taken special measures to assist the employment and training of young people, including school-leavers.
§ Mr. Kinnock
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make extra financial support available to the Manpower Services Commission to ensure that all school leavers without work are given technical training during unemployment at rates equivalent to wages; and 63W if he will expand training for adult unemployed paying training grants equivalent to the comparable industrial wage.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
Since April 1975 the Government have allocated an extra £126 million to the Manpower Services Commission to strengthen its training programmes in 1976 and 1977. As a result, over 30,000 young people aged under 19 will undertake vocational training during 1976, either under the auspices of the Training Services Agency or the industrial training boards. There are to be detailed discussions with industrial training boards about the numbers to be trained in 1976–77. It is the Government's intention that no unemployed young person who can benefit from training should be denied the opportunity. The number of adults taking vocational training courses under the Training Opportunities Scheme (TOPS) is also to be increased, and the numbers of TOPS trainees is expected to rise from 60,000 in 1975 to over 80,000 in 1976.
Training allowances are designed to enable trainees to maintain themselves and their dependants at a reasonable standard during the training course. In order to provide a continuing incentive they are set at a level which is above that of unemployment benefit but below the wage which the trainee is likely to receive when fully trained. Trainees also receive a free mid-day meal or a meal allowance, travelling expenses if the journey to the training establishment is over two miles and, if eligible, a supplement based on previous earnings. All these payments are free of tax.