HC Deb 20 February 1979 vol 963 cc100-2W
24. Mr. Corbett

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the progress of the special temporary employment programme and the job opportunity scheme.

Mr. Golding

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that between 1 April 1978 when the programme began, and 31 December 1978 there had been 8,800 starts on the special temporary employment programme. Approvals are now being given at the rate of some 4,000 places per month and the MSC hope to reach the programme's target of 25,000 continuously filled places by June 1979.

I am also informed that at the end of December some 100,000 young people had joined and 55,000 young people had places on the youth opportunities programme. This is good progress towards the target of having 80,000 filled places by the end of March 1979.

The MSC hopes that in most parts of the country it will fulfil the objective that no young person who left school in Easter or summer of 1978 and who remains unemployed at Easter 1979 shall be without the offer of a suitable opportunity in the programme. However a considerable task remains in certain areas of high youth unemployment.

36. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on employment prospects and plans for improving employment opportunities in South Yorkshire, especially in those areas where there are large pockets of high unemployment.

Mr. Golding

At 6.3 per cent. the level of unemployment in South Yorkshire is far too high, and there are areas, such as Mexborough, where unemployment is considerably more severe than the average for the county would imply. My Department's special employment measures have so far helped nearly 23,500 people in South Yorkshire, making a positive contribution towards alleviating unemployment in the short term. As my right hon. Friend announced earlier today, the youth opportunities programme and special temporary employment programme are to be further expanded and the job release scheme is to continue; the Government also intend to introduce a scheme for the support of short time working to replace the temporary employment subsidy, and are considering a new subsidy for firms which are re-structuring to preserve jobs which would otherwise disappear.

The designation of the county as an assisted area will continue to help attract permanent jobs—selective financial assistance under section 7 of the Industry Act has so far safeguarded over 5,100 existing jobs in the area, and created 14,600 new ones. Moreover, I hope that the modernisation and extension of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Scheme between Doncaster and Rotherham, which the Government have recently approved, will enhance employment prospects, both by providing jobs directly in its construction and operation and by attracting new industries which might use it.

Mr. Steen

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he has taken to ensure that the closest partnership exists between local authorities, employer and voluntary bodies sponsoring schemes under the youth opportunities and special training employment programmes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Golding

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 19 February 1979], gave the following information:

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that it seeks the fullest co-operation of local authorities, employers and voluntary bodies at national, area and local level. The special programmes board, which includes representatives of all their groups, plays a key part in determining how the programmes should operate and what the targets should be.

The 28 area boards bring together representatives of local authorities, employers, voluntary organisations and trade unions in their area under an independent chairman. They play a vital part in determining the size, shape and quality of the programme in their areas and are currently considering plans for 1979–80. In addition, many local education authorities have formed groups below the level of area boards. They normally include representatives of voluntary organisations, the education service and the youth service, and fulfil two important roles. First, they review the operation of the programme in a locality, bringing forward ideas for projects. Secondly, they provide a channel of communication with young people.