HC Deb 07 March 1988 vol 129 cc38-9W
Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to strengthen schools-industry links in inner city areas.

Mr. Fowler

I propose to deploy the resources of the Department of Employment Group to encourage the development and implementation of 12 employer-school compacts within inner city target areas. The basic aim of these compacts will be for employers to guarantee a job with training to young people from inner city schools who meet agreed standards of achievement and motivation, and for this to be set down in an agreement between employers and schools. In return, schools will commit themselves to bringing then pupils up towards these agreed standards.

I have asked the Manpower Services Commission to give financial and organisational support to the 12 compacts for their first four years and I am setting aside £3 million a year for the next four years for this purpose. The scheme will be operated in full co-operation with the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr. Knapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he intends to take to strengthen training and improve job prospects for inner city residents.

Mr. Fowler

My Department already spends over £l 1 billion in inner cities target areas providing unemployed people with skills, helping them find jobs and encouraging small businesses which are a prime source of new jobs. In intend to build on this work to focus our support on those who most need help. In particular, the following new initiatives are being introduced.

More than 100 specialist staff will work in local communities giving information and advice about the Government's training programmes, building on the help already being provided through 500 jobcentres and unemployment benefit offices.

People living in inner cities will be given more immediate access to information on jobs arid training programmes, for example in community centres or libraries, in some cases using new technology.

Training in literacy, numeracy and English as a second language will be included in the Government's new training for employment programme. Special restart assessment courses will be set up for people lacking these basic skills.

A campaign to recruit more employers as training providers, particularly for the new programme, will be mounted.

The Manpower Services Commission will encourage employers to provide more training places and collaborate in planning inner city training programmes.