HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 c115W
Mr. Doran

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on recent trends in the labour market in the manufacturing industry. [73097]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Our policies have created a strong economy geared to delivering stability, low inflation and sound public finances. Alongside this, our labour market policies promote attachment to the job market. As a result of our policies we have around the lowest number of unemployed people in a quarter century, and more people in work than ever before, with an increase in overall employment of almost 200,000 in the last year.

There are consistently high numbers of vacancies being created, with approximately 10,000 jobs being notified to Jobcentres every day. Our welfare to work policies, such as the New Deal, are aimed at helping those who lose their job, whether in manufacturing or any other sector, access these vacancies and return to work as quickly as possible.

In the United Kingdom, manufacturing employment has been on a downward trend since the mid-1960s. The trend towards a larger proportion of total employment being accounted for by services is common amongst industrialised countries. However, manufacturing matters. It creates a fifth of our national output, employs four million people and produces the majority of our exports. The success of United Kingdom manufacturing is therefore crucial to our country's prosperity, now and in the future.

One of the pillars of the Government's manufacturing strategy is raising skills and education levels and the Department is playing a key role in this area. Jobcentre Plus is one of the five key partners involved in the production of Frameworks for Regional Employment and Skills Action within the context of the Regional Economic Strategies. The Frameworks offer the opportunity to bring together various agencies to work towards a common employment strategy. They include plans for dealing with skills shortages, helping to ensure that industry has access to a pool of potential employees with the right skills for the modern labour market.