On 3rd May the number of unfilled vacancies for men in skilled trades at employment exchanges was 18,942 in engineering and allied occupations and 6,733 in the construction industry. At the present time Government training centres have an annual rate of output of about 12,000 trained men, including some 6,500 in engineering and allied occupations and 4,500 in construction trades, but these figures are rising month by month as the capacity of the centres increases.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that these figures show that the Government are only just scratching the surface of the problem and that no one in engineering or construction thinks that they are seriously interested in expanding the output of their G.T.C.s? Is he having discussions with private industry on the further use by the Government of the facilities of private industry—training, equipment and so on—which is not possible at present, as they are fully used?
I totally reject the claim that private industry believes that the Government are not committed to expanding training. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's final point is that, of course, consultations are going on with private industry but they are properly going on, under the aegis of the industrial training board which was set up for that purpose. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will recall that a substantial expansion programme for the G.T.C.s has been announced, and that by the spring of 1969 there will be 17,000 places there each year—a substantial increase over the last two years.