Training Centres

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Tooting 12:00 am, 28th July 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the present number of Government training centres in England and Wales; and what was the number on 1 May 1979.

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

There are at present 60 skill-centres and 21 annexes in England and Wales. On 1 May 1979, there were 60 skillcentres and 29 annexes.

Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Tooting

Is the Minister aware that he has given a most deplorable reply? Does he agree that as a result of the massive increase in unemployment under the Government there should also have occurred a massive extension of Government training centres, which would have led to meaningful training being given to unemployed people and would have provided them in time with the opportunity to obtain proper jobs? When are the Government intending to tackle the issue? When will they stop the kind of camouflage measures announced yesterday?

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that simply to spend one's way out of trouble will create greater trouble. The skillcentre programme was agreed with the Manpower Services Commission, which includes TUC commissioners as well as CBI commissioners.

Photo of Mr Nigel Forman Mr Nigel Forman , Sutton Carshalton

While the majority responsibility for industrial and commercial training must remain with the private sector, may I ask my hon. Friend to give the House the assurance that the next priority to which his Department will turn its attention urgently is the plight of the long-term unemployed—those who have been unemployed for over six-months or, in some cases, over 12 months, since the forecasts given by the Manpower Services Commission have been alarmingly high?

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

I agree with my hon. Friend. The issue of the long-term unemployed is a matter to which we in the Department and those in the Manpower Services Commission devote our attention. That is why we have the community enterprise programme.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

In view of the fact that there must be a great deal more industrial training, particularly for young people, what steps have the Government taken to enter into serious discussion with the Trades Union Congress and the trade unions in order to reach an amicable agreement to bring about the expansion that is required at the earliest moment?

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the apprenticeship programme is important for young school leavers. That is why the Government lay great store by the new training initiative published by the Manpower Services Commission, together with the TUC commissioners concerned.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Ripon

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of the trade associations that thought that they could replace industrial training boards now seem unwilling to take part in new training initiatives? Will he assure the House that before any ITBs are abolished there will be means incorporated in the alternative arrangements to ensure that new training initiatives can be carried out effectively?

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

I agree with my hon. Friend that it is important that the trade associations make a constructive approach to the new training initiative. Anything that he or I can do to make sure that this is the case will be a worthwhile exercise.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Will the Government stop misleading the House and the country about their attitude and intentions towards industrial training? Their words suggest that they are backing industrial training, but between now and 1984 they will cut Government support for industrial training by £77·5 million. The training opportunities programme provided for nearly 100,000 trainees in 1978, but this year it is likely to make provision for fewer than 60,000. Why do not the Government come clean?

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman gets his figure of £77·5 million. I am sure that he listened to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday. A large part of her statement was devoted to training and industrial training.