Youth Opportunities Programme

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 Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford 12:00 am, 28th July 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to assist young persons who have completed a youth opportunities programme and are unable to find work.

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

The youth opportunities programme is designed to equip young people for employment. The training content is currently being improved so that participants are better fitted for a wider range of job opportunities.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is unhelpful, to say the least, that many of the public service unions are refusing to accept youth opportunities candidates into the public service? Is he making any progress in persuading the unions to accept such candidates? In le long run the scheme might bring into the public service for permanent employment many young people who, having had experience in the service, might wish to join it.

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. It would be far more profitable for the public service unions and for young school leavers if the unions took a more positive attitude towards the youth opportunities programme.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Ayrshire South

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the growing discontent among trainees on the youth opportunities programme with the level of the allowance that is paid to them, which has remained the same for over 18 months? It is an allowance that compares unfavourably with the amount that is made available to those who are unemployed. What action does he propose taking to increase the allowance?

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

At least 10,000 young people are entering the scheme every week. The growing discontent to which the hon. Gentleman refers cannot be as bad as all that. However, the difference between the allowance and unemployment benefit is £8·25. My right hon. Friend has been saying for some time that he is prepared to review the £23 allowance.