Good progress is being made to develop vocational qualifications within the tourism industry, in line with the objectives of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications. The Hotel and Catering Training Board is establishing a modular certification system through the Manpower Services Commission funded "Caterbase" project, and the Association of British Travel Agents and City and Guilds are continuing to develop competence-based vocational qualifications in the retail travel and tour operator sectors.
I thank my hon. Friend for that constructive and helpful reply and for the zest and enthusiasm that he brings to tourism as an important economic sector, but may I remind him, if he needs reminding, that far too many people in the tourism industry still have no qualifications? Will my hon. Friend look to the longer term with regard to a wider spread of qualifications?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We start from a position in which 94 per cent. of those employed in the industry have no qualifications whatever, and we need to put that right. That is why we are introducing the new modular Caterbase programme and why I am pleased that the sector has some 9,000 young people on YTS and some 2,000 trainees under the old JTS for 1985–86.
Will the Minister assure the House that in the new ideas on which the Government are now working consideration will be given to having training modules that concentrate on the winter months, so that those involved in tourism, who are far too busy in the summer to take advantage of training, can have some complementary opportunities in the winter so as to balance the year-round opportunities for employment?
I very much welcome the hon. Gentleman's constructive suggestion. I shall be meeting the chairman of the Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board and in the next two weeks I shall certainly discuss that. It is, of course, part of our new policy on tourism to try to extend the tourist season, which the hon. Gentleman, of course, would welcome.
I am delighted at my hon. Friend's announcement. Does that mean that the Government will now carry out the recommendation of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry to extend the tourist season by paying a third of the labour costs of experimental extensions of the season at either end by a total of one month? Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that permanent pensionable employment is needed, not just seasonal peak employment?
I am sorry to have to disappoint my hon. Friend, but I dealt in some detail with the Select Committee report in a full debate on the Floor of the House. As my hon. Friend knows, we were prepared to accept more than half the recommendations, but we had to reject that specific suggestion.
I am pleased to say that I shall have an opportunity this Thursday to visit the Dorset Institute of Higher Education, which is one of the leading colleges in this sector. We have also been impressed with the number of places made available at polytechnic and university level. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that if we are to encourage more people to come into the industry and take up important management positions, tourism needs to be recognised as a responsible and respectable sector by those institutes of higher education. I am delighted to tell the hon. Gentleman that I have frequent meetings with my colleagues in the Department of Education and Science on that subject.