East Lancashire Training and Enterprise Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:28 pm on 16th January 1991.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle 10:28 pm, 16th January 1991

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves) for allowing me to contribute to this Adjournment debate. I am particularly delighted to have the opportunity to speak in what I believe is the first debate in this House on a training enterprise council. As my hon. Friend the Minister knows, when I was a Minister at the Department of Employment I had a modest role in the creation and promotion of TECs, and therefore I have a particular interest in them.

I was fortunate to have an early opportunity last year to visit East Lancashire training enterprise council, my local TEC, and to hear from the chairman, Tony Cann, and the chief executive, Mark Price, of their development plans. As my hon. Friend has said, ELTEC is fortunate in having such committed and enthusiastic leadership.

I shall concentrate my remarks on the organisations in Pendle which work with ELTEC and the delivery of programmes. My constituency has the second highest percentage of people in manufacturing employment in the country—just over 55 per cent.

The largest provider in Pendle is the Pendle Training Group which focuses on training in engineering, electronics, electrical work, construction, care, catering and retail. It operates from a purpose-built centre in Nelson under Jim Heaton and his team. It is reputed to have the best equipped CNC training facility in the United Kingdom. Pendle Training Group has a close relationship with ELTEC, which influences between 75 per cent. and 80 per cent. of its activity. It is a major provider of employment training and youth training. Through ET it is providing continuous updating skills to several hundred adults and it is striving to develop a compact for engineering skills with local employers in conjunction with ELTEC.

In addition the Pendle Training Group has had a dialogue with Nelson and Colne college, my local tertiary college, with a view to developing training in tourism and leisure.

The Pendle re-employment project under Marian Wiseman focuses on providing training for clerical-administration work, woodworking, some building, horticulture and care. It also provides a number of places for trainees with special needs. I look forward to presenting to PRP its approved training organisation status award—the first in east Lancashire for employment training—on 25 January.

In recent discussions with PRP I know that it is concerned about three particular matters. First, it is concerned about the role of the training agent. It would prefer to be able to recruit directly. Secondly, it is worried about the likely 31 per cent. reduction in overall funding and either having to manage with less money per trainee or having to cut the number of trainees. That is a particularly worrying feature with unemployment locally beginning to rise. Thirdly, last year, 80 per cent. of PRP's trainees had special needs and it is especially concerned about their needs given the financial pressures. It has also asked me to ask my hon. Friend the Minister whether any future developments are planned towards community-based projects, perhaps on a pilot basis.

Another provider is College Training Services in Colne under the direction of Ken Williamson. He welcomes the flexibility that ELTEC has brought to training, but again that college has drawn attention to the fact that there has been a reduction in the amount of funding available to deliver quality training as compared with the previous Manpower Services Commission—Training Agency structure for special needs trainees. While ELTEC is trying to make performance-related funding applicable to all schemes, College Training Services makes the point that there will be a vast difference in performance achievement between more and less able young people.

We also have a number of other specialist organisations in Pendle that work closely with ELTEC. BCD under David Owen occupies a prime site in the Arndale centre in Nelson and provides hair and beauty care skills with an almost 100 per cent. record of placement throughout north-east Lancashire in hairdressing salons. It is especially pleasing that a substantial number of its former trainees have gone on to become self-employed.

For some years Rolls-Royce at Barnoldswick has undertaken apprentice training under the auspices of YT. Undert training manager Ray Aspin the company has 53 apprentices at various stages of training who are currently following EITB—engineering industry training board—programmes. Brian Carter, the facility manager of the Barnoldswick plant, is a director of ELTEC.

The Pendle Enterprise Trust under director Ron Morrish is currently working with ELTEC on the enterprise allowance scheme and on improving the quality of Young Enterprise. It hopes to develop an increasingly positive relationship with ELTEC.

The TECs programme is a unique concept which is succeeding in bringing local industry into a more formalised training structure and, for the first time, giving those running local companies a real opportunity to target skills training to the needs of regional industry. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to do all that he can to ensure that ELTEC and others like it have the resources to fulfil their role. Future prosperity and employment opportunities demand nothing less.