Young People

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1994.

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Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael , Cardiff South and Penarth 12:00 am, 29th November 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what fresh initiatives he intends to take to motivate young people toward training and employment.

Photo of James Paice James Paice Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

The competitiveness White Paper sets out proposals for better careers advice and work experience which, together with more vocational routes, should motivate young people to maximise their talents.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael , Cardiff South and Penarth

Does the Minister realise that his reply will be as boring to young people as the Minister was obviously bored in giving it? Does he not realise that giving opportunity is the best way to motivate young people? Will he say specifically what he will offer? What opportunity will he offer the 106,000 young people aged 16 and 17 who do not have a job, who are not in a training opportunity and are not in full-time education?

Photo of James Paice James Paice Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

If the hon. Gentleman is going to bandy about statistics, I suggest that he finds out the truth behind those statistics. He will find that the supposed figure of 106,000 includes people who are in full-time education, whom we have never considered to be unemployed. It includes all those who are disabled and on special programmes. It includes a range of people who are not classified as unemployed. The Government have done more to provide alternative options for young people than any previous Government. With national vocational qualifications now providing vocational opportunities, and the development of general national vocational qualifications, modern apprenticeships and accelerated modern apprenticeships, there is plenty of opportunity for young people.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

If we accept the figure that was given by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), and if one in five of those in youth training fail to find jobs, does it not mean that there is an 80 per cent. success rate? If that is the case, is it not a good position from which to go forward?

Photo of James Paice James Paice Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

My hon. Friend is exactly right. The reverse of any negative is a positive. Eighty per cent. of young people completing youth training, further education or training have a job within six months. That is a high success rate. We are aiming for even more. With the development of youth credits and of modern apprenticeships, we are opting for even better than that.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

The Minister's platitudes will carry little encouragement for young people. I remind him of one statistic about the long-term unemployed, many of whom are young people. In 1979, before the memory-retention span of the Secretary of State for Employment, 340,000 people were long-term unemployed. This year, 1 million people have been unemployed for longer than one year. I know that the Government do not want to rush into anything, but, after 15 years, how long will it take to reach anywhere near the level of long-term unemployment which they inherited 15 years ago?

Photo of James Paice James Paice Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

For the 16 to 25-year-old group—the group which the substantive question is about—we have now put into place a range of opportunities. For those in that group who are long-term unemployed, we are running pilot programmes called 1–2–1 and Workwise, both of which so far have demonstrated considerable improvements in the ability to obtain work. That is satisfactory progress which we are monitoring extremely closely.