Oral Answers to Questions — New Deal for Young People

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Beard Mr Nigel Beard Labour, Bexleyheath and Crayford 12:00 am, 26th April 2001

What assessment he has made of the involvement of different sectors of the economy in the new deal for young people. [157915]

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (New Deal and for Women), The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The new deal has helped to cut long-term unemployment among young people by nearly 80 per cent. over the past four years. It is now the lowest for a generation, and a strong and stable economy has enabled businesses to create well over 1 million new jobs

The intensified training provided by the new deal is designed according to the demands of employers. New dealers will increasingly move into sectors where skill shortages have been a problem for businesses seeking to grow. For example, we are working with leading information technology companies through Ambition IT, which will enable 5,000 more unemployed people to train as computer technicians. Ambition Retail, a consortium of major high street shops, allows the possibility of 50,000 more jobs, and further jobs to come. Transco is recruiting at least 15,000 new dealers to train as gas fitters over the next few years.

The new deal is providing solutions for industry and jobs with prospects for unemployed people.

Photo of Mr Nigel Beard Mr Nigel Beard Labour, Bexleyheath and Crayford

I have seen an excellent example of the way in which the new deal is working for both 16 to 25-year-olds and those over 25 in Bexleyheath and Crayford, and I know of the number and variety of doors that have been opened. Thameside, in the London borough of Bexley, has some of the greatest potential for business development in London, and the Thames gateway partnership is aimed at attracting new employers to the area. Will the new national network of training organisations be able to provide for the skills that employers may require, so that local people may retrain and benefit from the new opportunities that will arise?

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (New Deal and for Women), The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

That is precisely the intention of the combined efforts of national training organisations, learning and skills councils and the new deal. I hope very much that those opportunities will be extended to my hon. Friend's constituents and to the employers whom he mentions, but they should be under no illusion: were the Tories to be elected, the new deal would be scrapped.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The Minister could more accurately say that the new deal would be improved under the next Conservative Government. She knows that about a third of young people leaving the new deal go into jobs, and that half of them have lost those jobs within nine months. The record of the Wildcat Corporation in New York is 86 per cent. going into jobs, 94 per cent. of whom are still in them after 12 months. Now that the new deal taskforce has spent £175,000 taking advice from Wildcat, what has she learned about the reasons for the new deal failing to achieve the results that are achieved by Wildcat and that will be achieved by "Britain works" under the next Conservative Government?

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department for Education and Employment) (New Deal and for Women), The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. We hear more invented figures with the purpose of discrediting the new deal, a programme that has halved long-term unemployment among young people and which the Conservatives are pledged to scrap. We are taking lessons from Wildcat because that is important in trying to develop more help for the most disadvantaged young people, especially the ambitious, sectorally focused, high skill programmes that I have already identified.