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School Leavers (Apprenticeships)

Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 12 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a further statement on the prospects for those leaving school this summer so far as apprenticeships and other training opportunities are concerned; and whether there is any prospect of an increase in training facilities commensurate with the large increase in school leavers.

Preliminary reports covering the first few months of this year—and I must emphasise their provisional nature—which I have received from the Youth Employment Service indicate that the number of apprenticeships and learnerships is keeping pace with the substantial increase in the number of school leavers starting work.

While welcoming that reply, may I ask the Minister whether he will make a further statement before the House rises for the Summer Recess bearing in mind that we shall rise about the time that a great number of these school leavers will be leaving school? Will he bear in mind the great anxiety on both sides of the House about this, particularly in such areas as Scotland and the North-East Coast, where local unemployment is likely to aggravate the problem and to prevent training places from being found for these young people?

I emphasised in my Answer the preliminary nature of these reports. I do not want to mislead the House, but frankly I am relieved that the reports which I am receiving from every region of the country are far more satisfactory than perhaps some of the critics thought they would be.

The Minister said that the reports which he is receiving from every region of the country are far more satisfactory than he expected. Does that apply to Scotland? In particular, does it apply to Lanarkshire, where unemployment is high, where the last pit closes tomorrow in one area and where many jobs are folding up this week-end?

It does not apply to Lanarkshire, but it applies to Scotland as a whole. We have to be very careful. I do not want to mislead the House and I prefer to wait until I can give sound figures, but my general impression, which I thought the House would like, is that we are getting on with this job rather better than some people feared.

In considering the figures from different areas, will the Minister take a special look at what is being done in the Wakefield area to see whether that might provide a lesson as to how training opportunities can be improved in other areas within the existing framework?

My hon. Friend has already discussed this matter with me. The example set by the Wakefield area is one from which all of us could benefit.