asked the Minister of Labour how many school leavers there will be in Central West Fife at the end of the current school year; and how many vacancies exist for them now at the local employment exchanges.
About 335 boys and 350 girls. On 5th July there were at the local Youth Employment Offices 59 notified vacancies for boys, plus an unspecified number of vacancies with the National Coal Board, and 81 for girls.
Does not the Minister recognise that this reveals a deplorable situation in which the prospects for boys and girls in this area are certainly worse than the average of the United Kingdom and worse than for Scotland as a whole? Can he give any hope that there will be some amelioration of the situation very soon? Does he recognise that boys and girls in their tender adolescent years are having to leave these areas for the Midlands and the South and that parents are desperately anxious that the Government should do something about it?
I appreciate the hon. Member's concern and I am sure that he realises that he is not the only one to have that concern. It might be some comfort to him to know that, despite the figures which have been given, all but five of the 561 Easter school leavers were working by mid-May. It is therefore possible to misinterpret the figures which I have just given. If one looks back on the recent history, one finds that practically all the school leavers found employment in the area. But I realise his anxiety, all the same. Perhaps he would like to know that the National Coal Board, for example, the Royal Naval Dockyard and the Central Electricity Board, and so on, are all arranging to increase their intake of young people.
Is the Minister aware that all hon. Members are not only concerned about whether these young people obtain employment. We are very much concerned about the kind of employment which they obtain. The graph shows that there is nothing like sufficient of them obtaining skilled work or work which requires technical training of any type.
I appreciate the general problem of the area and we are doing our best about it. It is, of course, true that if some travel to work can be accepted the prospects of a range of employment, as well as mere employment, are very much wider.