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Government Training Centres

Volume 656: debated on Monday 19 March 1962

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9.

asked the Minister of Labour how many classes for apprentices are now being provided at Government training centres; how many firms are participating; how many apprentices are attending.

There are 25 classes, with a membership of 287 apprentices coming from 175 firms.

Are not the figures still rather disappointing in that the number of apprentices attending, for example, has not even reached the original target figure of 300? In view of that and the immense amount of good that schemes of this kind can do, would the Minister not reconsider his decision to close two of these training centres and instead embark on a programme of expansion of these facilities?

No, Sir. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not trying to imply that any of the economies that I have made have in any way affected our programme for first-year training of apprentices, because they have not. These classes were set up to demonstrate the advantages of full-time training in the first year of apprenticeship. I think that they are very successful. Although the figures of boys are 13 lower, the orginal target of twenty-five classes has been achieved.

Although the closing of the Government training centres at Kidbrooke and Long Eaton may not have reduced the number of classes, if they had stayed open could not the Minister have extended these classes? In view of the important report on manpower of the N.J.A.C. Working Party, does not this emphasise the need for a still higher standard of training and cannot the Minister enlarge the training which is carried out by G.T.C.s?

I think that the report to which the hon. Gentleman referred did not apply only to the training of apprentices. It also went into the whole question of the training of adults. I am studying the proposition whether or not my Ministry might supply facilities if employers were prepared to pay. This is a subject that we are discussing. On the general point, the whole concept of my Ministry's first-year training courses was to set an example to show people in various parts of the country how this could be done properly and the benefit which concentrated training could give. I think that this is carrying out the purpose.

10.

asked the Minister of Labour how many classes are now being provided for apprentices at the Hilling-ton Government Training Centre; what kind of classes they are; how many firms are participating; and how many apprentices are attending.

There are two classes, both in engineering, with a membership of 24 apprentices coming from 15 firms. A third class in radio and electronic servicing is planned to open later in the year.

Are these not very low figures in view of the tremendous number of apprentices and potential apprentices in the Glasgow area? If, in the words of the Minister, these classes have been so successful, is not there a case for rapidly expanding them?

I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend has said. I have been to see them myself, as the hon. Member may know. These are intended as demonstration classes, and they are being increasingly successful. To change the concept to one of Government training instead of allowing the industry to do its own job in this field would be a very real change of policy.

Can the Minister indicate what percentage is attending out of the total number of apprentices who could attend if facilities were available for them? What steps does he intend taking in order that firms should be made to toe the line in the provision of facilities so that these centres could be made a success?

I cannot answer the first part of that supplementary question without notice. If I remember it aright, it had a hypothesis attached to it. As for the second part of the question, as the hon. Member knows, my right hon. Friend is paying great attention to the need for securing improvements in training for skill, including apprenticeships and also learnerships.