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Youth Employment Service (Report)

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 14 December 1965

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With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement.

Under the Chairmanship of Lady Albemarle, a Working Party set up by the National Youth Employment Council in January 1964 has been considering the future development of the Youth Employment Service in the light of recent developments in education and the changing needs of industry. The Working Party's Report is published today. On behalf of the Government, I wish to thank Lady Albemarle and her colleagues for their very thorough examination of these problems, which are of such importance to young people and our national prosperity; and for producing so thoughtful and constructive a Report.

The Government accept the Report as providing valuable guide lines for the development of the Service over the next few years. The two major priorities are, clearly, staffing and staff training. As regards the former, the Government agree that more staff will be needed to enable the Service to meet the increasing demands which are being made on its officers, and that the progressive build-up of staff which has been a feature of recent years should be continued. I am proposing shortly to issue guidance on this matter to the local authorities concerned and to review the staffing needs of the Service in those areas where it is operated by my Department. As regards the training of staff, the Government accept the need for urgent action to extend the existing facilities for intensive in-service training, and I am proposing to set up a full-time Training Unit for this purpose under the direction of the Central Youth Employment Executive.

Before reaching a decision on recommendations whose implementation would require legislation, I propose to consult the interested local authority associations.

Is the Minister aware that we wish to be associated with his thanks to Lady Albemarle and her Committee for their Report? This Committee was set up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber). Has the Minister noticed that we on this side regard this whole subject as so important that we propose to expand the service, when we return to power, into a careers advisory service? The Minister will be aware that this Report has only just become available. Would he please answer this question? Does Lady Albemarle's Committee deal with the important problem of staff structure and promotional prospects?

The Report does contain a reference to that. I am fully aware that the Working Party was set up by the previous Administration. As to the present Youth Employment Service being expanded into a careers advisory service. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was quoting from "Putting Britain Right Ahead". I forestalled him a little. I agree, and always have agreed, that there is a need for vocational guidance and such facilities for persons over 18 years. I am tackling this problem now in two ways. Early next year we are starting an experimental occupational guidance scheme for adults, which will operate initially in 11 areas. I also intend to consult the interested local authority associations about raising the upper age limit for the Youth Employment Service, in view of educational developments, particularly in view of the higher school leaving age.

Is the Minister of Labour aware that my party also would like to welcome the Report and thank the Committee? Since the Government accept the need for urgent action, would it be fair to ask when he proposes to set up the full-time training unit? Would he think it would be fairly soon?