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Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what percentage of boys leaving school took up apprenticeships in the last full year for which figures are available as compared with 1964.

42·6 per cent. in 1967 compared with 36·4 per cent. in 1964.

Can my hon. Friend say whether this very gratifying improvement is general throughout the economy, or are some industries lagging behind? If there are laggards, what steps are contemplated for improving their performance?

The improvement is general for those industries for which industrial training boards have already been created as a stimulus to such efforts. Two industries whose performances are not so gratifying—the clothing industry and the footwear and leather industry—will have industrial training boards formed in the near future, and we hope that they will then respond in the same way.

I welcome and recognise that this is evidence of the growing effectiveness of the Industrial Training Act, but is the hon. Member also aware of the need for moving away from the traditional concept of apprenticeship as a once-for-all training for life, and is he keeping a special watch on this?

I am conscious of that, and am also conscious of the progress in this field made by the Engineering Training Board, numerically the largest of the training boards. It is my right hon. Friend's wish that the progress that that has made should be reflected in other industries.