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School Leavers

Volume 901: debated on Sunday 2 March 1975

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now take further action to help the employment prospects of school leavers and to improve training facilities.

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the present number of school leavers still without a job.

40, 402 school leavers under the age of 18 were registered as unemployed on 13th November 1975. The question of further action to help school leavers will be considered when we can assess the impact of the measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 24th September.

I unreservedly welcome the recent further fall in the number of unemployed school leavers, but does the Minister accept that there are strong indications, particularly among young women in the North-West, that there is still substantial unemployment among those who left school in the last 18 months, and that this goes unrecorded in the official figures?

Of course we are concerned about the unemployment figures, but of the 500,000 children who left school in July only 40,000 have not now found jobs. We regard that figure as still too high, and hope that schemes like the school leaver recruitment subsidy will substantially affect these figures shortly.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the speed with which applications from local authorities and others under the school leaver job creation scheme are being dealt with?

Local authorities have made a very good response, and we have approved 178 projects, creating 3,000 new jobs. This is a pretty rapid response to the initiative of the Government and the Manpower Services Commission.

Will the Minister now answer the Question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold)? The situation in the North-West is not as good as that in other parts of the country, so could he or his right hon. Friend make particular reference to this region, to reduce the number of school leavers who are still unemployed?

I recognise that this region has possibly the greatest problem of any region in respect of school leavers, but it has been made a special development area and we hope that the measures that we have already announced, together with extra training facilities, and so on, will have a substantial effect on these young people's prospects.

Is my hon. Friend aware that these measures have had no substantial effect on the unemployment of school leavers on Merseyside, many hundreds of whom face a very dismal and bleak future? Will he take special and specific action in this region to ensure that these children have a prosperous employment future?

I accept that some of the prospects of young people in the North-West and Merseyside are grim, but they would have been very much worse if measures introduced by this Government had not been implemented. They have not been in operation for very long and I think it would be better to wait for a month or two to see how they work.

Is it not a fact that young people who left school, had a job for only a week or two and then became unemployed, are not included in the unemployed school leavers' figures? Is it not inaccurate to suggest that only 40,000 of the 500,000 school leavers of July are still looking for a job, because the 40,000 relates to those who have never had jobs? Many others are now unemployed. Will the Minister give an indication of the size of the youth unemployment problem?

It is true that some young people who left school and then lost their jobs will not be shown in the figures. I have tried to give figures which are properly comparable with those of previous years, and there has been a record reduction in the number of school leavers unemployed in the last two months.