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Manpower Services Commission

Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he last met the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission.

I last met the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission on 24th April 1978.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that much as the youth opportunities scheme is welcome, there is very great fear that the complete insensitivity of the Manpower Services Commission to local needs is jeopardising the Government's objective of giving every young person some opportunity this year? Can he tell us when the MSC will issue specific guidelines to local authorities and voluntary organisations about how to set up co-operative schemes and when every local area in the country will have a local committee so that local needs can be taken into consideration?

I can tell my hon. Friend that guidelines and handbooks covering all parts of the youth opportunities programme are now available from the MSC's area offices. Many local authorities have already taken the initiative—which we welcome—in setting up local committees to assess needs and plan projects. It has always been our intention, in dealing with the Manpower Services Commission, that the area boards should be guided and should work in close co-operation with local area committees, since although there is a wide scope within the youth opportunities programme to institute various elements of the programme, it should be done in a way that is highly sensitive to local needs.

Has the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission explained to the Government how the Commission will overcome the shortage of trainers and instructors in order that the youth opportunities programme can get off the ground fully in September? Can he say how much information the Government have about the way in which the Commission is approaching employers for the use of their premises for training purposes?

With regard to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the MSC is funded to employ about 8,000 adults—preferably recruited from the ranks of the unemployed—to instruct and supervise in the youth opportunities programme. This relates to the second part of the question, because in trying to develop certain of the projects within employers' premises—particularly the work experience schemes—we have worked out with the MSC a number of direct approaches to employers as well as a general advertising campaign. We are hoping for a response that will enable the doubling of the present work experience element of the programme.

When my right hon. Friend next meets the chairman of the MSC, will he ask him why the television advertising and leaflets for the engineering training schemes depict only men, thereby giving the impression that only men may apply?

I certainly shall. It was not my intention that any advertising by the MSC should give the impression that there is a bias in favour of men.