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Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of people currently registered as unemployed in the city of Birmingham; what was the number 12 months ago; and how many of these were and are under the age of 18 years.

Between April 1977 and April 1978, the total numbers registered as unemployed in the city of Birmingham fell from 38,433 to 36,014. At January 1978, however, the latest date for which figures by age are available, there were 3,337 people under 18 years of age unemployed, compared with 3,216 a year earlier.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply, but can he tell us what contribution the various Government Departments operating in the City of Birmingham have made to the employment of young people, school-leavers, and so on, as trainees? Can he give an assurance that these Government Departments will respond to all the exhortations and injunctions issued by the Government to private employers in respect of the employment and training of young people?

There have been difficulties with the trade unions in the public sector with regard to support for the work experience programme and, as Ministers, we appeal to them to give support.

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why the skillcentres in Birmingham and the Midlands are not filling about 20 per cent. of their places despite heavy advertising? Will he take into account the fact that incentives to young people to acquire skills are not great enough to attract them to this necessary work, which is the basis for the expansion of business in due course?

The skillcentres are for adults rather than young people. There is no shortage of young people wanting to take up apprenticeships. The short answer is that the engineering industry, unfortunately, is not attractive enough at present to people in this country.