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Youth Opportunities Programme (Dundee)

Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1978

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the local employment consequences of the breakdown of the youth opportunities programme in Dundee.

I understand from the MSC that recruitment of young people to projects under the youth opportunities programme has been adversely affected by the strike of careers officers in Tayside. Nevertheless, about 400 places in such projects have been approved since the programme's inception in April and about 200 young people have been recruited to them. I am naturally concerned at the strike's impact on the recruitment of young people and I hope that an early settlement will be reached.

I am grateful for the interest that the Minister has taken in this matter. But does he realise that 640 young people on Tayside may be deprived of places under the youth opportunities programme because of this industrial dispute? Does he not know that the negotiations between the two sides seem to have broken down and that, as we are approaching the Christmas leaving date, the situation is critical? Will he, as a Minister, use his good offices to intercede and perhaps ask both sides to go to arbitration to have the matter settled as swiftly as possible?

First, I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman has got his figures right about the number of young people who are unemployed and who would take advantage of the scheme.

Secondly, ACAS has been in touch with the situation from the beginning of the dispute. It has maintained contact with the parties. It has already had a meeting with both sides. I do not think that any useful contribution can be made by Ministers making statements at the Dispatch Box. I think that the negotiations are going very properly and have not broken down. I regard the parties as being rather close to each other on this issue.

Does the Minister agree that it was highly disturbing to read in the report of the Manpower Services Commission last week that only one-third of young Scots people who retrain under the TOPS scheme get work in the skills for which they have been trained, as against two-thirds in the South-East? What does the Scottish Office propose to do to ensure that training is given in the proper skills and that jobs are available for those who are trained?

If the hon. Gentleman would care to put down a Question on that matter I shall answer it.