Skip to main content

Technologically Advanced Industries

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 23 January 1979

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to create employment in technologically advanced industries.

Success in achieving the objectives of the industrial strategy, for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry has overall responsibility, should help provide an economic climate in which new jobs in the technologically advanced industries can be generated. The Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission are ensuring that the appropriate employment and training services are contributing towards the success of the strategy.

Is the Minister aware that skilled engineers, particularly in the aerospace industry, who have found themselves particularly hard hit by the Government's incomes policy, are hardly likely to throw their hats in the air over that reply? Will he at least give a categorical assurance that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and all his Department fully support the Prime Minister's determination to sell the Harrier aircraft to China? This will create technologically advanced jobs in British industry. Will the Minister say what he is doing to bring that to fruition?

The answer to the first question is "Yes". The other question is a matter for other Departments.

Is not the corollary of creating employment in technologically advanced industries that employment in the more traditional and labour-intensive industries will decline and that, overall, there will be a decline in demand for employment, particularly in manufacturing industry?

We believe that it is absolutely essential to develop technology in order to cerate wealth, from which services and jobs can be provided elsewhere within the community.

Is it not the case that many employers, even with today's unemployment figures, cannot find men with sufficient skills for the jobs they are able to offer? Does the Minister recognise that, unless differentials are altered to reward skills, the situation will get even worse?

All the examination that I have made of what I recognise as a special problem of skill shortage leads me to believe that differentials are not the most important aspect of the question. The most important aspect is the insecurity felt by many craftsmen and technicians in the engineering industry compared with jobs in other occupations.

How many extra jobs does my hon. Friend think will be necessary to offset the effects of silicon chip technology during the next five years?