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Youth Training

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 26 June 1990

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12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the availability of youth training places in each local labour market.

My right hon. and learned Friend is satisfied that there are sufficient training places to meet demand.

How many training places for young people in the Wirral have been deliberately axed by Government policy? Will the Minister guarantee that every young person in the Wirral who wants a training place will have one?

I entirely accept the premise in the hon. Gentleman's comments. I repeat what I said a moment ago: my right hon. and learned Friend is satisfied that there are sufficient training places to meet demand. Those places must exist to meet the guarantee in the Wirral and elsewhere. Although particular trainers may not succeed in having their contracts renewed in successive years, that is entirely different from the guarantee not being met. If the hon. Gentleman knows of a case where a potential YTS trainee has not been satisfied by the guarantee, we want to know about it. Our concern in that respect at least is the same as the hon. Gentleman's.

Does my hon. Friend share my suspicion that much of the clamour for even more money to be spent on training, despite the amount having risen threefold since 1979, is union-inspired? After all, unemployment has dropped dramatically, the number of school leavers has decreased and trainers are desperately looking for customers. Is not it about time that we considered the amount of money that we are paying out?

It is a rather curious and conservative feature of the Opposition that they believe that no adjustment in training provision is necessary when there are fewer people to be trained. When we take account of the effects of demography, which means that there are fewer young people, and the fact that employers are prepared to take a greater share of the burden of training, we can certainly strike a better deal for the taxpayer and for the individual trainee.

Is not there a danger that the Minister is misleading my hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) and the House when he says that the Government can deliver the YTS guarantee? Is not the reality that the Government are cutting this year's youth training budget by 10 per cent? The outcome will be that the Government will either be unable to deliver the guarantee or will reduce the standard of training available to youngsters on youth training. The Minister must come clean: either the guarantee has been dropped or standards have been dropped. Which is it?

The yawning gap in the hon. Gentleman's thesis is that he does not accept that, increasingly, there are fewer young people to be trained. To be fair, that is not a mistake that the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) made earlier. Between 1988 and 1993 the guarantee group of young people between the ages of 16 and 19 will have decreased by about 20 per cent. It is complete nonsense to say that it matters not how many young people are available to be trained or by how much the numbers decrease, and that the training provision must remain the same. That is not a sensible use of taxpayers' money.