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Training Schemes (Funding)

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 26 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will review the arrangements for the funding of training schemes.

Funding arrangements of training schemes are kept constantly under review.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend join me in congratulating the many people who have worked hard to make a success of our employment training schemes? I acknowledge that some of the schemes may now qualify for fewer places as unemployment falls, but does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that that should not be the case in respect of disabled people and others with special needs? Will he ensure that, as the TECs formulate their plans, they will be required to provide funding for the adequate training of those people?

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating those who provide training places and to give him the assurance for which he asks. The guarantee of a training place for every 16 to 18-year-old school leaver who cannot find a job and for the longer-term unemployed and other priority groups remains in place. We are committed to that guarantee and it applies, in particular, to people who are disabled and have special needs. I confirm that the arrangements that we are making with the training and enterprise councils take full account of the requirement to meet those needs and discharge those responsibilities.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman examine some of the problems that have been thrown up by cuts in training budgets? For example, in Truro, trainees in information technology have been thrown off the course half way through and have not attained the qualifications for which they were half-trained. Similarly, special groups which have been trained by voluntary bodies—such as refugees, who clearly have special training needs—are finding that the number of places has been cut.

The hon. Gentleman will find that all those to whom he has referred have alternative facilities available to them so that they will not be disadvantaged. In ensuring that the taxpayer gets full value for money, and thus looking critically to ensure that the most cost-effective and efficient training is provided, we are absolutely clear that none of those in receipt of training should be disadvantaged in any way.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that, by increasing the training budget no less than threefold in real terms since 1979 and by providing 450,000 places on employment training, the Government have allowed the resources to be used more effectively through the training and enterprise councils? Will he also confirm that the TECs will be able to change the current rule under which victims of widespread redundancies cannot enter into employment training schemes for 26 weeks?

My hon. Friend is right to point to the exciting future in training that the training and enterprise councils will be able to provide. They will, of course, have greater flexibility in dealing with those who suffer as a result of large-scale redundancies. But that is only one respect in which they will be able to provide improved training.