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Youth Training

Volume 201: debated on Tuesday 14 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to initiate an immediate programme of youth training in Crewe and Nantwich.

The hon. Lady calls for the Government to "initiate" an "immediate programme" of YT in Crewe and Nantwich. She will be interested to learn that in the past year the proportion of 16-year-olds in Crewe participating in full-time education and training has risen from 71 to 80 per cent. That seems pretty "immediate" to me.

Moreover, the South and East Cheshire training and enterprise council is currently spending £5·5 million on youth training—a sum infinitely larger than that spent in the area by the previous Labour Government, of which the hon. Lady was such a notable adornment.

In reply to a written question, the Minister told me yesterday that 55 per cent. of school leavers in the South and East Cheshire training and enterprise council area are going straight into youth training. He will also know that we have had a 47 per cent. rise in unemployment in my constituency in one year. Would he like to try to justify that to the young people who have no jobs and no hope of any being created under the present Government?

Unemployment is a fact and we deplore it. The hon. Lady's question, however, concerns youth training and implies that no youth training is available in her constituency. Her reference to my earlier answer shows that there is extensive provision of youth training in her constituency, on a far larger scale than ever before, and that people in her constituency are taking advantage of it.

Was it not a Front-Bench spokesman of the party of which the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) is a member who promised the 1990 Labour party conference that Labour would abolish youth training altogether?

The Labour party's record on youth training—and, indeed, on the whole range of training initiatives which have have come from the Government in the past decade—is deplorable. Opposition Members, especially those associated with trade unions which have been boycotting our training efforts, would do well to recognise that.

Is it not clear from the figures for Crewe, and from the naional figures which show that nearly 100,000 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are still looking for training places, that the Government are failing our school leavers? What sort of future are the Government building for a generation of school leavers who will go from school to the dole queue?

I do not accept the picture that the hon. Gentleman paints. Hundreds of thousands of young people are on YT, and doing increasingly well on YT in terms of qualifications and of jobs on emerging from it. We are monitoring the position on the YT guarantee, to which we are firmly committed, and we are making additional resources available as and where necesary. We have not had a request for additional resources for YT in South and East Cheshire; there does not seem to be pressure in that area. We are sticking by the YT guarantee—an important guarantee which never existed in the days of the Labour Government.