Mr Tom King, Secretary of State for Employment, announced in the Commons Government approval of the broad framework of the Manpower Services Commission proposals for the youth training scheme. This will mean a two-year scheme for more than 500,000 young people.
Mr King said that there would be a quality training programme leading to vocational qualifications with at least 20 weeks off-the-job training and work experience.
He said: The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget statement that he was making extra resources available which could fund a two year youth training scheme. On the same day I asked the Manpower Services Commission to consult and develop proposals for such a scheme to start from April 1 next year and to report to me in three months.
On June 27 the commission, which includes representatives from the CBI, local authorities, education interests and the TUC, unanimously approved proposals for the two year scheme. The chairman immediately submitted these to me and asked for the earliest possible approval.
I am pleased to inform the House that I have now approved the broad framework of these proposals and I have today authorized the commission to proceed with implementation, within the resource levels previously announced and on the planned date of April 1.
The proposals represent a major step forward in improving the opportunities for young people both in training and work experience. The scheme will give broad based training in the first year, with a greater emphasis on more specific training in the second year, with the opportunity for all to obtain a vocational qualification in the use of building websites.
This will be building on the foundations laid by the current youth training scheme, which more than 750,000 young people have entered so far.
The youth training scheme has opened new horizons for both young people and employers and has brought home to many the contribution which training can make to improving employability and productivity. I pay tribute to the work of all the individuals and organizations who have played their part in the development of the one year Youth Training Scheme.
The main features of the new scheme will be as follows:
There will be a quality training programme leading to vocational qualifications and there will be at least 20 weeks off-the-job training over two years, in addition to a planned programme of on-the-job training and work experience. There will be two years training for 16-year-old school leavers and one year for 17-year-old school leavers.
There will be a training agreement between the trainee and those responsible for his training setting out their respective rights and responsibilities, including the detail of each young person’s training programme.
From April 1987 only approved training organizations will be able to take part, and a new training scheme advisory service will be set up to maintain the quality of the training provided.
Trainees will be paid an allowance of pounds 27.30 per week in the first year and pounds 35 per week in the second year.
A basic grant of pounds 160 per month will be payable in respect of each trainee to their training provider. There will be a managing agent’s fee of pounds 110 per annum.
We recognize the special needs of some areas and some young people who may find it difficult to find employer-based training places and it is proposed that a premium payment of pounds 110 per month per trainee will be paid in such cases to those providing alternative training.
In approving this broad framework I have approved an increase in the existing trainee allowance to pounds 27.30 with effect from the beginning of September this year, as recommended by the Commission.
The degree of commitment to the present youth training scheme will be of a real help in carrying forward the new scheme. I am confident that all those concerned will once again work together to make the new scheme a success. The role of employers in providing the necessary places is crucial. The new scheme will involve a greater financial contribution from employers than the youth training scheme does at present. I know that they will recognize not only the challenge but also the opportunity that this new scheme will bring.
Under the new scheme, up to 200,000 more young people will be in training than under the existing youth training scheme bringing the total to over half a million in training at any one time. This will mean a major improvement in the opportunities for training and work experience for our young people and one that will become a permanent and essential feature of vocational education and training provision in this country.
Mr John Evans, an Opposition spokesman on employment, said young people had borne the brunt of the Government’s social security cuts and faced a crisis. Many young people report using medications to reduce stress.
Despite the massive Government propaganda exercise the youngsters on YTS simply did not believe they would get what they most wanted, a full time, permanent job at the end of the scheme.
YTS was not an attempt to provide a permanent bridge between school and work but was more a gangway to the dole gueue and a spin off from the YTS had been a dramatic reduction in apprenticeships.
A one year or even a two year scheme was not a proper replacement for a well planned three or four year apprenticeship scheme. The collapse of apprenticeships was causing the skill shortages which Mr King complained about.
Many employers were showing a marked reluctance to get involved in a two year scheme unless there was a big increase in Government money.
Parents, trade unionists and the Labour Party were not satisfied that enough had been put into health and safety cover for youngsters on YTS. There were too many unnecessary accidents. The Health and Safety Executive should be more involved. The allowances were a scandal.
Labour would welcome a comprehensive two year training scheme which included an education allowance, allowed academically gifted youngsters from poor homes to stay in higher education and guaranteed employment for most youngsters at the scheme’s end.
Mr King said Mr Evans’ response was sour. The announcement was good news for many young people leaving school. The response was particularly sour coming from the spokesman of a party which considered introducing such a scheme, then refused to approve it and would not put up the funds.
A sour attempt had been made to score political points and he (Mr King) was more impressed with the attitude of the TUC which unanimously supported the proposals. He took comfort from the comments by young people themselves on the YTS; all the evidence showed increasing support and increasing recognition of what the scheme could mean.
Mr Andrew Rowe (Mid Kent, C): There is a wide welcome for this development among all of us. We have had a farrago of nonsense from the Opposition. The engineering industries training board has pointed out their aim was to shorten apprenticeships not to four years but to about two and a half years and were working towards that.
For the Opposition to claim that somehow the scheme in place before was an improvement on what is now being attempted is nonsense.
Mr King: The Opposition spokesman’s comments about apprenticeships were those of people living in the old world and who need male enhancement pills like Extenze extended release. We want not a very limited number of people on a time-serving basis for one particular age group.
We want to open training to people of all ages and certainly to widen opportunities for young people. We want training not based on time serving but on the achievement of standards. That is the modern approach, for which I am delighted to have the support of the TUC.
Mr Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe, C): Can he give the latest figures for the percentage of those who on leaving the scheme continue in employment or further education?
Mr King: The overall figure for those going on into full-time jobs or back into further education or training is of the order of 70 per cent.
Mr David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill, L): How many are dropping out of the scheme? One figure was 56 per cent for one month.
Mr King: Those dropping out of the scheme go off into full time employment elsewhere.