Below is the text of the speech made by Tom King, the then Secretary of State for Employment, in the House of Commons on 1 July 1985.
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on youth training.
My right hon. Friend 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 1 April next year and to report to me in three months.
On 27 June 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 authorised the commission to proceed with implementation, within the resource levels previously announced and on the planned date of 1 April.
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. This will be building on the foundations laid by the current youth training scheme, which more than three quarters of a million young people have entered so far. The youth training scheme has opened new horizons for 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 organisations 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 organisations will be able to take part, after they have satisfied criteria drawn up by the Manpower Services Commission, and a new training standards advisory service will be set up to monitor the quality of the training provided. Trainees will be paid an allowance of £27–30 per week in the first year and £35 per week in the second year.
A basic grant of £160 per month will be payable in respect of each trainee to his training provider. There will be a managing agent’s fee of £110 per annum.
We recognise 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 £110 per month per trainee will be paid in such cases to those providing alternative training.
In approving that broad framework I have approved an increase in the existing trainee allowance to £27·30 with effect from the beginning of September this year, as recommended by the commission.
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.