§ 7. Mr. Hannan
asked the Minister of Labour what proportion of Scottish boys 185 in the past two years have taken unskilled employment as their first occupation since leaving school.
§ Mr. Hannan
Will the Minister make closer inquiry of the Scottish Office and the youth employment officers in Scotland, when he will find that the proportion is extremely high and provides startling evidence of the need not only for employment but for training? Since his Industrial Training Council seems to be bursting with inactivity, will the Minister please take action and interview the youth employment officers, the Careers Council, the trade unions and employers with a view to getting a move on?
§ Mr. Heath
We already obtain a lot of information about the jobs into which young people go, for example, whether they are apprenticeships or whether they lead to professional qualifications, but we do not have the information which would enable us to break down all the other employments into which young people enter; that is, whether the jobs are skilled or lead in the end only to unskilled employment. I do not believe that the great majority go into dead-end jobs. The I.T.C. is not a Government organisation, but is set up jointly by the employers and the trade unions.
§ Mr. Lawson
Does the Minister not agree that it is disturbing that we cannot get this sample information? Does he not feel that if he cannot give my hon. Friend this information, it is about time he was able to give it? We know about the apprentices and learners, but there is also a large category of boys who are not classified. Surely, it is time that we knew what was happening to these boys. Does not the Minister agree?
§ Mr. Heath
When one is getting detailed information of this kind, one has also to consider the amount of trouble and work involved in getting it. It is comparatively easy to get information about apprenticeships or employment leading to recognised professional qualifications, but to break down all the rest of the employments into the degree of skill which they involve is a very big operation.
§ 8 and 9. Mr. Willis
asked the Minister of Labour (1) the number of boys in Scotland who will be seeking employment for the first time during 1960; and what steps are being taken to ensure that employment will be available;
(2) what special steps he is taking to overcome the unemployment problem among Scottish boys.
§ Mr. Heath
It is estimated that in Scotland 31,000 boys will be seeking employment for the first time this year. This is slightly less than in 1959. The employment prospects for school leavers will depend largely on the general employment situation which, I am glad to say, has improved significantly in Scotland in recent weeks.
§ Mr. Willis
Is the Minister aware that, when making a correct comparison with the same period last year, the improvement is not so good? Is he also aware that there is widespread anxiety in Scotland concerning the employment of youths who will leave school during the next two or three years? Is he also aware that there is widespread fear that what the Government are doing is nowhere near good enough? Will the right hon. Gentleman impress upon his Government colleagues the urgent necessity to do far more than is being done to provide employment?
§ Mr. Heath
Between February and April, there has been a fall of over 15,000 in the number of unemployed in Scotland. That is a drop of from 4.7 to 4 per cent., which is encouraging. The future of these young people depends upon the amount of employment which is available. That is why the Government have included areas covering 61 per cent. of the insured working population of Scotland in the development districts to give inducements to industry to go there. If the hon. Member and his friends want the Government to take more vivid or violent action, the only way in which it can be done is by compelling firms to go to these areas. We are not prepared to do that.
§ Mr. Prentice
Despite the improvement of which the Minister speaks, is it not a fact that Scotland has 3,000 unemployed boys under the age of 18 and 1,500 unemployed girls under that age? Will the right hon. Gentleman answer 187 a question similar to the one which his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary refused to answer just now: when the school leavers increase in number next year and increase still more in 1962, will not the existing serious situation become desperate? What special steps will be taken by the Government to deal with those in the special areas in Scotland?
§ Mr. Heath
It will not become a desperate situation. One must not take merely the numbers of young people leaving school and add them to the number who will not secure employment. At the same time, a considerable number of people will be leaving employment for retirement and other reasons and their places have to be filled,, The question of the "bulge" confronts the whole country. The way in which young people will get work is by having an economy which can provide it for them. That means persuading industry to go to Scotland. The whole of the efforts of my right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Scotland and of myself have been devoted to trying to persuade firms to go to Scotland to provide employment.