§ Mr. Hordern
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will arrange that premium grants should be paid to employers who took on apprentices in anticipation of an award from the Road Transport Industry Training Board, and who had informed the Board that they had done so.
§ Mr. Golding
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that, following the Road Transport ITB's assessment of its industry's long-term skill needs and the likely level of apprentice recruitment in 1977–78, the Board made available 4,000 premium grants, wholly funded by the Commission, to encourage employers to engage extra apprentices to meet the shortfall. The Board is responsible for allocating the grants and it informed the industry that its number was limited. The Board sub54W sequently asked the Commission for funds to pay additional premium grants because apprentice recruitment by end-January 1978 was likely to be 2,000 above its earlier assessment. While welcoming higher recruitment levels the Commission takes the view, which I share, that the 4,000 premium grants have met the scheme's objectives and that it would be inappropriate to make additional public funds available because employers' recruitment has exceeded the Board's estimate. Levy-funded grants for approved apprentice training are, however, available to employers, and it is for the Board to consider in the light of its policies whether to supplement these.