§ Mr. Barry Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his Department's policy of encouraging high schools in Wales to develop links with businesses.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
It is important that there should be effective links between schools and business so that young people have the opportunity to experience the world of work and learn about the career choices available to them, and business has a workforce better prepared and equipped to meet its needs.
We have a range of activities designed to improve communications between schools and industry and to encourage enterprise activities in schools. The Technical and Vocational Education Initiative has proved successful and is being extended to all schools and colleges. The GCSE examination has an emphasis on learning by experience and the certificate of pre-vocational education also assists in the transition from school to adulthood and the world of work. The new national curriculum has as one of its main aims the preparation of pupils for adult life and work. Businessmen also have the opportunity to become governors of schools and colleges.
Each local education authority in Wales has an officer responsible for education/industry links and there is evidence of increasing interest in organisations at the local level working to develop partnerships between education and industry.
In addition, we now have a network of enterprise and education advisers whose purpose is to market to employers the benefits of links with schools and persuade them to become involved. Also, in the context of my valleys programme, I have met with the chairmen of the education committee and director of education of each of the five valleys LEAs to discuss ways of improving links between schools and industry. Positive action has already been taken and I hope to have further meetings in the near future.