John Wellens The Training Bill - The Case for More Information FOU R MONTHS have now elapsed since the publication already, on a spot count, 123 national joint recruitment of the White Paper on Industrial Training; debates have and training schemes in operation at the moment? been held in both Houses. On the credit side has Why is the Ministry playing the game with the cards so appeared, basically, only one major change: we can close to its chest? There is everything to be gained from point to a definite acceptance, lamentably late in the day, a more open discussion. The debates in Parliament have of the need for a new attitude towards training. The been utterly non-informative. modern and more realistic attitude has, perhaps, been We hear a great deal about the need to reduce the best expressed by Lord Eccles in the Lords debate when period of apprenticeship but nothing about how this may he said: be accomplished in practice. Over the past year or so the "Education today is an article of production, Minister has been extremely active in trying to reduce this period in certain major industries, but he has had to something which has to be paid for in advance of the fall back on the time-wasting expedient of trying to growth of national output of which it is the chief persuade each industry through separate discussions. Is instrument. Here one sees the real difference from the he really proposing to change 123 agreed apprenticeship other social services, which can properly be regarded schemes by such a tortuous and long-winded procedure, as a fruit on the tree of prosperity; but education and or is there not some alternative ? training are the soil in which it grows." The acceptance of this proposition is fundamental. It Go deeper-has any statement been made on the is the first step for producing action, for one thing, and exact basis on which the present formal five-year period it establishes the right, previously contested, of the rests? It does not, apparently, rest on legal sanction. On Government to intervene in training, for another. And what does it rest? Presumably on no more than a strike let there be no mistake, the ready acceptance of this threat. Or would it be custom and practice? If the proposition is necessary before any other changes are latter, then we observe that custom and practice have even remotely possible. Apart from this, one can hardly moved first this way and then that over the past 200 describe the situation as satisfactory. The hallmark of years. What is so inviolate about the current custom and the present situation is that there is little or no informa practice in these circumstances ? Is it possible to legislate tion forthcoming from the Ministry. on this matter? Such questions may appear to be slightly naive, but they are absolutely fundamental to the The first requirement, now very urgent, is some present changes and they should be debated in public. statement on the size of the actual problem - a matter on They are not being ventilated at all. It could be that which we are all in the dark. We are even more in the official policy will say that these are matters for each dark about the scale of the provisions to be supplied individual board, but to advance this point of view is under the Bill. It is true that a sum of £10 million has equivalent to the Government saying that it is not been allocated by the Government in the coming prepared to face the matter openly. The Government financial year to develop industrial training, but this have stated that they are keeping training in their own cannot in any way be taken as a pointer to the scale of hands to give this lead. Government involvement. What we do not know is when a start will be made on the new system or, therefore, how May we have more information about what is going soon - or how late - this ten million will be drawn upon. on, please, Mr Minister? Industry, the colleges, the Presumably not immediately, since the Bill is not yet schools, the Youth Employment Service and a host of before Parliament. Correspondingly the allocation other bodies need to know in order to do their job applies, in reality, to a part-year and not to a full year. properly, what sort of a time schedule is proposed in Thus, without an actual time scale to which to relate it, connection with this Bill and its adoption. But normally the ten million itself discloses nothing about the scale of the Bill itself would contain no reference to the scale of the proposed financial support to be forthcoming from the problem, or the cost, or the problems associated the State. with the scheme. Is it envisaged that a separate statement on these and related matters will be made? And when? We are to have industrial boards for training. But how many? What proportion of the economy is to be And just one more niggling thought. On the 21st covered? And what is to happen to those industries for February 1963 the Council of Ministers of the Common whom boards are not to be provided? Market countries adopted the proposals put forward by the Commission for a common policy on occupational Within the meaning of the Act there would normally training and thus opened the way for the complete be about 123 boards. Lord Williamson, seeking reorganisation of occupational training on the Continent, information on this point, stated, within the next few years. Are we in danger of inaugurat "it would appear fantastic that separate boards should ing a British system which will have to be dismantled or be set up in each." seriously modified if we seek admission later to EEC? Why should this be so fantastic when there are Technical Education, May, 1963 215 © Emerald Backfiles 2007
Education + Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 1963
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