Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, with leave of the house I should like to make a statement on commonwealth technical training week, which begins today. The idea of holding a special week to focus attention on the importance of education and training, particularly the technical form of training, originated with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. This week is being observed simultaneously in Great Britain and many other countries of the commonwealth.
As a first step in arranging for this week, I consulted with the premiers of the provinces, and early this year I called a meeting in Ottawa which was attended by representatives of the federal and provincial governments, labour, management, and a number of national organizations. The idea received complete endorsement.
At the national meeting, five broad objectives for a commonwealth technical training week were adopted. The first is to try to create more public awareness of the excellent career opportunities which exist in the technical and vocational fields. There is still, among an ever decreasing minority, I am glad to say, a tendency in this country to think of the "white collar" occupations as being more desirable, even though many of them demand less education and training than do many of the skilled and technical jobs. We must give the technical and vocational careers their proper place of importance.
The second objective is to stimulate more apprenticeship and other in-plant training programs. There are not enough programs of this kind now in existence, although where they are they have proved their worth both in Canada and other countries.
The third objective is to convince young people of the necessity of planning a career and of staying in school until graduation, seeking training which will fit them for the modern demands of advanced technology. Present rates of drop-outs from school reveal that 70 per cent of students entering grade 11 of elementary school will have left before 90205-6-347i
they get their junior matriculation. This is a serious matter when viewed in relation to the widespread reduction, since world war II, of unskilled and semi-skilled occupations through the introduction of more and better machines and more efficient methods.
The fourth objective is to encourage adults to upgrade their skills and increase their education, and to stimulate the establishment of more adult education and training programs. There is a reluctance on the part of adults to take advantage of available facilities, as illustrated by the fact that less than 5 per cent of unemployed persons apply for the training in programs operated in a number of the provinces.
The fifth objective of the week is to bring together industry and the schools so there can be a greater understanding of each other's needs. The rapidly changing patten of employment and occupations makes it essential that industry and the schools develop closer co-operation so that more courses can be vocationally oriented.
All these broad objectives, I realize, cannot be reached during one short week; but if public attention is drawn to them, and more people in positions of leadership at all levels, national, provincial and municipal, become aware of the need for positive planning and action to reach these objectives, then this commonwealth technical training week will have been worth while.
It was agreed at the federal-provincial planning meeting that each province would organize the observance of the week within its own jurisdiction. The federal government will provide assistance in the way of pamphlets and posters for the schools, along with film material for the schools and television, as well as generally assisting in organizing some national publicity for the objectives of the week.
All these plans give full respect to the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces in respect to education. This has been worked out, and each province has organized a variety of methods for bringing attention to the objectives of the week. Special pamphlets are being distributed through the secondary schools to each student to point out the need for young people remaining in school to get as much education and training as possible before seeking their first job. It is expected that the fundamental message, namely the need of action will be carried to young
people and their parents. Through the cooperation of press, radio and television, I hope the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the C.C.F. will join me in approval of what is being done and what is being attempted this week not only in our own country but in the United Kingdom and in various countries of the commonwealth.
Subtopic: ANNOUNCEMENT OF COMMONWEALTH TECHNICAL TRAINING WEEK