The students summer jobs scheme operated this year from 1 June to 30 September during which period approved students were allowed to undertake 200 hours work at £3 per hour, giving a possible total maximum payment of £600. The primary aim of the scheme is to provide financial help to less well-off students who are unable to get summer work and who are not entitled to claim unemployment assistance during the summer holiday period. I am conscious of the good work accomplished under this scheme and of the valuable experience it has given to many students.
I am also conscious, however of the fact that employment opportunities in the wider economy have increased significantly in recent years and that there are greater possibilities for summer work as a result. An increase in pay levels under the scheme could have the effect of discouraging students from taking up other jobs where the supply of labour is tight. I will be reviewing the scheme in the light of this year's experience to determine if any adjustment or refocussing is required for the future. In doing so I will also have regard to the demands of the labour market generally and the need to encourage an adequate supply of labour particularly during the busy summer months.
Question No. 760 taken with Questions Nos. 752, 766, 784 and 806.