5pm today is the deadline for submitting ideas to Interactivism – Young People’s Hack Weekend. Continuing on our theme of helping young people find work, today’s guest blog is by Simon Bunney from New Deal of the Mind, about their scheme to set up apprenticeships in the Houses of Parliament: The Parliamentary Academy.
Whilst MPs fall over themselves to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and businesses across the country, a quick look at their recruitment policies shows that they are often guilty of not listening to their own rhetoric.
Previously, the way to get a job in politics was to take an internship in an MP’s office. These opportunities were generally only available to university graduates and were also unpaid, meaning that the first rung of the ladder was only available to people from more privileged backgrounds.
To address this problem, New Deal of the Mind teamed up with a forward-thinking MP, Robert Halfon, and North Hertfordshire College to launch the first ever apprenticeship scheme in Parliament: The Parliamentary Academy.
The Parliamentary Academy offers non-graduate 18-24 year olds the opportunity to take up a paid, 10 month placement in an MP’s parliamentary office. They work in Parliament three days a week, whilst simultaneously studying for an NVQ Level 2/3 in Business & Administration.
A paid apprenticeship has the advantage of offering an educational element and formal qualification at the end of the scheme, as well as providing young people from non-traditional backgrounds the opportunity to work in Parliament. The combined elements of the scheme will therefore equip them with the skills they need to progress a career in politics.
The scheme embraces and encourages technology in several key ways, the most important being to increase access and awareness about jobs in politics. As alluded to earlier, MPs’ recruitment policies have sometimes been opaque and nepotistic, with selection based on who you know rather than on merit. However, The Parliamentary Academy uses social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to promote opportunities, allowing potential applicants to build a network of contacts in this field. One of the existing apprentices, who found out about the scheme through Twitter and is currently working for a Labour MP in Parliament, would never have discovered the opportunity had it not been for our use of social media (he is also lives in Hull and could not afford to do an unpaid internship in Parliament). Positions are also advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service, which is a website that displays all apprenticeship vacancies throughout the UK.
Technology has, therefore, democratised the process of recruitment and provided a much more level playing field for young people beginning a career in politics.
Having proficient web and technology skills also makes a big difference in the employability of young people who wish to work in Parliament. An MP’s office relies heavily on effective online communication and is increasingly seeing the importance of getting a message or announcement across to voters via the internet. Recent school leavers are likely to have the skills that MPs require and this is perhaps something that can separate them from other applicants. Being able to create a website, or even being able to upload articles on to blogs, are skills that are coveted by MPs.
The Parliamentary Academy begins recruitment for its second phase on the 20th February. For more information head to: http://www.parliamentaryacademy.com/