Ensuring our young people get the best opportunities in life is vital and it is important that no career choices should are closed off to them, according to Alex Cunningham, who is encouraging young people across Stockton to consider applying for the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme before the deadline on 17 June 2016.
The MP for Stockton North acknowledged that it is still hard to get into a wide range of “establishment” industries – such as the media, law and financial services – and recognised that Parliament is also widely perceived as being one of those occupations.
The Labour MP admitted that it certainly used to be the case that politics was dominated by those who came from upper-class families, went to private schools and mixed in the same social circles. Getting a foot in the door in Parliament was, too often, the result of well-connected parents putting their children in touch with friends and colleagues.
However, this has changed over the years and the Labour Party has been key to that, with many former Scheme participants having gone on to work with MPs while others have secured permanent jobs in the private sector or used the Scheme as a springboard to roles more widely in Parliament.
“It is vital that Parliament more accurately reflects the people it serves so we can create laws that truly make a meaningful difference to people’s lives. The Labour Party was founded by working people and I am proud to see amongst my colleagues in the House of Commons former miners, teachers, healthcare workers, a postal worker, a soldier and carers.
“However, getting onto the first rung on the ladder that leads to a job in politics can be difficult. In the past, there was a culture of unpaid internships where those who had financial support would offer to work for free for MPs. This would then give them the experience they needed to get a permanent job in politics.
“Fortunately this is now changing. And key to this change are schemes such as the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme which offers internships in MPs’ offices, paid at the living wage, to people who would not normally get that kind of opportunity.
“The scheme is a great way to open up Parliament and make politics accessible to everyone. If you’ve ever harboured a dream of working in politics, or want to learn more about how Parliament works, I urge you to find out more about the Scheme and consider applying before the deadline on June 17th.”