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NSoA visit to Parliament for the launch of the APPG on Students

Thursday 12-03-2015 - 12:35

Last year I became one of the first ever members of the National Society of Apprentices leadership team.

This is a guest blog by Brad Hackett from the National Society of Apprentices Leadership Team.

The NSoA is a free democratic membership body open to any organisation that employs or trains apprentices. The society was launched in National Apprenticeship Week 2014 and now has over 130 providers and employers representing 150,000 apprentices across the UK.

As part of the leadership team I was invited to the launch of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on students at the houses of parliament.

The APPG on Students is a new group which has been established to increase engagement between Parliament and students and to increase understanding amongst parliamentarians about the issues which students care about and are campaigning on.

This was an exciting opportunity for myself and a few other apprentices in the leadership team to meet with members of parliament and people in the NUS and tell them about the NSoA.

A few days before I went, I got in contact with my local MP and invited him along, I was delighted when he replied to say he could!

The meeting itself wasn’t until late afternoon so I had all day to get into London and meet the rest of the NSoA team that were attending. I dusted of my suit and tie and headed of on the train from my local station.

Halfway through the train journey to London an announcement came over the P.A system to my horror. It said that there was a problem further down the line and our arrival time had been delayed quite considerably, it was going to be a rush to make it to parliament in time. Fortunately the delay was not as bad as first feared, I arrived at Westminster station and walked up the steps and to my relief Big Ben was saying that I had a few minutes to spare – panic over.

I made my way to the Cromwell Green entrance to Westminster palace and proceeded through security, I then walked to the room where the event was being held, taking into account the stunning architecture within the building, you could really feel the history and tradition within the building.

When I arrived at the room there was lots of people standing around and chatting, there was tea and cakes and sandwiches on offer and people helped themselves whilst we waited for Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, to open proceedings by welcoming us all and talking about the APPG. Paul set up and chairs the APPG.

We then heard from a few other people including Toni Pearce who is the president of NUS. After the talks we were then able to walk around and talk to the various MP’s that were at the event. Myself and the rest of the NSoA leadership team that were in attendance took this opportunity to tell people why we were there. We talked about things that the NSoA are campaigning on - Developing a new apprenticeships quality mark, Statutory Sick pay for all apprentices, Extending care2learn childcare provision to apprentices, The Apprentice Minimum Wage & Quality training for all apprentices.

I also spoke with my local MP about the travel costs and statutory sick pay issues. He agreed to speak with Department for Business (which oversees policy on apprenticeships) to raise the issues with them. I am waiting to hear back from him but even raising the awareness of the struggles apprentices face Is a good thing.

As the meeting ended I was invited to visit the House of Commons chamber, this is where Members of Parliament meet to discuss legislation, to hold the Government to account and debate issues that concern them or their constituents. I was very lucky to be able to see this even if the debate I witnessed wasn’t a particularly thrilling one.

I came away from London feeling that the day was a success and that students and apprentices now have a way in which they can speak to the people that make the decisions about the issues that matter to us.

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