May is a busy time in the Parliamentary year. We have the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen, laying out the government’s plans for the new session. Last year was of course the first time that I was involved in the pageantry and traditions of this splendid occasion, and I look forward to being there again this year. It has been a tradition since the 16th Century, and although it may seem antiquated to go through such complicated rituals, it is a reminder of the House of Commons’ independence from the monarchy. It is the only regular occasion when the three constituent parts of Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet, and is great fun to watch!
Most of the time however, being an MP is not about rituals and ceremony, but is about working as hard as I can on behalf of my constituents. One area of political work which is largely unseen is the work of the All Party Parliament Groups. These are voluntary groups which bring together politicians from all parties, from both the Commons and the Lords, who have a shared interest in a particular topic. Many are country specific, and are to encourage and develop links with other countries and their parliaments. Others are subject specific, and range across a wide spectrum from Aerospace through Metal Theft to Zoos with every possible topic in between!
Among many others, I am a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment. This group’s primary objectives are to promote youth employment in all its forms and the role of young people within the economy; to ensure young people’s voices are heard; to highlight the need for quality opportunities; and to share best practice. I do not want to simply discuss these issues however, but want to provide practical help.
I was really pleased therefore, to be able to organise the first jobs and apprenticeships fair in Mid Dorset and North Poole. This was a chance for local employers and businesses to meet with young people and share the opportunities they have on offer.
We have made good progress in our area in reducing unemployment, across all age ranges, including young people under 25. I am keen to encourage a wide range of ways in which young people develop their skills, both through education and training. As the employer of an apprentice myself, I know what skills apprentices can bring to the workplace, and how young people can benefit from work-based training and experience. I want to encourage more higher skilled, higher wage jobs in our economy, to enable as many people as possible to maximise their potential.