The Parliamentary Academy – the school for MPs’ apprentices co-created by Robert Halfon, the National Skills Academy and the charity New Deal of the Mind (now the Creative Society) – was founded in 2012.
Speaking to TES in 2013, Halfon said he hoped that a shift from MPs taking on unpaid, often well-connected, interns to hiring apprentices would “change the culture of Parliament”.
About 40 apprentices were offered training at Westminster Kingsway College and placed with MPs, such as former Labour leader Ed Miliband (pictured, above) and culture minister Matthew Hancock, as well as with members of the House of Lords.
But the academy’s co-creator Martin Bright, founder and chief executive of the Creative Society, has told TES that the programme has largely ground to a halt over the past 18 months owing to a lack of funding, with the charity instead focusing on the Speaker’s Internship programme, which helps young people to get nine-month, paid internships in MPs’ parliamentary offices.
“We never had any funding for the Parliamentary Academy, it was just an initiative,” Bright tells TES. “The reason we started the whole thing was to try and persuade MPs to put money where their mouth is; they’re constantly telling businesses to take on apprentices. But they’re rather averse to doing it themselves, with honourable exceptions.
“Robert Halfon was a pioneer and he did do a lot. There are other examples but, generally speaking, MPs don’t spend money on apprentices.
“The diversity of people going into Parliament remains woefully lacking. My view is that there should be a Parliament-wide apprentice scheme for MPs, some sort of incentive for MPs to take on apprentices.”