Ex-apprentice Monique Shockness: Mover and Shaker!

Movers and Shakers | Monique Shockness | Administrative Assistant to The General Secretary of The Labour Party


Online magazine Precious Success, who connect, profile and support women of colour in business and the workplace, recently spotlighted former Parliamentary Academy apprentice Monique Shockness as someone making an impact in their field.

Currently the Administrative Assistant to the General Secretary of The Labour Party, Monique shares invaluable advice, reveals personal passions and speaks about the deciding factors in her career choice and development.

Read the whole story here: http://precioussuccess.com/movers-shakers/


New apprenticeship opportunities

Labour_logo                   Apprenticeships logo

We are now recruiting for an exciting apprenticeship position with The Labour Party’s Digital Content team.

If you are a non-graduate who loves digital media, are good at communicating and looking to take your next step towards a great career then this is for you. Apply here!

‘I’ll leave with better skills and more experience then I could have got anywhere else’

Imogen_Sadiq _KhanMy name is Imogen and I work in Sadiq Khan’s Westminster office as a Parliamentary Apprentice with The Parliamentary Academy. 

I started working here last October after completing my final year at Graveney School sixth Form, a school in Sadiq’s Tooting constituency. There were a lot of options open to me at that time – I could have applied to university or further education, or I could have scrambled for the last of the pub and cafe jobs in my local area that many of my friends had already snapped up. I sat around considering my options until my Mum suggested I look for work in the field of politics, which I had always been interested in.

Typically, I ignored her for as long as I could. With so few jobs around anyway, who was going to employ me over older, more experienced graduates? But I needed to show her that I had at least tried, so I googled ‘jobs with MPs’ and came across the Parliamentary Apprentice website. I saw the job with Sadiq and it seemed perfect! I could study while earning and work in an interesting environment. The hours were perfect and I didn’t need a degree.

I applied for the job and was called in for an interview in Westminster, where I met Sadiq and some of my now-colleagues. A week later I had a call to say I had got the job. I was nervous to start and wasn’t quite sure what to expect- as an apprentice, I should technically have been learning on the job but I knew it was more likely that I would be grabbing coffees and spending my days in the photocopying room.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been like that at all. In fact, more often than not, Mark in the office is getting me coffee! Each day is different and I genuinely look forward to coming to work. On Mondays, I travel to Sadiq’s advice surgery to help out constituents before they speak to the MP, on other days I help Sadiq with casework from his constituents or liaise with the people who contact Sadiq to attend meetings, events and talks in his Tooting, Justice and London roles. Often, I will go to watch Sadiq speak in the House of Commons at Justice Questions or Deputy Prime Ministers Questions, and in March I have been invited to meet with the Prime Minister and some other Parliamentary Apprentices.

For me, the biggest thing is how much I enjoy working here. But I also know that when my apprenticeship ends at the end of this year, I’ll leave with better skills and more experience then I could have got anywhere else – let alone more money! Instead of getting me to do run of the mill jobs, Sadiq and his office have taken the time to explain to me how to tackle complex issues, how to write professionally and how to keep people happy yet ensure you represent what you stand for. Already, working here has been invaluable for my future prospects and my confidence, so I can’t wait for what will come from the rest of the year!

Imogen Cahill, 18 years old

Imogen Cahill has been Sadiq’s Parliamentary Apprentice since October 2013. A former Graveney School student, she will be working in Sadiq’s office for a period of one year. To find out more about Sadiq Khan’s constituency work and read the original blog please click here.

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2014

NAW2014 national_apprenticeship_weekLast week saw the triumphant return of National Apprenticeship Week, now in its seventh profile-raising year. The twittersphere was buzzing with talk of the contribution apprentices make to the economy, the positive benefits for young people and the businesses that employ them, and the ways in which these successes can be expanded even further. Everyone from Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband to Nora Senior, President of the British Chambers of Commerce was singing the praises of apprenticeships; music to our ears.

“People pursuing vocational education are just as bright, just as innovative, just as ambition, and just as go-getting as any undergraduate you will find”

Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Liberal Democrat Party

It’s common knowledge that experience goes a long way in the workforce and, as Nick Clegg MP rightly pointed out, choosing not to go to university is in no way choosing not to advance your career. In fact, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) statistician Jamie Jenkins, “the transition from education to joining the workforce may be more difficult without any prior work experience, which can help develop skills not learned on an educational course”.

The skills gap was also highlighted in a recent Telegraph article on UK youth unemployment, which highlighted the unfortunate reality that employed 16 to 24 year olds, whether in full or part time work, are likely to be in some of the lowest skilled roles. With their mix of earning and learning, apprenticeships are a tried and tested means of countering the trend towards unskilled, low paid jobs for young people who have chosen not to pursue a university education.

“I want it to be the new norm for young people to either go to university or into an apprenticeship… We need to look at how we can expand apprenticeship opportunities so that they are available to all young people who are ready and eager to take them up and aspire to get ahead in life”

David Cameron MP, Prime Minister and Leader of The Conservative Party

As we build towards the general election and politics becomes increasingly partisan, the consensus surrounding apprenticeships, and the cross-party support for such schemes, as seen in the Youth Unemployment APPG, is a strong indication of the huge benefits apprenticeships can bring to all involved.

NAW2014 Your-big-opportunity

Mastering Think-Tanks

photo 12Think-tanks play an important role in policy and political discussion but understanding what they actually do, and who works for them, can be a tricky business. Fortunately for our apprentices, masterclass partner Demos were on hand to demystify their inner workings – after all, who better to spill the beans than the think-tankers themselves…

Last Thursday, our apprentices, and some recent Parliamentary Academy graduates, gathered to get the inside scoop on think-tanks. When asked the what it is think-tanks actually do, Demos Research Director, Duncan O’Leary, gave an enticing answer; placing it somewhere between journalism and academia. Working on projects for months, it’s more in-depth than a journalist generally has time to go but far less caught up in the minutiae that an academic would be. And, as Duncan pointed out, there’s also the question of relevancy – the work of a think-tank must have value. It should speak to the challenges we are facing now, suggesting ways forward and practical policy suggestions.

A Month of Media for Apprentice Alice

cropped-palace-of-westminster-203489_1920.jpg5th April 2012

6 months in to the apprenticeship and time really has flown!  I feel at home in the office and am enjoying the daily routine and tasks assigned to me. It is now Easter recess and with MPs busy in the constituency, Port Cullis seems a very quiet place. Yesterday the newest MP George Galloway walked by and it felt almost strange to see an MP in the house. It may be quiet in the corridors of Westminster however there is plenty to keep us busy in the office; especially with Liz away it is our job to keep the Westminster office running.

Mike has been busy the past couple of months and I’ve been enjoying writing press releases to increase publicity. I have written press release for a broad range of topics such as WWF’s Earth Hour, Sport Relief, the NHS Care Campaign and violence in Syria. I am keeping up to date with current affairs for each morning on arrival I write a media bulletin to send out to everyone in our office and the Edinburgh office. I have to be selective and choose key news stories as well as articles in Scotland and Parliamentary Business of interest.

There has been a lot going on in terms of Scottish press recently. Not long ago the issue of Scottish Independence was a media highlight which led to a lot of policy case work where constituents wrote in with independence queries, suggestions and concerns. Also on an extremely positive note, Edinburgh recently received the good news that months of hard work and campaigning by Mike had paid off as his constituency won the bid for the Green Investment Bank.  A triumph for Team Crockart!

Edinburgh West constituents seem to have a keen political interest and we receive a lot of letters. From Fair Fuel to the NHS there is a lot of room to research and find out about legislation and policies which have an effect on people’s everyday lives.

With casework and media to work on there is one final project I ought to mention which I have been working on.  Mike is hosting a Skills Breakfast event as part of his campaign to encourage local businesses to give young people work opportunities such as apprenticeships, provide paid work experience amongst further opportunities as part of the Youth Contract. I have been collating a list of businesses to invite and drafting invites/letters in addition to general planning of the event. This will be a great opportunity to go to Edinburgh, meet our lovely colleagues in the Edinburgh office and get involved in a campaign which promotes the kind of scheme I am lucky to be on.

Speaking of the media, The Parliamentary Academy last week had an article published in the Evening Standard. See here to read it: http://t.co/0K5NkIb8. I was interviewed as part of the piece about apprentices across London doing different and wonderful jobs. I had to have a few photos taken outside Parliament and Big Ben which was a bit daunting, and with tourists passing by I had a glimpse of how the life of a celeb could be… I’m not sure I would want to be one receiving so many inquisitive stares!

In terms of the apprenticeship itself, we have been working on our NVQ and individual tasks. We really benefitted from a master class on the use of social media from Nick Denys, a well-known blogger for Platform 10. Being fairly new to twitter this really helped my understanding and I was able to go home and use the site more efficiently. We have come a long way in 6 months and it is interesting to catch up with the other apprentices and hear how we have all settled into our roles. At the end of the apprenticeship I hope to continue my work here in Parliament, and have thought about doing a part time degree in the evenings. For now though, I am going to concentrate on making the most of the apprenticeship and continue to enjoy the perks of working in the office.