The House of Lords employs nearly 500 people. Not one of them is an apprentice, and only one member of staff is under the age of 21 – according to a Parliamentary answer I have just received.
How can Parliament preach apprenticeships to the nation if it has no apprentices itself? There is a highly prestigious route for graduates to become Clerks in both Houses of Parliament yet, although a good proportion of the work undertaken by employees of the Lords is very suitable for individuals trained by an apprenticeship route, there are no apprentices. Surely this needs to change, and fast, if we are to tackle youth unemployment as a nation and create a prestigious apprenticeship route for young people who do not go to university.
I have written to Lord Strathclyde, Leader of the House of Lords, inviting him to set up an apprenticeship scheme for House of Lords employees.
In answer to my question about apprenticeships, the House authorities tell me that the Lords has in the past run trainee archivist and records management schemes, and that apprenticeships have previously been offered by the Parliamentary Estates Directorate. However, all that is in the past tense. It is action, now, in the present that we need. If Parliament doesn’t lead, how can it expect anyone else to follow?