The Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme aims to tackle the culture of unpaid internships by providing a nine-month paid work experience placement designed to open up parliament to people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are interested in politics but who would not be able to work without a wage.
The scheme was originally conceived and championed by former members of Parliament Rt Hon Hazel Blears, Jo Swinson and Eric Ollerenshaw. The scheme is now being led by Dan Jarvis MP, with additional cross-party support expected in the future. The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, is also a staunch supporter of the scheme.
Dan Jarvis MP, Parliamentary Champion for the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, said:
“As someone who didn't enter politics via a traditional route, I've always believed in the importance of opening up Parliament so that it looks, feels and sounds like the country it is there to serve. Extending the opportunity to work behind the scenes in the House of Commons is an important part of that process, and that is why I'm proud to be championing the Speaker's Parliamentary Scheme. It’s been a privilege to see the fantastic contribution that the Speaker’s Interns have made, and I would encourage anyone interested in gaining an experience of Parliament to apply for the Scheme in future.”
About the scheme
Working in conjunction with The Creative Society, the scheme offers 10 paid internships to people from diverse backgrounds, and helps to make access to - and experience of - Parliament more representative of the UK population.
Successful applicants spend four days a week, Monday to Thursday, working in an MP’s office as a parliamentary assistant. This involves a variety of tasks from answering correspondence from constituents to taking minutes of Select Committee hearings. On Fridays interns are placed with one of the various departments of the House of Commons. This allows interns the chance to really get to grips with the workings of Parliament.
Describing the scheme former MP Hazel Blears said:
“I believe passionately that people from all backgrounds and parts of the UK should be able to access valuable opportunities like internships…It is simply unfair that someone should miss out simply because they cannot afford to work for free… That is why I set up the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme.”
Since 2011 the scheme has gone from strength to strength and has become a fixture of Parliament. Thanks to their experiences as part of the Scheme many former participants have secured permanent jobs here in Parliament, while others have gone on to higher education or to work in various positions in the private sector.
How do I apply?
Applications for the sixth Cohort of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme will open in April 2016. Anyone who wants to apply should do so via The Creative Society website.