I represented the NYA at the Conservative party conference held at the Birmingham ICC on the 28Sep – 1 October 2014. Initially I attended a Q&A with Nicky Morgan MP, the Education Secretary of State, on various youth issues such as votes at 16, housing, youth unemployment which was held in the youth zone.
This was followed by a policy discussion with Tim Loughton MP where I questioned him on the NCS programme. I am a part of the NCS commissioning team and wanted to understand why the government had chosen a specific age for young people to participate in the programme. I was told that this decision was made due to young people arriving at a major stage of their lives at age 16, since they are developing into young adults and the government felt that the summer, where many left school for training or further education, was the most appropriate time to complete this programme as young people are freer and have less commitments compared to an ‘older’ young people aged 18-25 years. Although I understand this side of the argument I do not fully agree with it, as I am aware of many young people in the 18-25 age bracket who are very eager to complete NCS and cannot as they are over age. The only other option for an NCS type programme for this age group is ICS which is international and many young people feel that this commitment is too much – they would rather do social action in their communities like the standard NCS programme.
This discussion was followed by the League of Young Voters UK Question Time with British Youth Council chair Mita Desai, Chloe Smith MP and Head of Communications for the Conservative Party.
The next day we held our NYA breakfast meeting with Chloe Smith discussing the report and findings on our Commission into Enterprise and Young People consultation and gathering of evidence. Jon Boagey, deputy CEO of NYA who has been heavily involved in the commission, talked about the critical role of youth workers in fostering enterprise. Overall there was lots of great feedback on the report and how well the commission has progressed.
After this me and my colleague visited the stands in the exhibition area, networking and gaining lots of freebies as well as trying out the Microsoft car driving race simulator where I failed terribly. We met lots of politicians like Theresa May, Eric Pickles, Philip Hammond, Oliver Letwin and Grant Shapps. Finally I attended the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists debate and went to visit the youth zone to see everyone from the youth sector which is always a delight! All in all it was a very interesting experience as my first party conference, there was so much to do and see that I didn’t want to leave!