By Callum Morton
Liberal Youth Spring Conference at Leeds University at the end of March made me extremely proud. Not only was it the best one of our conferences I’d been to, but Liberal Youth is now engaging in serious discussion around Further Education.
It’s been severely lacking from the youth wing of the Liberal Democrats ever since I got first involved, some 3 – 4 years ago now. Ever since I’ve moaned at executive officers to get involved in the #FEparty and stop focussing on tuition fees. After years of trying, we’ve turned a corner.
Not only did we pass policy at Spring Conference on loans in Further Education, but we had an education debate where the vast majority was on vocational vs academic qualifications, EMA and other FE issues. Believe me when I say that this is a monumental step forward from the HE-centric views of the past.
We’re changing our Freshers schedule to encourage more stalls in Further Education institutions, we’re running campaigns that appeal to young people whether in education, employment, training, or none of the above.
We’ll be pushing our party to change its approach on membership, in order to provide details of Liberal Youth to anyone under 26 who joins the party.
This isn’t about ignoring Higher Education, but about ensuring Liberal Youth is representing all young people. I’ve lost count at the number of MPs and local parties who’ve got frustrated at Freshers materials provided by Liberal Youth, saying that they don’t truly engage with young people.
We’ll also produce a briefing and make it available to local parties before the next academic year, looking at all the ways they can engage with young people in their area.
There’s no quick solution to the problems we face as a youth wing and as a party when it comes to young people, but building some of our foundations in Further Education will pave the way for success.
Bring on the #FEparty.
Callum Morton is the jobsharing Liberal Youth Campaigns Officer (email@example.com). He tweets regularly via @callum_morton and can be found on Facebook.