Public speaking is nerve wracking at the best of times. Add the environment of the House of Commons and the fact it is televised and archived for a very long time, makes the whole experience of the Maiden Speech quite terrifying! First impressions count and this is the ultimate first impression you make on your colleagues and anybody else that watches it on YouTube! I was relieved my family came to support me, with my husband, step-son and brother willing me on from the gallery.
The debate I spoke in was about the economy and jobs. I focussed on the digital revolution that is reshaping many industry sectors around the world and the importance of digital skills to boost employment prospects of young people today. I strongly believe that the 21st century workplace requires 21st century skills! I also supported high quality apprenticeships as a great route into work, especially if you want to avoid taking on student debt, as some companies will sponsor you to study up to degree level. This route worked for me and I ended up with a degree and seven years’ work experience by the age of 23.
Later, I spoke at an event to support women entrepreneurs who are starting their own business. This can be a particularly daunting and lonely journey, a time full of questions and doubts. “MakeItYourBusiness” have held several events where people can ask any basic questions and get advice from successful women entrepreneurs and build their network of other people who have, or are contemplating setting up on their own.
On Sunday, we went along to the wonderful Boxgrove Priory, a lovely old church which dates from the early twelfth century. Unfortunately, we got the time wrong so only caught the end of the service however it is a real musical treat and we will return.