Eye opening careers fair for North Dorset

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Last week saw the annual North Dorset Careers Fair at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton, run by Dorset Careers Hub. More than 700 local students attended throughout the day, with invaluable opportunities to hear from a diverse group of employers, apprenticeship and training providers, and local education organisations – the fair buzzed with energy as young people browsed potential pathways to future careers. The BV was fortunate to gain exclusive interviews with some of the key exhibitors and attendees, shedding light on their experiences and the impact of the event.

The first hall at the North Dorset Careers Fair in Sturminster Newton

Amfax is a world class test engineering system solutions provider based in Blandford, delivering automated test equipment to the aerospace, defence, rail & transport, telecoms and energy marketplaces.
Samantha Stocker explained that the firm is keen to engage with young people: ‘In the UK we have a skill shortage in engineering and science. Fairs like this really help to open up opportunities and broaden the horizons of a new generation. And hopefully that carries forward, and will in turn help the company and the community. For me personally, it’s also about trying to get girls interested in the STEM subjects, it’s something I’m deeply passionate about.’

A small family building firm started in West Dorset in 1918 by Charles George Fry has grown over the last century, and C G Fry & Son is now a leading regional construction firm – the company operates throughout the south west from Hampshire to Cornwall. Sarah Pilling, Business Development Manager, explained why career fairs were so important for the firm: ‘With the skills shortages in the construction industry we are working with training providers to invest in the next generation. There is no doubt that motivated apprentices and trainees are a great prospect to create the best team members for the future, and we’re keen to make young people aware of the incredible range of careers within the industry, from academic through to trades. A lot of people think construction is just about the trades – being a plasterer, a bricklayer, a carpenter etc. But there are so many opportunities and openings; we need architects, surveyors, construction managers … For us, this is a brilliant opportunity to talk about the industry as a whole, and try and engage the next generation with the vast opportunities that are available within it.’

‘Realising that it’s not just doctors and nurses, but that they employ chefs and electricians and plumbers.’ Claire Brown from Shaftesbury School explained the benefit of young people coming and talking to an employer like the NHS

The careers fair wasn’t just about employment, however. Also present were various education establishments offering a range of opportunities beyond the standard GCSE and A level route. Sexey’s School from Bruton were present at the fair, and Director of Sixth Form John Moise explained why it was a beneficial trip for them: ‘We get to talk to students who may not consider a move for their A Levels. We’re predominantly based in South Somerset, but because we have a boarding house as well as day pupils, students from North Dorset are able to come and study with us and enjoy the benefits of the great A level results that we get. We chat to the students, talk to them about the options that they’re taking for GCSEs and help them think long term about what they might want to do, what careers they might go into. It’s literally just about broadening their horizons, perhaps explaining that you don’t have to stay where you’ve always been.’

Sexey’s Director of Sixth Form John Moise is excited to talk to a range of students: ‘It’s literally just about broadening their horizons, perhaps explaining that you don’t have to stay where you’ve always been.’

Dorset’s land-based college Kingston Maurward was also present. ‘Attending careers fairs such as this is a vital part Kingston Maurward’s work,’ said Steph Addison, Business Development and Schools Liaison. ‘It’s a great way for us to showcase further education opportunities in land-based and affiliated industries to young people in and around Dorset. Our attendance is key in ensuring land-based provision continues and thrives, meaning we can continue to fill skills gaps in rural industries.’

Steph Addison (centre) Business Development and Schools Liaison at Kingston Maurward College, says attendance at careers fairs is ‘key in ensuring land-based provision continues and thrives

Claire Brown, careers lead at Shaftesbury School, had accompanied a group of students to the fair. She agrees the success of a good careers fair is in offering a wider vision of a young person’s future: ‘Career Fairs like this are really important in terms of showing young people what their options are when they get to 16 and 18, realising the range of different opportunities that are available to them. We find it’s also a great motivational boost, often spurring a burst of ambition and aspiration. Seeing all the different options can get them really thinking about the future and what they can go on to do.

‘Some that are not aware of an apprenticeship, it’s not necessarily something that they would have considered. It’s not just about the trades, there’s so many things you can do with apprenticeships. And, again, the ones that haven’t necessarily considered university can come and have a chat with universities but also speak to different employers. Some they’ve heard the name locally, like CG Fry, but they don’t necessarily know what they do. Or they may know what they do, but they don’t consider how many different job roles are in that area, like the NHS for example. Realising that it’s not just doctors and nurses, but that they employ chefs and electricians and plumbers.’

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