Looking to the future at Careers Fair

Excitement and opportunity were in the air in the main hall at UTC Reading when around 30 employers and education providers came in for a careers fair.

Apprenticeships, university, training courses and employment paths were discussed with Years 10 to 13 on Wednesday, 19 October, as students really made the most of their time with a variety of specialists who kindly volunteered their time.

Among the providers offering their time were the RAF, Royal Navy, Army, Stantec, Microsoft, Berkshire NHS Trust, Alstom, as well as representatives from a variety of universities around the UK.

Representing Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was UTC Oxfordshire alumni student Tom Pooley, who is studying for a degree apprenticeship in the radiotherapy department – ‘the science, engineering side of the hospital’.

He admits it wasn’t an area he’d considered before he saw the job advertised, which is part of the reason he was at the careers fair, to spread the word about the amount of science and engineering opportunities available within the NHS.

He was also keen to point out that UTC students have a distinct advantage when applying for degree apprenticeships like his one, saying: “I use lots of what I learnt at UTC all the time. The BTEC engineering course I took at UTCO covers a lot of very practical subjects that are useful even now. There’s been lots of times at university where I’ve been fast-tracked because I already have knowledge and experience of that subject.”

Tom had no hesitation in recommending a degree apprenticeship too, saying: “With my training there’s so much career progression ahead of me, I 100 per cent recommend it.”

AWE set challenges for the students to complete.

Degree and other apprenticeships were discussion points for quite a few companies, some of whom brought clever challenges to keep the students entertained while they digested career information, such as the VR set Microsoft brought along. AWE gave its visiting students the challenge of creating a small plastic ball out of six different shaped pieces in the time it took to talk with Workplace Assessor Kevin Nixon.

Kevin said he is always happy to attend events such as this, as it ‘gives the students the chance to talk one-on-one about opportunities our apprenticeships provide. We actually have three UTC Reading alumni students in year one of their apprenticeship now, doing very well.”

Isaac Smith spoke about Army roles.

Isaac Smith, a vehicle mechanic with The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) also spoke to the students about the advantages of an apprenticeship.

“At the end of REME’s three-year apprenticeship you’ll get NVQ Level 3 in your trade – eg electronical or mechanical engineering. There are 185 different jobs in the British Army, and in the REME there are eight different trade groups, with roles including aircraft technicians or recovery mechanics.”

“It’s good for the kids here to gain an insight into what there is in the outside world, and to change preconceived ideas of what the Army is or who is in it. It isn’t just men with guns. We are actively recruiting more and more women in the Army, and in the REME we have a very strong female engineering presence and I want the girls here to know that.”

TVP spoke about a new apprenticeship route.

Another provider banging the drum for degree apprenticeships was Thames Valley Police. Sylvia Masih-Gill and Yasser Zubair, part of team of six engagement officers, were especially keen to talk the students about a new apprenticeship route into the police.

Yasser said: “One of the main reasons I came in today is because we want to let more people know they can now train for a professional qualification now with a degree apprenticeship, as well as the traditional route into the police. So when you leave, you’ve got this qualification.”

Sylvia and her team are keen to attract people from minority communities, to increase representation in Thames Valley Police and better represent the local community.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to come here and talk to people who may have negative thoughts about the police,” she said. “They can see that although we’re in uniform, we are just like them, and we can start a conversation, then explain some of the opportunities available. This is a good platform for that.”

Picking up the theme of women, Sylvia wants the girls here to see policing as a career option. “It’s not about how big and strong you are, it’s about your skills and temperament for the job.”

As well as talking with employers, students were able to weigh up further education options with universities and in some of our local colleges including our own Activate Learning.

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