‘Futures Fair’ student brochure launched

The student brochure for the interactive careers “Futures Fair”, which is being organised by Reading West MP Alok Sharma and Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership (CBEBP), was launched today and participating schools are being sent the full-colour brochure, which serves as a programme and information booklet for students attending the event.

The Futures Fair brochure, an online version of which is available at www.aloksharma.co.uk, contains a message from Prime Minister David Cameron and also sets out details of the participating organisations and interactive seminars taking place at the event, as well as helpful information on issues such as CV writing and interview tips.

Participating Organisations

Around 60 organisations have already committed to take part in the Reading Futures Fair. The following sectors and areas will be covered, and some of the organisations representing each sector are:

  • Engineering, industry & construction: AWE, Babcock, BG Group, Coffey, First Great Western, ICE, Kier Moss, National Grid, Network Rail, Peter Brett Associates, Thales, Thames Water
  • Financial services: Barclays, BDO, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, ICAEW, Investec
  • Public service: NHS, REME (Army), Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue, Thames Valley Police
  • IT & communications: CISCO, Tektronix, Vodafone
  • Apprenticeships: Construction Skills, RTT Group, Thames Valley Regional Network, Versa, Zenos
  • Food, retails & services: Baxter Storey, Castle Vets, Electric, Field Seymour Parkes, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, Penta Hotels, Pepsico, Tesco
  • Media: The Reading Chronicle
  • Environment: The Environment Agency
  • Training & volunteering: Chiltern Training, Connexions, Frontier, Paragon Skills, The Society for General Microbiology, Spark Education
  • Property: Catalyst Housing Group, Willmott Dixon
  • Business start-ups & human resources: Jaluch, The Real Business Club
  • Further education: BCA, The Chiltern College, The Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, Reading College, University of Reading, University of West London

In order to make the event as interactive as possible, some of the organisations participating in the Futures Fair will be running seminars and practical advice sessions in smaller breakout rooms. During the day the following seminars will be on offer:

  • AWE will be delivering a seminar about the different applications of science through science based demonstrations
  • CISCO will be delivering a seminar a good interview techniques and how to increase your chances of being successful
  • Ernst & Young will be delivering a seminar on strengths, job application tips and soft skills
  • Frontier will be delivering a seminar about the Personal and social benefits of taking a gap year
  • Network Rail’s seminar will be hosted by two of their employees who have recently completed the Network Rail apprenticeship scheme and they will talk about their experiences on the three-year programme
  • University of Reading will be talking about life at university, the costs involved and the careers that will be available upon graduating
  • Thames Water will be talking about the multitude of different careers available in large companies such as Thames Water and will be challenging students to think ‘Who could you be?’
  • Versa will be delivering a seminar about apprenticeships and everything you need to know about them
  • Pepsico will provide young people with a few ‘good’ and ‘bad’ CVs so they can see the difference and spot the weaknesses
  • Credit Action’s seminars will focus on the importance of good money management skills

During the evening session, the following seminars will be on offer:

  • CISCO will be offering the chance for young people to take part in mock interviews with volunteers from CISCO, with constructive feedback being given following the interview
  • Reading UK CIC will be talking about the local labour market, the growth industries in Reading, advice and guidance for young people about the current climate and the skills employers are looking for
  • Thames Valley Regional Network will be talking about apprenticeships, how to get one, finances involved and what careers they can lead to
  • Zenos will be delivering a seminar to challenge the stereotypes around IT through a number of interactive activities that look at transferable skills and how they relate to the world of work

Parliamentary Debate

On Tuesday 13th September, Alok also spoke about the forthcoming Futures Fair in Parliament during a debate on the careers service:

“I want to talk about what is happening on my patch in Reading. It is vital that not just schools, but businesses have a key role in providing careers advice, because, at the end of the day, they have an interest in interacting with their future employees. It is vital that we do not forget that element. As the Minister knows, because he is opening it at the end of the month, we have organised an interactive careers fair—we have called it a “futures fair”—open to all secondary schools in my constituency. We have organised it with the educational charity, Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership, which I guess is the sort of external service provider that we are talking about. I have long thought it important—I am sure that other Members have too—that we connect schools and business and that careers advice is not provided in isolation by schools and teachers.”

“The careers fair is also about ensuring that before the students arrive, they know exactly what to expect and that afterwards there will be follow-up sessions with teachers. Hon. Members talked about the need to involve families and parents. There will be an opportunity, after the school day, for parents to come back with their kids and talk to businesses.”

Further details on the Futures Fair

The Futures Fair, which will be held on Thursday 29th September at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at the Madejski Stadium, will be attended during the day by 1,200 local secondary school pupils from Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, Denefield School, John Madejski Academy, Little Heath School, Reading Girls’ School and Theale Green Community School.

The Futures Fair will be attended by pupils and teachers from the six participating schools between 9:30am and 3pm. The evening session will run from 5pm to 8pm and will be open to pupils, parents and teachers from the participating schools, as well as pupils, parents and teachers from schools across west Reading. Parents of pupils will be encouraged to join the event in the evening, as it is important that they have up-to-date knowledge when helping their children to choose their GCSE and A-level subjects and their eventual career path.

With the aid of the Futures Fair brochure, participating schools will be preparing their students prior to the event to ensure that they are able to gain the full benefits of attending the event. The schools will also be undertaking further follow-up sessions subsequent to the event.

Alok said: “The Futures Fair is shaping up to be a really good event. The aim is to give students, but also their teachers and parents, an opportunity to meet local businesses and other organisations face-to-face in order to gain an understanding of what skills and knowledge are required for a range of different careers and professions. I would encourage parents and pupils from all over Reading to come to the after-school session, which is open to everyone.”

Beverley Graves, Joint Managing Director at CBEBP, said: “The launch of the Futures Fair brochure into schools this week means that teachers can start to help prepare students for their visit on 29th September where they will gain information about apprenticeships, training and career progression direct from local businesses. Valuable up-to-the minute careers advice and guidance from employers based in Reading backed up by seminars giving tips on good CV writing and interview skills will enable students to work towards gaining qualifications and skills so valued by employers.”

What participating businesses are saying

A number of local businesses which are participating have explained their motivation to get involved with the Futures Fair:

Helen Clarke of HR consultancy Jaluch said: “At Jaluch we spend time every year supporting young people, mainly by offering mock interviews to those about to start looking for their first part time job. We believe very strongly that if we can share some of our knowledge around then that provides job satisfaction for us and great support for those on the receiving end.”

Andrew Graham of the Environment Agency said: “As part of our wish to work with communities to create better places we want to involve local people in the management of their environment. In particular we are encouraging people to volunteer to work with our lock keepers to help them manage boat passage through the locks and site maintenance.”

Tony Seigel of engineering company BG Group said: “BG Group is committed to supporting the teaching of STEM subjects within schools and to increasing the number of students opting to continue with STEM subjects. At the fair, we will be show casing the variety of career path’s available through continuing with STEM subjects, with particular emphasis on oil & gas; increasing awareness and aspirations within young people.”

Laura Graham of the House of Fraser said: “As one of the major retail stores in Reading town centre we believe that the way to achieve success is by putting people at the heart of our business. This means investing in people at all levels and that is why we are eager to be involved with Future Fairs. We want showcase what a fantastic place to work House of Fraser is, as well as helping to give young people some skills, direction and advice to help set them on a successful career path.”

Photo: Alok launches the Futures Fair brochure with Beverley Graves and Kelly Odell of CBEBP