The Reading Futures Fair, jointly organised by Reading West MP Alok Sharma and the Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership (CBEBP), took place on Thursday 29th September at the Madejski Stadium. The interactive careers fair was officially opened by Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP.
Around 60 organisations were exhibiting at the event, including First Great Western, Network Rail, Pepsico, Tesco, Thames Water, the Army, John Lewis, Reading University, AWE, BDO, Cisco, John Lewis and Electric hairdressers.
During the day session, which ran between 9:30am and 3pm, the fair was attended by more than 1,200 secondary school students from participating local schools Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, Denefield School, John Madejski Academy, Little Heath School, Reading Girls’ School and Theale Green Community School. The evening session, which was open to pupils, parents and teachers from schools across west Reading, ran from 5pm to 8pm and was also well attended.
In order to make the event as interactive as possible, various organisations participating in the Futures Fair ran practical advice sessions in smaller breakout rooms. The exhibitors running seminars included AWE, which delivered a seminar about the different applications of science through science based demonstrations, Ernst & Young, which was giving job application tips, Frontier, which delivered a talk about the personal and social benefits of taking a gap year, Versa and Thames Valley Regional Network, which provided information about apprenticeships, and Reading UK CIC, which spoke about the local labour market and the growth industries in Reading.
Alok said: “The Futures Fair was a really great event and I hope we can make it into an annual fixture. Like all the exhibitors at the fair today, I am passionate about helping our young people achieve their potential and I think that good careers guidance as early as possible in a young person’s life is vital. I visit many schools in west Reading and I can say we have got a great set of young people in the town and we saw them here today – they are motivated, they are determined. I would like to see events like the Reading Futures Fair replicated across the country so that students everywhere get the same opportunities as those provided to our pupils here in Reading West.”
Nick Gibb said: “I think it’s a very good initiative. The more information young people have about the options available to them, the better their decision making will be.”
The Minister continued: “If you go round this fair today, you see a lot of high quality companies, whether it be Kier, the big construction company, or Tesco or Pepsico, large multinationals or the police, the options here are very wide and there is an eclectic and varied group of business and occupations for young people.”
Photo: Alok at the Futures Fair with Debbie Owen, Joint Managing Director of CBEBP, Nick Gibb MP, Kelly Odell, Manager at CBEBP, and Beverley Graves, Joint Managing Director of CBEBP