West Reading schools careers “Futures Fair” gathers pace

Preparations are gathering pace for the interactive careers “Futures Fair” for west Reading secondary schools, which is the brainchild of Reading West MP Alok Sharma and co-organised with Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership (CBEBP). Participating schools will receive a programme and information booklet for students attending the event at the beginning of September.

The Futures Fair, which will be held on Thursday 29th September at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at the Madejski Stadium, will be attended 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.

Around 50 organisations have already committed to take part in the Reading Futures Fair, including both small and large companies, higher and further education establishments, those involved with organising and offering apprenticeships as well as local business organisations. In order to make the event as interactive as possible various organisations participating in the Futures Fair will be running practical advice sessions in smaller breakout rooms. Thames Water will offer advice on CV writing and interview skills, Credit Action will be running a seminar on financial awareness, Versa and Thames Valley Regional Network will be providing information about apprenticeships and Reading UK CIC will be talking about the local Reading and Thames Valley economy.

Alok said: “I have been really impressed by the enthusiasm of local schools and businesses wanting to participate in the Futures Fair. This is a great opportunity to showcase the best of not only local businesses but also local young people. I expect more organisations will sign up over the coming weeks to take part and I really want to turn this into a flagship local careers event for our young people in Reading going forward.”

Kelly Odell, Futures Fair Project Manager at Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership, said: “There has been an overwhelming response from local employers who want to showcase their industry and the career paths they can offer to the young people of Reading. Amongst the employers already confirmed for this event, we have commitment from Barclays, Ernst & Young, First Great Western, Investec, Network Rail, PepsiCo, Tesco and Thales who all want to help young people find out more about their future careers options.”

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

Liz Noble of Ernst & Young, said: “Speaking to us could be the start of a journey full of remarkable people, places, new ideas and rewards. A great career, in other words. Of course, this might feel like miles away, but the truth is, people who get the right knowledge and experience under their belts faster get into great careers.”

John Redbond of Castle Vets in Reading, said: “At Castle Vets we are committed to making our contribution to the Reading community and providing qualified veterinary staff to help educate young people on their options regarding a veterinary career is certainly one way we are helping to do this.”

Lance-Corporal Dennis of The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), said: “We are taking part in the event to promote and advertise the excellent career opportunities within the REME. Technology is constantly changing and the Corps requires intelligent young soldiers who have the academic qualifications to learn the trades and the determination to complete basic training.”

Denise York of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Being a fire-fighter is a much more varied job than most people realise. A lot of our applicants have friends or family members who are fire-fighters, because they see what the job can offer. We want more young people to know about the career, so that they can consider becoming fire-fighters in the future. Because entry is very competitive, applicants have an advantage if they have started thinking about the career and preparing themselves while still in their teens, even if they don’t apply until after college.”

Philippa Sadler of Investec, said: “Investec is delighted to be participating in the Futures Fair in order to raise awareness of the diverse range of career pathways that exist within organisations such as ours. Young people are often put off aspiring to work in the financial sector because they don’t think it’s for people like them, and that you need to be an expert at maths! In reality, there are a huge range of backgrounds, skills and experiences amongst our staff, so to highlight this and encourage young people to engage in the financial sector would be great.”

Photo: Alok Sharma with Futures Fair sponsors