West Reading schools careers "Futures Fair" launched

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has today announced plans for an interactive careers “Futures Fair” for west Reading secondary schools to be held on Thursday 29th September at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at the Madejski Stadium.

First Great Western, Network Rail, PepsiCo and Tesco are sponsoring the event, including the venue and transport for pupils from local schools, to ensure that there will be no financial cost for schools attending the Futures Fair. Local Reading papers the Reading Chronicle and Reading Post will act as media sponsors to promote the event and raise awareness of the types of organisations which will take part in the event.

Alok Sharma has teamed up with Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership (CBEBP) to organise the event. CBEBP have extensive experience in working with local schools and organising careers fairs and have helped to deliver the hugely successful Teentech Fair which is now held every year at the Madejski Stadium.

The Reading Futures Fair will have 60 to 70 organisations exhibiting at the event, including both small and large companies, higher and further education establishments, those involved with organising and offering apprenticeships as well as local business organisations. The event will be tailored so that it is relevant for years 8 and 9 students as well as year 11 and 6th form students.

The aim is to make the event as interactive as possible and sessions on interview techniques, CV writing, financial budgeting and talks about the local Reading and Thames Valley economy will also take place in smaller breakout rooms so that students have a good opportunity to get the most out of the event. At the end of the school day the Futures Fair will remain open so that students can return with their parents for a further discussion about jobs and careers with the organisations present.

Alok said: “I am really pleased to have got this initiative off the ground and I want to thank all our sponsors for responding so enthusiastically and being so keen to support this Futures Fair. CBEBP and I have already had meetings with local secondary schools to discuss the event and we will spend the coming weeks and months working with the schools to ensure that we have a careers fair which really delivers for our young people. I hope we can use this year’s Futures Fair to build towards a flagship annual Futures Fair event in Reading.”

Beverley Graves, joint managing director of CBEBP, added: “Businesses have an important role to play in informing and supporting young people with decisions about their future careers. We look forward to working with employees from a range of local, national and international companies, many of whom recently attended our local schools. Their efforts will enable Reading students to be ready to work in an increasing competitive job market.”

Mark Hopwood, managing director at First Great Western, commented: “First Great Western is delighted to be associated with such an important and prestigious project. As a major employer in the area with a wide range of different opportunities for school leavers and graduates we welcome the chance to be involved. It is great to see so many local businesses joining together with local Member of Parliament, Alok Sharma, to offer an event that will be of great benefit to young people in Reading and the surrounding area.”

David Wilson of Network Rail said: “Network Rail is at the start of a project to transform Reading’s railway, and we want to use our presence in the town to inspire a generation of railway engineers for the 21st century. It takes all kinds skills to run a railway, from high tech signalling design and civil engineering, to station management and customer service. This careers event is a great opportunity for us to get young people thinking about how their skills might fit within the rail industry.”

Claire Robertson, PepsiCo Culture & Communication manager, added: “The success of PepsiCo is the result of the work our talented teams do around the world every day. As a business that offers a wide range of career paths, we require a diverse range of skills and want to invest time in finding the next generation of PepsiCo employees. With our UK head office based in Theale we believe it is really important to give children in the local area an opportunity to see the breadth of options open to them. It is very important to provide choices and help kids get excited about their future careers.”

Maxine Crawford, Tesco regional corporate affairs manager, said: “As a major employer in Reading, we are keen to do what we can to help young people make the right career choices. The Schools Futures Fair is a great opportunity for us to provide support and encouragement for teenagers who are about to enter the world of work during challenging times. Hopefully we will be able to welcome some of them to Tesco in the future.”

For further information about the Futures Fair contact Alok Sharma on alok.sharma.mp@parliament.uk or Beverley Graves on beverley.graves@cbebp.co.uk.

Photo: Alok Sharma with Futures Fair sponsors