Young people from across the region have been encouraged to think outside the box by regional and national businesses and universities when it comes to their future.
The biennial Futures Fair, which is run and hosted by Dame Allan’s Schools, saw over 1000 attendees speaking with over 100 businesses, educational establishments and training providers.
Among those in attendance was regional director of the CBI and alumna of Dame Allan’s, Sarah Glendinning. The CBI provides a voice for businesses across the UK and Sarah, who has an active interest in education, gave a talk called ‘What Really Are My Options?’ where she discussed the importance of adaptability and soft skills and she encouraged young people to have the confidence to explore.
“The world of work is changing and schools and teachers need to catch up,” she said. “Businesses and industry are evolving so quickly that many of the skills our young people are learning are for jobs that haven’t been created yet. It is so important that events like this are held to offer advice and guidance to students who are faced with an ever-changing world. We need to raise the value of vocational education and ensure that careers advice goes from play-level to A Level. Skills are the currency of the 21st century.”
The packed programme included over 70 stalls representing a variety of businesses and employers including the armed forces, Reece Group, the Laing Art Gallery, the NHS, Beamish Museum and many more. Representatives from universities, including Oxford, Durham, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Queen’s Belfast also travelled from across the country to attend.
There were 30 inspirational presentations on a variety of careers from industry leaders including Matt Boyle, president and CEO of Sevcon, who brought along an electric motorbike. Matt described the fair as “a superb opportunity for young people to see what careers are available to them in the North East and beyond”.
Careers advice is particularly topical this year, having been the focus of much government debate. In October, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a new scheme in an attempt to support schools in their careers advice and links with employers. Earlier in the year the TES published data which showed a profound mismatch between available vacancies and the areas young people want to work in.
Principal of Dame Allan’s Schools, Dr John Hind, said: “The Futures Fair is a wonderful event in the Schools’ calendar which gives students the opportunity to meet with a huge range of representatives from across the UK and beyond to get advice and guidance. We have an excellent and very well-used careers service at Dame Allan’s and the Futures Fair, which tops it all off, prepares our young people for life beyond Dame Allan’s.
“Our Diamond Structure, which sees boys and girls taught separately and mix socially between 11 and 16 years, means our students are able to avoid any gender stereotypes in the classroom and are free to be the best they can be. They then enter our Sixth Form which, like the real world, is co-educational. Our students are taught to have confidence and to push themselves, skills that they take with them into the wider world of work.”