O2i’s Rebecca tells of her experience at CareersFest 2016
What a brilliant couple of days I had this week as the annual Oxford City Learning CareersFest took over the amazing MINI Plant in Oxford! O2i was right at the heart of the event as its main sponsors - afterall, CareersFest supports exactly what O2i is about : informing and inspiring students about the huge variety of sectors we have in Oxfordshire and, crucially, how young people can navigate their own pathways into those sectors.
Over the course of two days, nearly 60 exhibitors from around Oxfordshire descended on the MINI Plant T Building, setting up stalls, games, robots and more to tell students from a variety of local schools about their sector andpotential career pathways. Around 1,500 students were inspired by employers over the two days!
It was the first time I’ve ever attended the annual event and I was completely blown away by the variety of employers who were eager to engage with students. The quality of exhibitor stands was great - we had some virutal reality headsets demonstrating anything from a construction site experience to a day in the Army (I jumped out of a plane – or, at least, got as close to it as I’m ever actually likely to!). There were robots from Oxford Brookes University’s ICT department. I fell a little bit in love with Robbie the Robot, much to the dismay of ARTIE his older cousin robot. There was Lego, Harry Potter, science puzzles, building bricks, an Oxford Bus to play bus skittles on, apprenticeship talks and information galore!
Students entered the T Building by walking through an array of Mini cars – each with its own history and story to tell. They were then set loose with a CareersFest quiz to encourage engagement with exhibitors : they had to ask certain questions of employers and get their quiz stamped to be in the running to win a prize.
Many employers I spoke with mentioned that they see the event as a wonderful opportunity to change perceptions (or misconceptions!) about their sector for young people.
As Roberta Bassi from Hart Publishing commented, a career in publishing is ‘so much more than discovering the next JK Rowling. There are diverse departments under the ‘publishing’ umbrella : advertising, design, IT…’ As with many sectors today, there is not just one core skill required, either.
It brought home to me the importance of building bridges between employers and schools in the way our Enterprise Adviser programme is currently doing. Schools and students benefit immensely from interactions with business…and our businesses need engaged and skilled young people!
At the end of the two days it was amazing to witness how quickly the MINI Plant T Building returned to its former state once the students (and robots) had left. A special mention should go out to the BMW Apprentices who worked hard throughout the event assisting the team and young people around the venue and who cleaned away expertly afterwards. You rock – thank you!
Stay tuned for news of CareersFest 2017…and if you’re an employer who didn’t get invited this year get in touch to be on our Exhibitor list for next year! And in the meantime, if you want to engage more directly with students about your sector, Register at O2i.org.