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Young people were given the chance to think about their futures as dozens of employers put on an opportunities fair at Portsmouth Guildhall. Reporter Kimberley Barber was there to meet them.

Hundreds of children found some inspiration as they learned about their future career and education choices at a popular annual event.

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) William Wheatley (11), Henry Wheatley (9) Richard Wheatley, and David Lemon from Highbury College Automotive department.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-062) PPP-141018-230422003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) William Wheatley (11), Henry Wheatley (9) Richard Wheatley, and David Lemon from Highbury College Automotive department.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-062) PPP-141018-230422003

The event took place on Saturday at a packed Portsmouth Guildhall and saw more than 50 businesses, companies and organisations give exciting demonstrations to the youngsters.

The Opportunities Fair was a chance for children, especially those aged 10 to 13, to see what it would be like to work for one of the employers in the area.

More than 1,000 youngsters attended the day, which was organised by Shaping the Future of Portsmouth and the Education Business Partnership (EBP).

Jacquie Jones, project manager for the EBP, said: ‘It’s all about inspiring young people, getting them to think about what they want to do in the future.

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) Alex Briggs, Dave Rayner and Elisha Rayner.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-004) PPP-141018-230548003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) Alex Briggs, Dave Rayner and Elisha Rayner.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-004) PPP-141018-230548003

‘Rather than just talking to people and picking up leaflets, it’s about getting them involved and letting them see if that is what they actually want to do with their future.’

The children could take part in a range of activities, from taking virtual tours of building sites, to trying on stage costumes and putting on gory stage make-up.

For 11-year-old Hannah Arnott, from Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth, the stage make-up was the highlight.

Hannah, from Queens Road, in Copnor, said: ‘It’s been great fun.

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Food and Beverage associate Michael Bowles mixing cocktails on the Marriott Hotel stand.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-066) PPP-141018-230443003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Food and Beverage associate Michael Bowles mixing cocktails on the Marriott Hotel stand.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-066) PPP-141018-230443003

‘I wanted to come when I heard about it at school because it seemed interesting.’

Hannah was with her dad Neil, 46, who was also inspired by some of the companies.

Mr Arnott said: ‘The fair is really good because it is important for young people to think about what they want to do before they run out of time.

‘That way they can decide and start working towards their goals. It’s a great event.’

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Steven Wylie leading a tour of The Guildhall. ''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-968) PPP-141018-230504003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Steven Wylie leading a tour of The Guildhall. ''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-968) PPP-141018-230504003

For 11-year-old Aiden Crawley, from Priory School, in Southsea, it was the engineering stalls that were the most attractive.

Aiden, from Cranleigh Avenue, Buckland, said: ‘It has been really good fun. I liked the engineering section, but I haven’t decided what I want to be yet, although I like law and accounts, which are even needed at engineering companies.’

As well as engineering stalls, there were stands from the catering industry with delicious treats on offer and a chance to make mocktails with staff from the Marriott hotel.

Food and beverage manager Michael Bowles said he was impressed with the way the youngster were so keen to learn.

Mr Bowles, from Portchester, said: ‘It’s good to show the young people that there are other routes aside from education for the next 10 years.

‘It’s been brilliant. The young people have loved the stand, they are all getting involved.

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) Cynthia Opdam from Cisco Systems and Boris Shaw (8) with the Banana Piano.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-054) PPP-141018-230401003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''(l-r) Cynthia Opdam from Cisco Systems and Boris Shaw (8) with the Banana Piano.''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-054) PPP-141018-230401003

‘There’s a great buzz.’

Lord Mayor’s insight

COUNCIL leader Donna Jones and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Steven Wylie praised the event.

Cllr Jones said: ‘The fair was all about inspiring children and encouraging them to set their goals high.

‘This is a city where people can work for world-famous employers using the very latest technology. Or they can join in the superb work being done in the local arts, entertainment and leisure industries.

‘We want Portsmouth children to grow up and work in exciting jobs, especially in science and engineering, and play their part in the development of the city.’

Cllr Wylie said he was impressed by the youngsters’ attitudes.

He said: ‘It was fantastic to see many different companies, offering so many opportunities to the youngsters.’

Cllr Wylie opened up his parlour for children to find out more about the mayor’s role.

Plenty of opportunity

Employers and education establishments at the fair included:

Action Stations, Airbus Defence & Space, BAE Systems, BAM Construction, Biscoes Solicitors, Blake Morgan, Bouygues, Cisco Systems, Express FM, Fareham College, Fassett, Fluid Motion Theatre, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Highbury College, HTP, Hughes Ellard, IBM, IBTC, John Pounds Centre, Key Recruitment, Kings Theatre, Marriott, McAndrew Martin, Mary Rose Museum, Mountjoy, New Theatre Royal, Novatech, Portsmouth Watersports Centre, Portsmouth College, Portsmouth Cultural Services, Portsmouth Cultural Trust, Portsmouth Music Service, Portsmouth Library, Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Premier Inn, Pfizer, PETA, Qinetiq, Randstad, Selex ES, Southern Co-operative, The Recycled Assets Company, The Royal Navy, University of Bournemouth, University of Portsmouth.

More information is at oppsfair.com

Inspiring young people

Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Education Business Partnership (EBP) is an established social enterprise and registered charity that raises the aspirations of young people, offers insights to the world of work and inspires young people to become more enterprising and resilient.

It believes that the best way to inspire and motivate young people to fulfil their potential is to offer real work experience by bringing education and businesses together.

Through partnerships between businesses and education, young people are offered work experience placements, workplace visits, information, advice and guidance about careers, CV writing workshops, enterprise experiences and mock interviews.

For more information go to portsmouthebp.co.uk

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-079) PPP-141018-230515003

142952_OPPS_18/10/14 ''Opportunities Fair at Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142952-079) PPP-141018-230515003