More than 1,400 children from 32 Hampshire schools had the chance to take part in interactive workshops and speak to professionals from 70 different companies as part of EBP South’s Get Inspired careers fair.
The annual event hosted at Portsmouth Guildhall looks to ‘broaden children’s horizons’ as to the job opportunities which exist and to raise aspirations to achieve their dream career.
Year 8 Springfield School pupil, Emily Ralston, 13, said: ‘I really enjoyed the event and learning about all the different careers. It was great to be able to speak to professionals from different industries. I like English and am interested in becoming a journalist.’
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Classmate Hannah Duffy, 12, added: ‘I don’t really know what I want to do when I leave school and so it has been interesting to find out about all the different careers. There are so many jobs which I didn’t even know existed.’
For EBP South’s chief executive officer, Cath Longhurst, the careers fair is about raising awareness of the opportunities which exist - something she feels is particularly important in an area historically dominated by the Royal Navy and dockyard.
Cath said: ‘There’s a strong tradition of employment here in Portsmouth and it’s well known the biggest influence on career choices is family. However it’s vital that young people are aware of all the career opportunities out there.’
With GCSE progress below the national average, Cath hopes that raising students’ aspirations and providing greater direction will improve attainment across the city.
‘’Why are we doing this’ is one of the most commonly asked questions in schools. If students have a career target it gives greater purpose to their education which can hopefully lead to better results. We had one student last year who was failing in maths and English. After finding out he needed those subjects to become a carpenter he got extra tuition and ended up doing really well,’ said Cath.
Grace Lawrence, pastoral manager at Springfield School, added: ‘It’s about children making that connection between school and what they want to do in the future.’
It’s a sentiment shared by Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton, who was visiting the event as part of Aspirations Week.
Cllr Horton said: ‘There has been so much energy here today. Raising aspirations is key to future academic success. Children need to see the importance of being in school and the fact education will give them the toolkit to open future doors.’
One of the key aims for local businesses was to help remove the stereotypes associated with certain careers.
BAE Systems education manager Vivian Hines said: ‘As a local employer it was important for us to be here today. A key aim is to encourage greater diversity in engineering including inspiring more young women into the industry.’