Portsmouth businesses help inspire youngsters to find a career in the city

BUSY The Portsmouth Opportunities Fair   Picture: Paul Jacobs
BUSY The Portsmouth Opportunities Fair Picture: Paul Jacobs

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More than a thousand children have spent five hours being inspired to the opportunities available to them in the jobs market in the city.

The emergency services, The News and Portsmouth Football Club were all at the first Portsmouth Opportunities Fair, inspiring a new generation to find jobs and careers in Portsmouth.

More than 1,500 youngsters attended today’s event at the Guildhall, finding out about the different businesses and careers on offer.

Local schools and colleges provided the soundtrack and the entertainment on the Guildhall’s main stage, which was also projected on the big screen in the square.

And the buzz within the Guildhall itself didn’t stop until the event closed at 3pm.

It was all organised by the Portsmouth Education Business Partnership and Shaping the Future of Portsmouth (SFP), which is a group made up of businesses, Portsmouth City Council, colleges and the University of Portsmouth that shots about what makes our city great.

Philippe Jouy, managing director of Warings and chairman of the education group within SFP, said: ‘It has gone very well, with nearly 100 businesses here.

‘We’ve also got 35 role models.

‘We did this to showcase all the great career opportunities which exist within the city in order to inspire young people and to raise their aspirations and the aspirations of their parents and families, because they have a key role to play in shaping the future of their children.’

Mr Jouy also paid tribute to the work of the businesses involved in committing their time and resources to make the event so successful.

He added: ‘It’s been a fantastic effort by many volunteers who have worked tirelessly, as well as doing their usual jobs, to make this happen.

‘We’ve had the Guildhall provided for free by the council, and all the printing has been donated by Bishops Printers. The university also provided a free bus to ensure that no-one from the north of the city missed out.

‘It’s been a wholly joined-up effort by everyone on a city-wide scale.

‘I think it’s been brilliant for many children and it could be the first step on their journey to a career that they really enjoy, whatever that career might be.

‘If we’ve inspired even a few children, it has all been worth it.’

Warings has been just one of the dozens of local businesses that has firmly been behind the event.

Another of those has been IBM, which helped with the organisation and brought a fleet of volunteers and role models to the event to tell the youngsters what they do.

Marcus Davidson interrupted his busy day showing off a brain-powered car and interactive sign-language system to speak to The News.

He said: ‘This is not a recruitment fair, there are no jobs being offered here.

‘What we’re doing is showing the vast array of things going on in the city.

‘It’s a chance to tell people as well what IBM does – we’re not all about computers.’

Youngsters attending the fair got the chance to try their hand at cooking, find out more about Portsmouth’s creative industries, such as the Southsea Boutique Market, get an introduction into the world of hospitality, and find out about careers in newspapers, charters surveying, the armed forces, technology and further education.

Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor Cheryl Buggy spoke to The News as she stepped out of a fibreglass Velomobile, one of the exhibitions at the Guildhall.

She said: ‘Don’t you just love it when someone has an idea and that idea becomes reality?

‘We wanted to introduce young people to what’s possible for them in their city, and we have done that.

‘Events like this just up positively in the city, and it’s great for businesses, it’s great for kids, great for their parents.

‘I would like to make this an annual event – it should be in the calendar every year from now.’

Cath Longhurst, of the Portsmouth Education Business Partnership, described the event as ‘fabulous’.

She added: ‘We’ve had some amazing feedback from people on the stands, from parents saying they’ve seen companies here that they’ve never heard of before.

‘We’ve had people coming in from the street thanks to it being broadcast on the big screen, and they’re all families, which is really nice to see.

‘The response has been amazing. We’ve had people in who wouldn’t go to similar events, such as careers fairs, and it’s really opened people’s eyes to the things going on in the city that are really quite exciting.

‘A lot of the companies are saying ‘can we do this annually?’. As long as we have their support, I think that has to happen.’

Replay our live blog from the Portsmouth Opportunities Fair