Businesses from across Northern Ireland will gather this week at the Skills NI Exhibition to showcase the jobs, apprenticeships, courses and training opportunities they have available to young people.
Those who have teenagers will know that the subject choices, the university and college courses and the potential job paths are dizzying in number and variety. How can we help our young people to make good choices and inspire them about future careers which will keep them here, building the future Northern Ireland economy, rather than brain-draining away to other parts of the world?
The Skills Northern Ireland event, which will take place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre on 7th and 8th November, is aimed at 14-19 year olds, their parents, their teachers and their influencers, to help enlighten them about jobs and careers choices, apprenticeships, courses, growing industry sectors and training opportunities. It’s Northern Ireland’s biggest careers fair of its kind, acting as a one-stop expo and interactive experience for youngsters looking for careers inspiration and information.
Gabrielle McEvans, Project Manager of Skills NI explained: “This is the third year of the event. Following its massive success last year, we’re bringing together more than 70 organisations and expecting over 8000 pre-booked visitors over the two days. There’s a huge appetite for it, both from the students’ perspective and from the employers’ point of view.
“Skills Northern Ireland is the ideal platform for companies wishing to target young people, whether that is to promote courses, apprenticeships, work experience or job opportunities. It’s also an opportunity to engage with the teachers and careers advisers who influence the career decisions of our future generation.
“It’s an important showcase of a new approach to joined up thinking between skills training and workforce planning to ensure companies in the region have the appropriately qualified staff they’ll need in years to come.”
Many of the employers attending the event see the benefits in terms of attracting the required numbers of local youngsters to take up positions as highly qualified apprentices or graduate programmes.
Gordon Parkes, HR Director at NIE Networks, the leading sponsor of this year’s event, is encouraging young people, teachers and parents to come along.
“Skills NI is about connecting talented young people with career and skills opportunities they may not have previously considered and helps them plan the best educational path to follow. This is the third year NIE Networks has sponsored the event and it’s immensely encouraging to see how interest has grown every year.
“The NIE Networks team will be on hand to provide further information about the range of career opportunities we offer including apprenticeships, work placements, graduate trainee programmes and scholarships. With such a demand for STEM skills this is an incredibly exciting time to join the industry especially with the expansion of renewable energy technology. NIE Networks are at the leading edge of developing innovative technology and platforms so I can’t encourage young people enough to visit us at Skills NI and see where their career could take them.”
Many employers are seeing the benefits – and school leavers are seeing the appeal – of a rapidly expanding range of earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship opportunities in new areas including accountancy, software engineering and electrical engineering.
Gabrielle McEvans said: “While this is an event geared for students, we would strongly encourage teachers, and in particular careers advisors, to come and make all the contacts they possibly can. By supporting closer working between education and business, we believe Skills NI can play a major role in shaping Northern Ireland’s economy.”
Skills NI is on 7th and 8th November in Titanic Exhibition Centre Belfast. To find out more about visiting visit www.skillsni.co.uk