During the COVID pandemic most of the year 11 students in Cumbria missed out on the opportunity to engage directly with a variety of apprenticeship providers, FE and HE provision and employers from various sectors in the county. The team at Inspira were determined not to see this happen again this year and decided to host a virtual careers fair which would go ahead regardless of the COVID situation.
The Our Future Virtual Careers Fair took place on Wednesday 20th October 2021 and was organised by Inspira in partnership with Cumbria Careers Hub and Hello Future. It was aimed at Year 11 students (although there were attendees from other year groups) to help them make informed choices about their future careers and their next steps. It gave them the exciting opportunity to meet employers, training providers, colleges, sixth forms and Cumbria HE providers all in one place.
The event was hosted between the hours of 1.30 pm – 6.30 pm to enable as many students as possible could participate whether they were at school or at home with parents/carers and we were delighted that over 2000 students, parents and teachers with school groups could join us.
Attendees had the chance to meet over 85 exhibitors and the opportunity to network through live or video chat, discuss opportunities and attend live talks.
The Careers Fair was hosted on a virtual platform called UK Careers Fair which mirrored an in-person event for both attendees and exhibitors. There were five main zones: Apprenticeship and Training Providers, HE & FE provision, Sixth Forms, Employers, and a Careers area where young people and their parents/carers could access impartial careers information, advice and guidance.
There was also a jobs board advertising the latest apprenticeship and training opportunities, and an activity resource area filled with downloadable information about employability, skills, and top tips.
The attendees also had the opportunity to attend three live talks:
- Our Future Career Opportunities in Cumbria (hosted by Jo Tate -Enterprise Co-ordinator at Cumbria Careers Hub)
- Your options after year 11 (hosted by Inspira)
- How to stand out from the crowd (hosted by Inspira – with guest speakers; Emma Porter – MD at Story Contracting, Melanie Taylor – Director at MT Associates and Liam Edgley – County Youth Commissioner at Cumbria Scouts).
Engagement and promotion:
To help develop an event that truly met the requirements of schools and young people; a working group working group was formed which included school representatives from around the county. This ensured that the team were able to deliver a successful, engaging, and meaningful event which was guaranteed to be highly attended.
To help ensure maximum attendance, the event was promoted to pupils and their parents/carers directly through the school by a mix of assemblies, videos and emails which highlighted the importance of attending and how to use the platform. Inspira and its partners also externally promoted the event via social media, online advertising, website advertising and PR.
The virtual event was a success, attracting over 2000 participants from around the county. It’s hard to think of any other event (live or virtual) that has had the ability to facilitate communication between year 11 students with employers, providers and FE/HE provision all from all corners of Cumbria in one place.
The three live talks were extremely popular, attracting over 640 viewers in total on the day.
Feedback from the day confirmed that the event was well received and a popular way for students and parents alike to talk with participating organisations and to be able to get excellent careers advice and information.
|No of exhibitors:||86|
|Most popular zone:||Employer|
|Most popular live talk:||Post 16 options|
|Number of schools participating:||41|
85% of participants enjoyed the event
72% of participants say they now have enough information to plan their next steps