Get ready for workplace of the future as Skills NI hits Belfast
ONE of the most significant contributions businesses can make to support young people in school and college is around careers advice and work inspiration, according to a survey by the CBI.
With this in mind, the doors will open tomorrow on Northern Ireland’s biggest careers fair — a one-stop expo and interactive experience for youngsters looking for careers inspiration and information.
Skills Northern Ireland at the Titanic Exhibition Centre tomorrow and Thursday, is aimed at 14 to 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.
The event will launch with a Business Breakfast at Belfast Met’s Titanic Quarter Campus, with speakers including Tommy O’reilly, deputy secretary for Education and Children’s Services at the Department of Education, Gordon Parkes, HR director at NIE Networks, and Dr Deirdre Hughes, chairperson of Skills NI.
And the exhibition will feature more than 80 organisations and over 8,000 pre-booked visitors over the two days.
Dr Hughes said: “Northern Ireland is leading the way in how we educate young people in a fast-changing economy. Businesses, education and training providers coming together is exciting and essential for our nation’s future prosperity.
“We need to give more insights to the world of work, share opportunities and provide young people with a sense of hope and optimism for their future lives.
“Skills NI is a fantastic way to show how we combine learning and its relevance to the world of work. It taps into starting early with career conversations, tackling any misconceptions and providing inspiration, information and role models.”
Gabrielle Mcevans, project manager of Skills NI, said: “For companies wishing to target young people as recruits, students, employees, apprentices, customers or their parents, families or teachers, then Skills NI is the ideal platform to engage with them.
“In the Get Skilled area, young people can have a go at lots of different skills, and discover new talents. They can learn to be a zookeeper by handling real-life animals, find out if they’ve got what it takes to become a newsreader in the BBC’S mock news studio, try their hand as an NIE engineer, using Virtual Reality technology to experience the dizzy heights of electricity engineering whilst climbing up a virtual pole or give a safety demonstration to passengers before their flight with the aviation students from Belfast Met.”
NIE Networks is the event’s headline sponsor and its HR director, Gordon Parkes, said: “We are pleased to be headline sponsor of this important careers event to showcase the careers available in the marketplace.
“It is extremely important to our society and our economy that young people possess the skills required by employers.
“The current position is far from satisfactory with many em- ployers unable to source individuals with the appropriate skills and numerous young people still unemployed.
“There is certainly a ‘skills mismatch’, which needs to be addressed collectively through an integrated approach led by employers and supported by local government, schools, colleges and universities.
“NIE Networks provides highly qualified skilled apprenticeships and graduate programmes, however, each year we struggle to obtain the required numbers to take up these positions.”
Many employers are seeing the benefits — and school leavers are seeing the appeal of a rapidly expanding range of earn-whileyou-learn apprenticeship oppor- tunities in new areas including accountancy, software engineering and electrical engineering.
Dr Alison Sweeney of NI Water said: “In 2017 we saw an intake of 12 apprenticeships to NI Water and we’re delighted to be attending Skills NI again as it provides us with an excellent platform to showcase our apprenticeship capabilities and forecast the potential for our apprentice intake in 2018.”
A student on the NI Water stand at the Skills NI event