Businesses urge young people to think about the future

The biennial Future Fair encouraged young people to make plans for their futures

Young people looking to the future were encouraged to think outside the box by regional and national businesses and universities at the recent biennial Futures Fair.

The fair, which is run and hosted by Dame Allan’s Schools, saw more than 1000 attendees speaking with over 100 businesses, educational establishments and training providers.

Amongst those in attendance was Regional Director of the CBI and alumna of Dame Allan’s Sarah Glendinning. The CBI provides a voice for businesses across the UK and feeds this into Parliament. Sarah, who has an active interest in education, gave a talk called ‘What Really are My Options?’, where she discussed the importance of adaptability and soft skills.

The world of work is changing, and schools and teachers need to catch up – Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director of the CBI

“The world of work is changing, and schools and teachers need to catch up. Businesses and industry are evolving so quickly that many of the skills our young people are learning are for jobs that haven’t been created yet. It is so important that events like this are held to offer advice and guidance to students who are faced with an ever changing world. We need to raise the value of vocational education and ensure that careers advice goes from play level to A-Level. Skills are the currency of the 21st century,” she said.

Learning about the past as well as the future with Beamish Museum

The packed programme included over 70 stalls representing a variety of businesses and employers including from the armed forces, Reece Group, the Laing Art Gallery, the NHS, Beamish Museum and many more.

Representatives from universities, including Oxford, Durham, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Queen’s Belfast joined over 40 more who travelled from across the country to attend. Dr Eleanor Parker, Student Recruitment Officer for the University of Oxford, said: “Fairs such as this give students the opportunity to make informed choices about the path they want to take, and inspire them to realise their potential.”

There were 30 presentations on a variety of careers from industry leaders including Matt Boyle, President and CEO of Sevcon who brought along an electric motorbike. Matt described the fair as “a superb opportunity for young people to see what careers are available to them in the North East and beyond. 

The topics of the talks, which parents were also welcome to attend, ranged from writing personal statements to digital hi-tech apprenticeships to careers in medicine.

Careers advice is particularly topical this year, having been the focus of much government debate. Very recently Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a new scheme in an attempt to support schools in their careers advice and links with employers. Last month the TES published data which showed a profound mismatch between available vacancies and the areas young people want to work in.

Two of the students who enjoyed making the most of the Futures Fair were Mark Evans in Year 12 and Georgia White in Year 11. Mark, who will be leaving Dame Allan’s in just over a year said: “The fair is absolutely fantastic. Our Head of Careers Mrs Whitehouse works so hard to make sure we have the opportunity to make informed decisions about what we want to do. I’m still not sure what I will do when I leave Dame Allan’s, but this fair has helped me get more information, discount things that I know aren’t for me and it’s motivated me to find out more. It’s also been really nice to have been joined by other local schools.”

Finding out about Oxford University

Principal of Dame Allan’s Schools Dr John Hind said: “The Futures Fair is a wonderful event in the Schools’ calendar which gives students the opportunity to meet with a huge range of representatives from across the UK and beyond to get advice and guidance. We have an excellent and very well used careers service at Dame Allan’s and the Futures Fair, which tops it all off, prepares our young people for life beyond Dame Allan’s.”

The Futures Fair was particularly impressive as it met all of the eight national ‘Gatsby’ benchmarks which set out good practice guidelines for schools. Ryan Gibson who is leads the Gatsby benchmarks project for the North East attended the Futures Fair and said: “It was a pleasure to attend the Futures Fair and to observe the fantastic career conversations happening between students, their parents, teachers, employers, universities and apprenticeship providers.”

The Futures Fair was open to Dame Allan’s students from Year 7 to 13 who were joined by visiting students from St Thomas More School Blaydon and Kenton School. Dame Allan’s Schools are a group of independent schools in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Schools were founded in 1705 with the Girls’ School believed to be one of the oldest independent girls’ schools in the country. The schools are pioneering in their offering of the ‘diamond model’ of education, meaning students receive the academic benefits of single sex education, with the social advantages of co-education.

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