Businesses to inspire young people over future careers at Skills NI exhibition

Virtual reality technology being demonstrated at last year's Skills Northern Ireland exhibition
Virtual reality technology being demonstrated at last year's Skills Northern Ireland exhibition

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.

The event, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre on October 18-19, 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.

The event will launch at 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, NIE Networks and Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE.

“This is the second year of the event and following its massive success last year, we’re bringing together more than 80 organisations and expecting over 8000 pre-booked visitors over the two days,” said Skills NI project manager Gabrielle McEvans.

“There’s a huge appetite for it, both from the students’ perspective and from the employers’ point of view.

“For companies wishing to target young people as recruits, students, employees, apprentices, customers or their parents, families or teachers, then Skills Northern Ireland 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 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; become a broadcast journalist in the BBC’s mock news studio; or try their hand at the safety demonstration given to passengers before their flight with the Aviation students from Belfast Met.”

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.

“The skills mismatch needs to be addressed collectively, through an integrated approach led by employers and supported by local government, schools, colleges and universities,” said Gordon Parkes, HR director of headline sponsor NIE Networks.

“We, like many other big employers in Northern Ireland, struggle to obtain the required numbers to take up high quality graduate jobs and apprenticeships. And yet there are numerous young people still unemployed. More needs to be done and this event is a very positive step in the right direction.”