Nearly 300 students from Leicester and Leicestershire schools and colleges networked with 148 employers at an exciting speed networking careers event, held at Leicester Racecourse.
The students aged between 13 and 18, took part in the region’s largest careers event of its kind, organised by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP).
Twenty-one schools/colleges, who are part of the LLEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network, attended the event. The morning session saw students ‘speed network’ with employers from many different business and public sector organisations. Morningside Pharmaceuticals, AXA PPP Healthcare, Crown Packaging, East Midlands Airport, Bluebird Care, Blaby District Council, NHS, Leicester City Football Club along with a great representation of smaller businesses like Truinvest were just some of the companies in attendance.
Pupils spoke to different employers in bursts of six minutes before the employer moved on to the next students. In that time students asked employers about their career path, job role, the organisation they work for and the steps to employment.
The event theme this year was #BrightFutures for young people across Leicester and Leicestershire to begin their career plans. All students were given a goodie bag that included a pair of sunglasses to wear as their future is so bright!
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP said: “It is fantastic to see this event in action. We continue to build more engagement between the world of education and business through our work with the Careers and Enterprise Company. It is so important for young people to understand the careers and routes to employment opportunities available to them and hear from businesses located in Leicester and Leicestershire who could be their future employer.
"Students don’t often get the chance to speak with so many ‘real employers’ in one morning. The event was oversubscribed with the number of schools and colleges wanting to attend. Careers Speed Networking provides the perfect opportunity for them to ask questions and find out all sorts of interesting things about business and what they need to do to get on that first rung of their career ladder.”
This year’s event was sponsored by Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals Limited. The company has been manufacturing and supplying quality generic and branded medicines to the UK and internationally for over 28 years.
Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Chief Executive of Morningside Pharmaceuticals and LLEP Board member, said: “The LLEP’s Careers Speed Networking is one of the East Midlands’ flagship careers events and makes a real impact on both the students and employers taking part.
“Once again the speed networking proved to be an invaluable learning experience for the 300 students who attended. It was also a great opportunity for employers, like Morningside Pharmaceuticals, to connect with their future workforce and for the students to learn about the great career opportunities available in the many sectors represented.
“During the event 5 young people from Morningside took part in a live Q&A session, where they shared their experiences of joining the world of work, as well as the choices they made. Hearing from young people who have been in their shoes, undoubtedly, helped inform the students’ future decisions.
“The students were also a real credit to their schools, and I was very impressed with the way they conducted themselves throughout the event.”
Crown Packaging was one of the businesses supporting the event. Jacqui Stretton, HR Manager, said: "We make aluminium packaging for the food and beverage sector, mainly drinks cans that most people would recognise.
"As we make products on behalf of other brands, lots of people don't know about us. The students were really surprised to hear about a company in Leicester that makes every day products and has been doing so for over 40 years.
"The students were surprised to hear I was not a university graduate and I started as an apprentice and worked my way up to the management position I have now. They were keen to know what qualifications will help them in the future as well as if I must travel for my job and how much I earn.
"As an employer this has been a great opportunity to tell the students about what we look for when recruiting new staff and how our interview process works, so hopefully they now understand the importance of preparation for a job interview."
"The event has been absolutely fantastic, and I will definitely be involved again next year. I would highly recommend this event to other employers to raise their profile with the workforce of the future."
Angela Lakenpaul, Director at Bluebird Care (Market Harborough & Oadby), added: I attended the event with my sister who I run Bluebird Care with. We were so excited and humbled to meet such focused pupils from across Leicestershire. The world of work can feel bewildering for young people, and now more than ever, the career options are endless. An event like this would have been invaluable when we were at school.
"It was important to talk the pupils through our experiences and how the power of believing in yourself makes for a fulfilling career. From a young age we were very determined to support our mother with her dream of living a full and independent life whilst managing her epilepsy.
Through this experience we realised how we can help others by providing high quality home care.
"The pupils enjoyed hearing how the skills we gained in previous legal and business careers, proved invaluable in our current roles as Directors of our leading national home care company.
"We also talked about removing the stigma of talking about mental health in the workplace, and encouraged the pupils to be drivers of this change as future employers and employees.
"This event was a fantastic initiative, bringing together employers from all sectors and varying experiences, with pupils, all in one place. We are already looking forward to next year."
The LLEP is looking for Enterprise Advisers to help support local schools and increase engagement with local businesses. To find out more about volunteering to become an Enterprise Adviser, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit here.