Nearly 300 students from Leicester and Leicestershire schools and colleges networked with 150 employers at an exciting speed networking careers event, which took place at Leicester Racecourse on Friday 9 November.
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 (LLEP) as part of the Leicester Business Festival. Leicester College took some engineering students down to experience speed networking.
Twenty-one schools/colleges, who are part of the LLEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network, sent pupils to the event. The morning session saw students ‘speed network’ under timed conditions with employers from many different business and public sector organisations. Morningside Pharmaceuticals, AXA PPP Healthcare, Crown Packaging, East Midlands Airport, Highcross Leicester, HORIBA MIRA, BT, NHS, Santander and Matiolli Woods were 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 they asked employers about their career path, job role, the organisation they work for and the steps to employment.
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP said: “We are working hard to build more engagement between schools, colleges and businesses through our work with the Careers and Enterprise Company. It is so important for young people to understand the employment opportunities available to them locally and which companies are located in Leicester and Leicestershire.
“Students don’t often get the chance to speak to so many ‘real employers’ in one morning and the event was oversubscribed with the number of schools and colleges wanting to attend. This event provides the perfect forum 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 25 years.
Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Chief Executive of Morningside Pharmaceuticals and LLEP Board member, said: “I felt very privileged to be one of the employers taking part in the speed networking event. What struck me was how engaged and well prepared every young person I spoke to was.
“I was also immensely proud of our three young Morningside apprentices and a graduate who took part in a Q&A session, on stage, about their choices and experiences of the world of work. Hearing their first-hand accounts undoubtedly made a lasting impression on the students, and will help them make better informed decisions about their futures, when the time comes.
“The students who took part are the potential future workforce for our Leicestershire businesses. It was an excellent opportunity for both employers and students to connect and for the students to learn about the great career opportunities available in the many sectors represented.”
Crown Packaging was one of the businesses supporting the event. Kevin Cox, Sustainability Manager, said: “We are a company that makes 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 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 have to 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.”
AXA PPP Healthcare were one of the larger employers supporting the event. Helen Bradshaw, Head of SME Client Delivery, said:
“This is the first time I have attended this event and it’s great to see so many other like-minded employers who want to work with young people in schools and colleges to help develop career aspirations.
“Lots of students wanted to know if I needed a degree to do my job. I did not go to university and I don’t have any A-levels. I have worked hard and learnt and developed new skills along the way to be the best I can be in my job.
“I have really enjoyed meeting the students and helping them to understand more about what we do in the financial services sector and why AXA is a great place to work.”
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 Saahera Mahomed, (Enterprise Coordinator) or visit the website.
Pictured: A local employer meets students to talk about career opportunities
Picture: 150 employers and 300 students at the Careers Speed Networking event – Leicester Race Course 9 November 2018