National Careers Week helps students to shape their futures

Last week, staff and students at Withernsea High School engaged in a number of activities in support of National Careers Week – an annual celebration of careers information, advice and guidance.

The aim of the week is to help support young people as they prepare to leave compulsory education by bringing together local employers, careers advisers, guest speakers and representatives from further education providers to impart crucial knowledge, helping students make informed choices about their futures. 

The week launched on Monday 5th March with a Year 7 assembly delivered by Natalie Harrichand, an Electrical Engineer at Centrica Storage, who spoke about her personal career journey and the range of opportunities available within the company. 

Across the whole school, in an effort to educate students on the varied routes people can take when choosing the right career, members of staff were encouraged to display posters on their classroom or office doors detailing their previous jobs and the skills that they had acquired while working. The aim behind this was for students to understand the variety of experiences that had shaped the futures of the people they encounter on a daily basis.

Throughout the week, a digital presentation located in the main student forum scrolled definitions of key terminology used in the world of work and the search for jobs, plus a selection of inspirational quotes from business leaders.

Students were also given the opportunity to find out key information about specific jobs including roles in the Police Force, Construction and Farming, thanks to a number of posters displayed around the site which delivered important facts and figures. These included: starting rates of pay; average salaries; the approximate number of job openings available, the typical hours worked per week and the estimated number of people currently employed in each role.   

Faculties across the school contributed to the week by setting aside time in lessons to discuss a range of careers linked with their subjects and the educational pathways that students would need to follow to achieve them.

In the Design Technology faculty, teachers used online resources and personal experience to describe career pathways, employment opportunities and the associated skills required to enhance them.

In Science, guest speaker Daniel Bisby spoke to approximately 150 students in years 9 and 10 about his background as a lift engineer - a trade which led him to his current position as an insurance assessor for Allianz. Using his specialist knowledge of lifts and cranes, Mr Bisby now tests their safety to determine whether they are insurable. The students learned about his route into work, which began with a local apprenticeship, and the qualifications he has gained along the way. 

In French, subject-specific careers advice was brought to life through a visit from Kerry Gillies - owner of professional translation agency Synergy Language Services. Mrs Gillies delivered a workshop to Year 9 GCSE students, providing them with an insight in to how languages can be studied at degree level alongside other disciplines such as Law and Engineering. Students learned how a language degree could open doors for access to the global jobs market - doors which would otherwise remain closed to those without language qualifications.  

The students listened as Mrs Gillies described her route to success which began with four years of studying French and Russian at the University of Bradford, during which time she spent six months studying in Russia and a further six months living and working in France, before graduating and finding employment as a project manager at a translation agency in Leeds. The students heard first-hand how these experiences and hard work eventually enabled her to launch her own company in 2009.

Careers Fair

On Tuesday, 6th March, a successful Careers Fair was held in the school hall. Representatives from a wide variety of over 20 organisations including Humberside Police, South Holderness Medical Practice, James Legal Solicitors and the Hull School of Art and Design, were on-hand to answer questions and share information with the students.

It was particularly pleasing to see a
number of former students representing their employers at the fair.

Among them were Maisie Hollingsworth and Jess Horth, both of whom now work for South Holderness Medical Practice. Maisie, who left Sixth Form in 2013,
commented: ‘Jess and I are both
ex-students who are now working locally as health professionals at Withernsea surgery.

We believe it is important to come back for careers events, to share our
experiences and show current students the opportunities that exist in the local community and beyond’.

PHOTO: Jess Horth (left) and Maisie Hollingsworth

VIDEO: Highlights of the Careers Fair

The fair ran throughout the afternoon, with all students in Years 9 and 11 being taken off-timetable and given an allotted 20 minute time slot to visit the stalls and explore their options. After school, the fair was opened up to parents, carers and interested students from all other year groups.

Ahead of the event, representatives from the Hull School of Art and Design delivered a talk to over 60 students from years 10 to 13 about creative careers in Architecture, Design, Media, Fine Art and Journalism. While Claire Turnbull, WHS Hair and Beauty teacher, spoke to students in Years 8 and 11 about careers and further education in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy.

Inspirational Women

A key theme of the week was the success of women in business and the world of work, a theme which was accentuated by last Thursday’s International Women’s Day – an annual celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

Female inventors were celebrated through a series of posters which recognised their achievements and included examples such as Lady Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer who is credited with being the inventor of the modern day Computer Programme. Among the other successful women celebrated were Mary Anderson, the American inventor of the Windscreen Wiper, and Tabitha Babbitt – inventor of the Circular Saw.

On the back of International Women’s Day, it was fitting that the school’s involvement with National Careers Week concluded with a trip to the ‘Women into Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME)’ event at the Guildhall in Hull.

On Friday 9th March, a group of students from Years 8, 9 and 12 took part in the event which was designed to encourage, inspire and help women in Hull and the East Riding to discover the opportunities available to them in the traditionally male-dominated fields of Manufacturing and Engineering.

Trip leader, Miss Davis, commented: ‘In the Humber region, manufacturing contributes 17% of our employment compared with 8.7% for England – and this number is set to grow thanks to the investment in renewable energy. However, despite the high demand for people with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) qualifications, women are still under-represented in these roles.'

‘Providing students with the opportunity to attend events such as WiME is crucial in ensuring that young women don’t feel isolated, giving them the confidence to apply for jobs in these industries.’ 

The WiME initiative has the support of local companies, including Siemens Gamesa, the Swift Group and Airco Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Limited.

Speaking after the event, Year 8 student Alice Clay said: ‘My visit to the Guildhall was amazing. It has opened my eyes to the opportunities available to girls in engineering’. Trinity Jackson, also in Year 8, added: ‘My favourite part was learning about the opportunities available and meeting inspiring women. It has encouraged me to stand out and ignore female stereotypes.’

Year 9 student Shauna Golden commented: ‘I learned a lot about what different companies do and how they are looking for women with different talents and ideas. It has made me think about exactly what I want to aim for - and that is working in the construction of wind turbines at Siemens’.

PHOTOS (BELOW): Students enjoyed finding out about a range of careers at the WiME event on Friday 9th March.

Commenting on the events of the week as a whole, Assistant Headteacher Beci Pindar said: ‘It was fantastic to see so many teachers and students getting involved in National Careers Week.

'At a time of high youth unemployment, there has never been a greater need for careers guidance to be promoted and celebrated in education. We engaged with many local employers who visited our school during the week and I am grateful to them all for their support.

'Offering students the opportunity to engage with employers and businesses is important in helping to inspire them as they explore the full range of pathways open to them when they leave school.

'Having already expanded on the success of last year’s events, we are already looking forward to making next year’s careers week an even greater success.’

Senior Science Technician Viki Foster, co-organiser of the week’s activities, added: ‘It was a busy week in school and everyone worked together to create a range of activities that showed the students the different careers that they could choose from.

I would like to thank all our visitors who attended the careers fair; gave talks and helped to inspire the next generation of employees. As always, our students were a credit to themselves and the school and I’m sure last week’s activities will have helped them immensely.’

The events of National Careers Week form a small part of the on-going careers advice, information and guidance that is delivered throughout the year to students of the school.

Back in January, the whole Year 11 cohort took part in a ‘Your Futures’ careers day.

The year group was split into two, with both groups following different activities throughout the day.

While one group took part in a range of activities delivered by Newcastle University, which included talks on study skills, STEM Careers and the expectations of university students, the second group took part in a series of workshops based around CV writing, interview tips and employability skills. These workshops prepared them for a mock interview scenario which was delivered in the afternoon with the help of local employers and business people.

Outside of the interviews students were also given talks on apprenticeships, delivered by representatives from Cranswick Country Foods, plus an insight in to student life and career options from guest speakers from Hull University and Hull College respectively.

Viki Foster commented: ‘Our students showed a real commitment to learning during the course of the day and this showed through their work and their interviews. We had some very positive comments from our visitors.

'We would like to thank all our visitors for taking part in the day and for helping to create such a positive atmosphere around careers and the student’s next steps. Days like these wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of our visitors, local businesses, volunteers and school staff.’

PHOTOS ABOVE:  Mock Interviews took place to help students prepare for the world of work and guest speakers from Newcastle University prepared students for student life.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 27th February, Year 8 students were given the opportunity to watch a live drama production titled ‘Steps to Success’. The production focussed on the importance of making the right choices at a time when Year 8 were choosing their options for GCSE study.  

Further careers events are planned throughout the rest of this year and beyond and we look forward to sharing details of these with you in due course.