Southend Connexions 2012

ICE Essex recently supported a careers fair for Southend 13-19 students held at the Southend Connexions centre in Shoeburyness.  It was a full day affair with students bussed in from the many schools in the area.  I was there for the day and was ably assisted by Laing O’Rourke graduate engineer Matthew (Matt) Fitch.  We supported the event last year and I was keen to support again this time around being a relatively local resident.

We have supported this type of event in the past with varying degrees of success and like other formats it has its pros and cons.  There was certainly a good number of students through the door – just shy of 1000 according to the organisers –  however the majority of the students were probably there because they had to be rather than because they wanted to be.  That said we were reasonably busy throughout the day with general enquires from some and detailed discussions with others.  I guess we talk to 20-25 students with a genuine interest in a career in civil engineering construction in some form.

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The event – organised by Southend Connexions – was well supported with 50 or so stands.  The majority of the stands were university and further education organisations – which helped when we had queries about courses – with relatively few actual employers.  The ICE appeared to be the only professional body represented.  The guys from Kier were there again opposite us and there were 2 or 3 other local engineering firms represented.  The Army boys were also attending in their camo gear.

Recently signed up STEM ambassador Matt Fitch of Laing O’Rourke came and helped out in the morning and did stirling work.  This was his first event for ICE Essex of this type so was good experience.  It was good to spend time chatting with Matt in the quieter moments and he brought a younger face to our stand which was welcome.  Matt spoke to the students confidently and knowledgeably – so I let him get on with it for the most part.

A large proportion of the queries we received related to apprenticeships and routes into the industry through this route which was unsurprising.  Most were related to trades but a few were for apprenticeships in more professional areas of engineering and management.  A handful of enquiries did relate to the fastrack route to Chartered membership via university and company training agreements which was reassuring.

I had my laptop on throughout the day showing videos examples of 3D/4D modelling (BIM) which is a hot topic in the industry at the moment.  This proved to be quite a good hook to get passers by interested.  Many students appear interested in the more creative side of the industry in disciplines such as architecture and technical drawing.  I did emphasise that bright young computer literate students would be very employable in these new disciplines in our industry – which seemed to be well received.

All in all the event was worth attending as even those who didn’t stop by for a chat will have subconsciously registered the term Civil Engineering from our banner and a few contacts with careers advisers and teachers were made which may assist in reaching other students in due course.

A few photographs of the event included below.  An album of photos can be found on my photosharing website here.

A big thank you to Matt for helping out on the day.

The Civil Engineering stand
The event was busy all day
An early customer talking to Matt Fitch
Matt explaining routes to ICE membership
Busy busy busy
The Kier stand (they had sweets!)
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