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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Hundreds of Forest students inspired by event

More than 700 Year 9 students from six Forest of Dean schools attended a ground-breaking careers event yesterday (Thursday).

'Inspiring the Forest' was a day-long event organised by the Forest of Dean Economic Partnership (FEP) at Gloucestershire College's Cinderford campus.

The event's aim was to raise young people's future aspirations in the Forest of Dean with presentations from a wide array of businesses and organisations ranging from a welding company to local NHS.staff.

And Punchline editor Mark Owen was there to find out what it was all about.

Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien and chair of the Forest of Dean Enterprise Partnership, said: "Inspiring the Forest is all about getting businesses to work closely with schools and getting kids engaged in the careers that are going to be available in the future.

"One of the biggest challenges we have is getting talented people to recognise that there are jobs available in the Forest of Dean. It's all about engaging with the kids, and letting them understand that there are opportunities in the Forest and maybe they don't need to travel away.

"We think apprenticeships are the answer. They need to be used alongside the other techniques we can use to bring people into the business."

Sandra Tyrrell, site principal of Gloucestershire College in Cinderford, said: "This is our first event. We are really privileged to be hosting the event for the Forest Economic Partnership. Its a fantastic opportunity for students to get a taste of what their future careers might look like and meet some people in those careers.

"We're here to talk about some of those qualifications they might need to work in those companies. So many young people at 16 don't know what they want to do so they've got to keep their options open.. It's all about seeing the different opportunities and inspiring those young people to think 'I can do this and can be confident to do this'.

"There are so many different opportunities for young have a look and see what's out there. If you want to go down the academic route, fantastic, but if you want to go down the technical route there are lots of different opportunities such as apprenticeships and T Levels coming through now."

Andy Bates, vice principal and chief financial officer of Gloucestershire College, said: "We work with over 1,500 Gloucestershire businesses so we are by far the largest provider of training for Gloucestershire businesses and we work with hundreds of local Forest businesses offering apprenticeships, work placements and work experience and businesses come and do guest lecturing for our students. We are here to provide the learners the experience and the skills to work in the Gloucestershire businesses and it's no different here in the Forest.."

Among the business representatives at the event was Graham Purvis, welding and installation manager at New Space in Lydney which employs 130 people.

Graham said: "We are showing them the welding equipment we use at NewSpace and see if we can get anybody interested in a career in welding. We are struggling to get welders these days. The youngsters don't seem to want to get involved in manufacturing too much so we are reaching out to see if we can get them interested at an early age. Maybe it's the kids not wanting to get their hands dirty or maybe it's the Playstation generation. But you can earn good money - top welders are on over £40,000 a year."

Also present was Andy Robertson, baker/chef at Harts Barn Cookery School, who talked about careers in the hospitality sector:

Andy said: "I'm just trying to get over to them how wide an industry it is. We often see the chefs on TV but there are so many other job roles available to young people and they are in such demand. There's a whole plethora of job roles that we need in the industry

"Top chefs are so hard to come by. It can be really well paid. I know chefs who are earning six figures. People will always want to eat and it's good fun if you like engaging with people. It's an exciting industry more so now than ever before with all the different types of restaurants and the ingredients that we have available that we never had before."

NHS staff from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust set up a ward displaying various medical equipment and gave the students a quiz about the different types of roles within the NHS, revealing that there are more than 350 roles available.

When asked by Punchline editor Mark Owen about what they wanted to be when they were older, a group of students from Dene Magna School in Mitcheldean gave answers ranging from welder, an architect, a radio DJ and a brain surgeon.

In the afternoon, parents, families and carers were invited to attend the event to see what it was all about.

At the end of the day, Punchline editor Mark Owen said: "There was a real buzz about the event. For the people doing the talks it was quite tiring but at the same time very rewarding and exhilarating.

"Punchline would like to congratulate the organisers and sponsors and everybody who took time out to talk to the kids. From my point of view it was an inspirational day and it was great to meet so many business people and watch them work their cotton socks off and inspire the next generation to stay not just in the Forest of Dean but to work in the county that they love."

If you have a business in the Forest of Dean which would like to get involved in the next event email 

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