Case studies provided by an independent research agency. All names changed.
Schools and colleges
Jane, Careers Adviser, community arts school, Midlands
For the last three years, Jane has attended The Skills Show with the whole of Year 10. She feels attendance is now embedded in the school’s careers curriculum as an important source of impartial advice. It’s also an effective way to make young people aware of the range of study options open to students, not just traditional academic pathways.
She felt that for young people the live shows and exhibitions are particularly meaningful as they offer first hand examples of what pupils might expect from a career – they help students imagine the “end result” of choosing a particular career or what studying at college would be like. The interactive elements of the show were also very appealing. She feels the show is particularly useful for collecting resources and networking, and has approached employers to come and speak at her school as a result of attendance.
Jane feels the show offers teachers a broader outlook on courses, employers and the job options available to young people. It is a useful way of keeping teachers up-to-date with types of careers and jobs on offer to help advise their students.
Mary, Careers Adviser, secondary school, Cambridgeshire
The school has attended the show for a number of years and sees it as part of their wider agenda to raise aspirations and broaden their young people’s horizons. Over 40% of students in the school have English as a second language, and although many are academically bright, the language barriers often mean they are unable to reach their potential through taking GCSEs.
They have been motivated to return to the show due to the positive impact visiting has had on their young people. They have found that in many instances visiting the show sparked young people’s curiosity about the educational pathways open to them. While for some this meant investigating university and a commitment to stay at the school’s Sixth Form, others have approached their local colleges and asked about higher apprenticeships – as a result of this the school is now focusing on apprenticeships in partnership with their local college. It has also increased enrolment on some more practical courses at their school.
Students themselves have become advocates of the show, encouraging younger schoolmates to attend and explaining to them what it will be like. They have fed back that the blend of interactive content and information was useful.
Attending is seen as a good way of fostering young people’s aspirations and boosting confidence about the future.
Michael, Head of Careers & Sixth Form Progress Leader, secondary school, Midlands
Michael has been attending The Skills Show since 2013, finding it an effective way to introduction pupils to the breadth of options available to them and allowing them to make informed decisions about careers.
In previous years the school has found that the show has been particularly beneficial and engaging for Year 10 students, and that it has exposed them to careers they would not have previously been aware of. The school uses their visit to The Skills Show as a way of beginning conversations about careers and arranges a number of careers activities before and after the show to help young people think about their future.
The range of skills and employers at the show was felt to be the key to its success and influence. The school has received a number of positive impacts through attendance, including recognition from Ofsted.
“[Ofsted] were impressed with attending The Skills Show. It does tick a lot of boxes for impartial IAG.”
They have also made a number of connections at the show, who have subsequently come to the school.
Graham, Course Coordinator, FE College
The college is focused on supporting their young people to become work ready and feels attending The Skills Show is a way of achieving this, as it ties in with their “employability enrichment goals.” Attending the Skills Show is seen as a way to inspire young people about their options in industry.
Graham has found going to the show has impacted young people’s understanding of what vocational education means and the range of options in their sector. In this sense it can be a valuable way of reaffirming students’ own sense of employability and the purpose of their current studies, as well as highlighting the transferable skills they are acquiring at college.
The breadth of the show is particularly useful, as it allows his students to see more vocational opportunities than they would have otherwise believed existed, and become aware of sectors which they may otherwise have not known how to enter.
David, Principal, FE College
The college offers qualifications from entry level to Masters and specialises in construction and the built environment. The college has attended The Skills Show every year and are heavily involved in the WorldSkills UK Competitions – and they hope attending the show will inspire their young people to compete.
Competing allows their students to demonstrate their skills and talent and differentiate themselves from their peers in college and with employers.
The Principal felt it was necessary for the college to demonstrate they are capable of supporting young people to compete at such a high level and that this acts as an effective marketing tool for the college. Because they believe competitions are such an effective tool, the college has embedded competitions in their curriculum – even at the college’s open days for parents they run competitions to let the parents engage with what their young person is doing while at the college.
Simon, Arts teacher, FE College
The college exhibits at the show year on year because of the positive benefits their young people have received as a result of being involved.
His students could gain exposure to the real world of work in their sector and build related commercial skills. Being at the show also helped them build their soft skills – they increased their confidence, their ability to speak about their art and network with potential clients. Simon also feels that going to The Skills Show widens young people’s understanding of what it means to be creative.