The Skills Show

How many of us know a young (or not so young) person who’s struggling to figure out what they want to do with their life? I’m willing to wager it’s a fair few of us, fortunately there’s something pretty fantastic happening at the NEC this weekend: the Skills Show UK.

The Skills Show is a fairly unusual approach to getting young people interested in building up skills and considering their future career options. At first glance it appears to be a typical careers fair with a multitude of stands advertising companies, charities and educational opportunities. But the Skills Show is anything but typical – look a bit closer and you’ll see people welding sheet metal, producing stained glass, baking up delicious pastries, investigating mock crime scenes and performing aromatherapy massages.  Yes, what sets the Skills Show apart is it’s Have a Go opportunities. Attendees don’t just hear about opportunities for developing skills; they get to see them first hand and even try some out to see if they like it.

Today was just the first day of the Skills Show and it’s already produced some pretty impressive results including the creation of a world record breaking plait (361.41m long is you’re curious), crowds of over 20,000 visitors and appearances from famous faces including Dragon’s Den’s Theo Pathitis and Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear. On top of that, as well as all the exciting stuff happening actually at the NEC, businesses across Birmingham and the West Midlands have been working with local schools and colleges to put on Have a Go sessions on their premises. It really is good to hear that businesses in our region are taking an interest in helping young people develop their ambitions and skills, and even better to hear that young people are engaging back.

Youth unemployment is a big problem in the UK, and especially in Birmingham but nothing beats becoming a statistic better than skills. The Skills Show is free, you can register online or on the door and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more eye opening glimpse into the vast array of skills and career avenues available to today’s young people. And to top it all off, it’s great fun (who doesn’t enjoy trying out welding with chocolate?)

So if you know anyone who could use a dose of inspiration, career advice or just an opportunity to see what’s out there – send them down! Wandering round the show I caught myself wanting to test out bricklaying, try my hand at cooking up confectionery and have a go at building a robot – what will you feel inspired by?

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