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‘Reverse job fair’ reaps success for supported interns

Posted onPosted on 9th Jul

West Nottinghamshire College’s supported internship team, in conjunction with Nottinghamshire County Council, hosted a jobs fair with a difference.

A ‘reverse jobs fair’ sees the standard model of a job fair, where interested candidates approach a range of employers’ stalls, turned on its head. Instead employers such as Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield Palace Theatre, Clumber Park, Mansfield District Council, Skanska, Capita, Integrated Doorsets, as well as West Nottinghamshire College, were welcomed into the college’s sports hall where interns – more than 20 current and previous students who have studied on the college’s supported internship programmes – had set up their own stalls.

At each stall, interns displayed their top skills, evidence of previous work placements and experience, and photographs of them performing a range of roles within administration, grounds work, warehousing, retail, cleaning, customer service skills, and more.

Employers were able to visit each student to offer constructive criticism on their current CVs, ask them more about their skills within certain industry areas as well as offer appointments for job trials, interviews, and mentorship.

Liam Robson, of Boughton, who was one of the former interns showcasing his range of skills, completed his Level 2 Supported Internship programme in 2021. He said: “I studied catering at the college at entry level 3 and level 1 and then after those courses I studied on the internship programme.

“During that course I went on a placement with Gedling Borough Council working in the grounds and gardens. After leaving college didn’t do much else, so my aim is to now meet lots more employers to show them my skills and hopefully find new opportunities for work.

“I would like to get into premises work following my experience with Gedling Borough Council, but I would be open to going into industries where I hold other skills. Today I’ve had my CV ready to hand out to people, made notes of the various companies and who has been to speak to me and write down any opportunities that I can follow up on.”

Julie Grummet, senior practitioner for SEND and employability at the county council, said: “This jobs fair format has enabled us to flip the traditional format on its head to help the young people to feel more comfortable.

“They’ve been able to sit down in a calm environment, taking away some of the nervousness and stress. They’ve all been really prepared having their up-to-date information displayed regarding the kind of work experience they’ve undertaken so far.

“Some may still get jobs from their existing placement providers, but today is a brilliant opportunity for them to get to talk to different employers, maybe get offered a work experience appointment or a job interview.”

The college’s employability and SEND manager, Louise Dakin, said: “It’s been really good to see so many employers come in to speak to our young people and find out more about their many talents. A lot of our interns can still be quite shy and nervous, so today’s different approach has really helped to settle them.

“It’s been a great success and the employers have been really impressed by the students’ preparedness and keenness to seek new opportunities for work experience and job vacancies. I’m incredibly proud to hear that two interns have received job offers and there have been several offers of interviews and to visit organisations.”