Engineering and manufacturing will play a key role at this year's Skills Show at Birmingham NEC in November, the organisers have said.
Ross Maloney, chief executive of Find a Future, which organises the show and also WorldSkills, told PE that he was keen for more engineering firms to come on board as sponsors and exhibitors in advance of the event, which is expected to attract more than 75,000 schoolchildren, parents and teachers.
“We want to be able to enable young people to make informed choices and understand the potential that they have,” he said.
The scale of The Skills Show compares favourably with the Big Bang science and engineering fair, which attracted more than 75,000 visitors to the NEC in March.
The Skills Show uses experiential, hands-on exhibits to demonstrate the value of vocational careers and backs it up with with independent advice.
Maloney said: “It's absolutely critical to have engineering companies on board with an ageing population in terms of the workforce in traditional engineering and manufacturing. There's also an issue about shifting perceptions and engineering is at the forefront of our economic growth and recovery.”
Apprenticeships are playing a key role in this. “I think it's important to recognise that apprenticeships were always around, there was just a decline,” Maloney said.
“We demonstrate the breadth of opportunity that is afforded through apprenticeships. The current government is clear on the need to raise the number of apprenticeships. It's seen as a way of getting out of the downturn, and we are a shop window for that.
“Let's not forget we are preparing for jobs that don't exist at the moment. We need to be sure the government is absolutely behind them.”
Maloney said it would take time for The Skills Show to demonstrate an impact on industry. Paul Jackson, chief executive of Engineering UK, expects the Big Bang to staring bearing fruit around the end of the decade. Maloney said: “It's important that these shows are not one hit wonders. There has to be a sustained campaign over a period of time.”