This year’s IOP Technical Careers Fair will take place on Friday 9th November 2018 from 10am to 2pm in The Student Zone, North West Regional College, Strand Road, Derry/Londonderry.

Registration will open in September on the IOP Conferences website.

Last year’s fair was  widely welcomed for its clear advice to students – and their teachers – on the many technical career paths open to school-leavers.

The genesis of the fair was the Institute’s desire to increase engagement with physics apprentices and technicians, to be more inclusive and to bridge a gap in the market for practical dialogue between potential apprentices and employers. The event was sold out.

Hosting the fair at Belfast’s Metropolitan College (BMC) made sense, but was also a challenge: the college ran a healthy apprenticeship programme – but none in the sciences.  The college’s non-science apprenticeship programme chimes with national figures.  In the UK there were around 509,400 apprenticeships in the academic year 2015/16, but of these only a disappointing 470 were science apprenticeships.

So for the college, IOP and employers, the day was about exploring whether or not there is demand for clear pathways to technical apprenticeships from school-leavers and employers alike. In front of an audience of over three hundred 15- to 18-year-old students, from a mixture of 10 state, grammar and independent schools, the question of two-year technical apprenticeships was examined and exemplified – and the answer to the question was an emphatic Yes.

Last year’s fair was opened by Dr Stephen Farry of BMC, followed by a number of invited speakers who had themselves progressed through practical vocational routes. Other speakers included a technical training provider and an employer – and a total of 18 employers exhibited.

Feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive. Students found it very informative, and employers were surprised by the genuine interest and enthusiasm that the students showed, delighting their teachers.

Vishanti Fox, IOP careers & CPD manager, said: “This fair has demonstrated a huge desire from employers, students and teachers in Northern Ireland to seriously consider science and technical career routes. We will continue to support and lead the way in this area.

“Events like this are a fantastic way for IOP to facilitate employer and apprentice connections.  And as a direct result of this technical careers fair, two of the exhibiting companies are now going to work together on a technical apprentice project.

“And personally, I, and the Irish team, absolutely loved being part of something that makes a real difference.”