HUNDREDS of youngsters had a helping hand choosing their next steps in life thanks to a big careers fair organised by The Star.
Colleges and training providers joined representatives from the charity Sheffield Futures at Don Valley Stadium, where Year 11 pupils from five South Yorkshire schools gathered for the What Next? event.
The schoolchildren, all aged 15 and 16, received advice on college courses, such as A Levels and GNVQs, as well as apprenticeships and options for full-time work.
The careers fair was the only free event of its kind aimed at students in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.
Young people are being encouraged to continue in education or training when they reach 16, as the Government proposes to raise the school leaving age to 18.
Suzanne Riley, aged 15, from Firth Park College in Sheffield, said she received helpful advice about apprenticeships at the careers fair.
“I wanted to find out about health and social care, I like caring for people and helping them out,” she said.
“I was told about apprenticeships in hospitals, which sound interesting. It’s quite difficult for Year 11 students, you have to make decisions very quickly.
“This event has definitely helped. I had thought about going to college before, but now I’m more into apprenticeships.”
Gemma Turner, 15, from Wingfield Business and Enterprise College in Rotherham, said she was interested in childcare training.
“In my Year Nine options I chose health and social care so I really want to carry that on and do childcare,” said Gemma, who lives in Thrybergh. You can work in a day care centre and things like that. But I also spoke to a lady who runs a hair salon and it’s maybe changed my mind a little bit.”
Gemma’s schoolfriend Jade Coombes, 15, from Kimberworth Park, said she was also planning to learn more about childcare.
“My mum had a baby about 18 months ago, and I was helping out and she said to me, ‘You’re really good at looking after children’. So that’s what made me think it was something I could go into.”
Dozens of stalls filled a sports hall at Don Valley, including stands from Sheffield University, Thomas Rotherham College and Advanced Apprenticeships. Sheffield College had a display promoting its forensic science courses, with a fake ‘crime scene’ for students to try to solve.
One of the most popular stalls was manned by Sam Duke from Sam’s Safaris, which offers educational school talks with exotic animals. Pupils got up close and personal with giant snails, gekkos, snakes and stick insects.
“Sheffield College do animal care courses, but they don’t have animals on site, so we go in and give students the chance to handle exotic creatures, and explain how to look after them,” Sam said.
“From each school there have been about five or six pupils who are really into it. There’s so many careers in animal care nowadays.”