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Business leaders urged to inspire the next generation as Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival is launched

PUBLISHED: 15:55 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 08 January 2018

Mark Nicholas, left, RNAA show and programmes director, and Chris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, the speakers at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mark Nicholas, left, RNAA show and programmes director, and Chris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, the speakers at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

‘Step forward to inspire the next generation of talent’ was the call delivered to business leaders at the launch of the county’s biggest careers event.

The launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY.The launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY.

The Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival will be held on March 7 and 8 at the Norfolk Showground Arena, when more than 5,000 students and young people from around 70 schools are expected to attend.

Mark Nicholas of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, which leads the coalition supporting the not-for-profit festival, urged companies to take the initiative as a way of solving the skills shortages affecting sectors from construction and engineering to digital and professional services.

“This is about informing and inspiring youngsters: it’s about planting the seeds in their minds for a return on investment in three or five years’ time,” he said.

“We have national and international-level companies coming - the likes of Audi, McDonald’s and KLM Engineering,” he said.

The launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“They are companies who spot the opportunity for them and have come to us. That tells me that we are starting to pick up a bit of profile in the county.”

He said interest levels were higher in 2018 than previous years, but exhibitors were still being sought in professional services, food and farming, and science and innovation.

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said companies had to enthuse young people about the opportunities in the county.

“We don’t talk about success in the way I think we should. We either don’t talk about it or we caveat it,” he said.

Mark Nicholas, RNAA show and programmes director, speaks at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMark Nicholas, RNAA show and programmes director, speaks at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The region is growing and has huge numbers of opportunities. We’re on the front foot.

“If we can talk passionately about that, it will start filtering down into the education sector. We will stop seeing the migration of students who qualify and move away. We can retain our brightest in all sorts of roles where their skills are desperately needed and we can start to make things a little more exciting for everyone.”

Exhibition and sponsorship opportunities for the festival are still available, with information available through a new website at www.norfolkskills.co.uk

The Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival is supported by a coalition which includes Archant, Beacon East, City College Norwich, Easton and Otley College, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk County Council and the Norwich School.

The Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival is supported by a coalition which includes Archant, Beacon East, City College Norwich, Easton and Otley College, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk County Council and Norwich School.

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the launch of the Norfolk Skills and Careers Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Find out more at Norfolkskills.co.uk

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