Ely careers and skills fair shows over 1,000 students exactly what’s on their doorstep

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral - Credit: Archant

Proving that job prospects are constantly increasing in the area – Potter Logistics offers 50 different roles within its company alone – Ely Cathedral was abuzz with eager students searching for career options earlier this week.

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral - Credit: Archant

With stalls offering apprenticeships and courses in subjects ranging from agriculture right through to zoology and virtually everything in between - the army, fire service, health service, language translation and sport - pupils were thoroughly spoilt for the choice.

Now in its second year the East Cambridgeshire Careers & Skills Fair 2015, relocated from its smaller premises at The Maltings and into a packed Ely Cathedral, welcomed over 1,000 year 11 and sixth form students from schools across the Ely area to meet and mingle with members from 57 locally based businesses.

Nikki Pritchett, work-related learning & enterprise co-ordinator at Ely College, said the fair offers “a nice mix.

“It’s really about supporting the local businesses and local economy. We want young people to feel like they can stay in the area and get a great job and experience.”

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral

East Cambs Careers and skills event Ely Cathedral - Credit: Archant

Anne Bailey, director of From the Future, added: “It’s about showing kids what’s on their doorstep. It’s also opening there eyes – I believe that if we give kids a sense of direction and a goal, then they are more likely to want to be educated.”

She said that the aim of the fair, which was jointly organised by Ely College, Ely Cathedral, East Cambridgeshire District Council and Form the Future CIC, is so that no more people will fall into the Not in Education or Training (NEAT) category.

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Phoebe Peacock, a student at Bottisham Village College, said she found the career fair very interesting.

“It’s really good because it makes you think about the future. I’m looking to stay around here and go into agriculture.”

Jackie Buxton, bank manager of Lloyds in Ely, said the fair is really good for the area.

“It’s been so well organised. I’m very impressed with the amount of businesses and children here, because last year there were a lot less.”

She said she started out as a cashier after choosing not to go to university and has worked her way up the business ladder.

“We are always looking for younger people to fill on-call vacancies,” she added. “All we ask is that they like talking to people.”

The fair is also useful to make students aware of what certain businesses actually do.

Kirsty Mackenzie, marketing manager at Potter Logistics, said: “We want to let people know that logistics isn’t just about driving trucks or sitting in a warehouse. There are so many different roles, from IT to sales to marketing.

“Career fairs like this are brilliant for making students aware of what logistics actually is and getting them to ask questions about the company.”

Tim Weil, a lecturer in zoology at the University of Cambridge, said the event is brilliant for the area.

“The teachers do a great job in getting the kids to look around everything and ask questions.

“The fact that it forms a hub and creates a lot of conversions is a great thing. It’s great for them to know that there are things out there.”

Chris Waugh, outreach officer at St Catherine’s College in Cambridge, added: “It’s fantastic that kids come here and have a full range of choices in front of them.”

Vicki Ashton, talent manager at Littleport based company JDR Cable Systems LTD, said: “We took on nine apprentices and five graduate designers last year. We just want to show people that there is manufacturing being done locally still and fairs like this are great to get the message out there.”

ECDC’s business development officer said the fair is invaluable in driving education development and promoting local business opportunities.

“It’s a good opportunity for the students to get a flavour of what life is like outside of school and get information about various careers.”



Shearline Precision Engineering

Technical sales

“I joined the company at 16-years-old when I began my four year apprenticeship. It was great to go around all of the different departments and also get to choose some to specialise in. I also got to go to college at the same time, and then studied for a degree in mechanical engineering.

“We take on between three and four new apprentices every year and we’re really keen to get our team out there. We want to get engineering back into the area and try to keep it back in the UK.”


Mitchell Instruments

Junior graphic designer

“I did an apprenticeship in graphic design and went to college; I’ve been here three years now. It’s really good to talk to the kids about all the different opportunities in different companies, because when I was at school I wasn’t aware of the options. Also, there seems to be a negative stigma about apprenticeships, that there are just hairdressing and automotive roles. But the things that I’ve learned at the company have prepared me so well for the next stage in my career.”


The Atrium Gym

Personal trainer and online marketing coordinator

“I went to sixth form at Ely College and am 21 now. I started off part time and I’ve been at Atrium three years now – it’s a fantastic company to work for. They provided all the funding for me to learn.”


Science Ambassadors

Member of the drug safety team

“I study business and enterprise at Sheffield Hallam University but I’ve been working in drug safety and pharmacovigilance for my placement year. It’s very different to what I do at university. It’s opened my eyes to a whole different area and has shown me how many roles there are within the company - research, drug discovery, manufacture, sales, legal, finance.”


JDR Cable Systems LTD

Design technician

“I started out studying engineering at GCSE level and then found a four year apprenticeship in it. I’m now studying for my level four higher national certificate in mechanical engineering. I would have loved to have gone to something like this when I was 15 so it’s really good for young people.”