12,500 Attend Christchurch Coca-Cola Careers Expo
Wednesday 19th February, 2004
12,500 Attend Christchurch Coca-Cola Careers Expo
Students, parents and teachers from all over the South Island, made up the 12,500 who explored 70 exhibits at the 14th annual Coca-Cola Careers Expo on its first-ever visit to Christchurch on May 16 through 18.
"We were expecting 7000 Cantabrians to take in the Christchurch Expo, and are thrilled that we blew that projection away, with 12,500 in attendance," explained Ian Furlong, General Manager of Corporate Affairs for Coca-Cola.
"The purpose of Careers Expo is to support youth in making a successful transition from school to personally rewarding, productive work," said Furlong.
Evidence suggests that many students struggle with that transition. For example, 51% of the tertiary student population is comprised of mature students (aged over 24). (Department of Labour, A Future of Work Programme report, Work Trends: How work is changing in New Zealand. August 2003.)
While many of these students indicate they are pursuing post-graduate degrees or additional qualifications for their career, a full 38% report that they are gaining tertiary qualifications that they previously missed out on.
These are students who are pursuing training for careers that match up with their passions and interests years after leaving secondary.
Industry training shows similar trends to tertiary education. Of 86,000 industry trainees in June 2003, more than 48,000 (56%) were aged 30 years and above. Both industry and tertiary education statistics suggest that there is a gap for many New Zealanders between leaving secondary and finding their way to their chosen career field.
Coca-Cola Careers Expo hopes to offer career planning support to students while they are still in secondary, in order to help them make the transition faster and easier.
"Students today are challenged by choice - the career possibilities are unlimited," explains Robyn Walshe of Judi Grace Consultancy Ltd. Robyn has developed the Careers Expo Handbook, a planning resource provided to students in advance of Expo. "But knowing where to start and how to explore the options can be baffling."
COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO CAREER GUIDANCE Careers Expo is an avenue for students to explore their options. But it is not a single-bullet solution. Rather, Careers Expo works collaboratively with other partners engaged in the issue of school to work transition, as explained by Jan Francis, Executive Officer for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.
"The Expo is an example of local Government working together with industry and community agencies to help support youth in making critical decisions about their future," says Francis.
Careers Expo aims to support youth in reaching their potential, which in turn creates the necessary conditions for New Zealand employers and the New Zealand economy continue to reach their potential.
"A key government goal is for young people to participate successfully in New Zealand's economy after they leave school. In order to do this, it is essential that students are able to make appropriate decisions for their education, training and career paths," explains secondary school Careers Advisor and Careers Expo Advisory Board member, Maggie Hames. CANTERBURY CAREER OPPORTUNITIES Annie Birmingham, from the Canterbury Development Corporation, believes initiatives like the Coca-Cola Careers Expo provide students with good, localized industry information, as well as broad training, education and career planning support.
"The Coca-Cola Careers Expo can profile and highlight the areas and industries in which our local employers have careers and work available in our region which will ensure young people have good information about the local labour market," says Birmingham.
"It is important for students to have good up-to-date information to make their training and employment decisions. CDC particularly supports the increased focus on regional industry opportunities and industry representation at the Careers Expo. This will provide Canterbury students with increased options and important information with which to plan for their future."
BENEFITS OF EXPO TO EMPLOYERS: COMPETITION FOR TALENT In addition to benefiting students embarking on their career paths, Careers Expo offers practical benefits to employers.
A coming reality for employers is intense competition for talent due to demographic shifts, particularly aging. Projections suggest that over the next 25 years, across the OECD countries, 70 million people will retire, but only 5 million new workers will take their place. (The department of Labour, A Future of Work Programme report, Work Trends: How work is changing in New Zealand. August 2003.)
While this trend will not impact New Zealand as dramatically due to a lesser decline in birth rates, New Zealand's work force is still getting older.
In addition to demographic shifts, skill shortages in specific industries are also an issue for employers. Skill shortages are predicted to continue in many NZ industries, despite reports that the labour market will not be as buoyant as it has been and economic growth may be slowing.
40% of employers report difficulty finding skilled labour as of September 2003, 21% report difficulty finding unskilled labour, and 16% report that labour is the factor most limiting expansion of their business. (Department of Labour, workInsight, issue 3, Nov 2003.) (Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion, which is carried out by the NZ Institute of Economic Research, Sept 2003)
These skill shortages are most prevalent in the South Island, where 51% of firms reported more difficulty finding skilled labour compared to the 12 months previous.
These factors highlight the need for employers to compete for talent now, and to take steps to inform students about opportunities in their industry or profession.
The first-year success of Careers Expo in Christchurch is thanks to the support of key partners, including Career Services, Canterbury Development Corporation and APN Educational Media. Coca-Cola Careers Expo will continue its 2004 series in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin in August and September.
Further information on the event is available on : www.careersexpo.co.nz