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From manicuring to forensic science and robotics to bricklaying, London learners got a taste of the Skills Show with a host of their very own have-a-go activities at college.

The College of North West London (CNWL) threw open its doors on Wednesday (March 18) to more than 1,200 schoolchildren, local residents and businesspeople for its third annual skills show event.

BTec science level two student Faiza Mohamed, aged 17, was helping visitors at a forensic science through fingerprint identification have-a-go — one of more than 20 stands on show.

“People have come in and had a go at the activities and they’ve asked a lot of questions,” she said.

“I think they’ve really enjoyed it — and it’s been helpful for me too, because I’ve gained experience and confidence.”

Andy Cole, CNWL principal, said: “We use these opportunities to build upon some very strong relationships we’ve got with employers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase what large local employers like McVities do and for our students to get industry links of even employment — and we build the day around that.”

He added: “It’s also great in terms of helping us reengage with local schools, because they can actually see the financial and practical value for young people of doing vocational and technical skills.”

But as well as have-a-gos, students were able to show off their talents in 20 skills competitions including refrigeration and air conditioning, video and moving image and a ‘Big Rig’ event, run by the Think Up educational trust, where students must compete in teams to build the best low-carbon shower facility.

“These sorts of competitions make a link that gets employers interested and pulls them in,” said Mr Cole.

“We’re a heavily adult college and a lot of our students are trying to reskill or multiskill, so having that link into employers is really important — and importantly competing helps to keep staff up to date, particularly in changing areas such as robotics, where the field changes so fast.”

Councillor Janice Long, who represents the Dudden Hill ward where the college’s Willesden campus is located, joined the six schools who were visiting the college.

“It’s always interesting seeing what people are up to and wide range of courses the college offers,” she said.

“There’s a lot of school children around here, and it’s great for them to be able to see what types of jobs you can actually have and that you don’t have to go to university to do something you’re interested in.”

“Regardless of whether we win things, that engagement is what we want really,” he said.

“If you go into that kind of thing hoping you’re going to get great marketing out of it, forget it.”

Mr Cole said: “Quite rightly we’re moving away from this obsession with qualifications as a proxy for learning — now the focus is one what does it give you? What skillset do you have?

“And competitions and events like this are a great way to demonstrate that.”