November may seem a long way off, but plans for The Skills Show are already well underway, says Ross Maloney 

More than 70,000 people visited The Skills Show last year — and most of them were impressed with its format.

Of the young people questioned as they left the show at Birmingham’s NEC, 72 per cent said the event had changed their impression of vocational education for the better; the same number said the show made them more interested in pursuing vocational education.

Most importantly, as a direct result of their visit, there was a 17 per cent increase in the likelihood of them pursuing vocational education.

This year, we plan to make the visitor experience even more meaningful by focusing on careers education, linking it to the curriculum and creating an offer specifically for parents and teachers who have such an influential role in a young person’s career choices.

We are developing ways to help young people to explore the world of vocational education, training and careers before, during and after the show.

We want visitors to have a more bespoke and tailored experience that meets their individual needs and wants.

Giving visitors the chance to get hands-on experience made the biggest impact last year, with the Have-a-Go activities scoring highest for visitor interaction and enjoyment.

This year we are encouraging colleges and training organisations to apply to deliver a Have-a-Go activity as part of their involvement, so providing the link between their performances or exhibition stands and the world of work.

Young people can learn so much from watching their peers in action. It can be inspirational in terms of career choices”

Seeing competitors in action in skills competitions was another popular area, and we are delighted to again be hosting the finals of the WorldSkills UK skills competitions.

Young people can learn so much from watching their peers in action, and it can be inspirational in terms of career choices.

A key component in the success of the 2012 event was the Show Team, a group of enthusiastic volunteers from colleges and businesses across the country. We’ve just started recruiting for this year and are offering ten student volunteers, already studying health and safety as part of an existing course, the chance to work alongside our event health and safety team to learn while they work.

Good quality health and safety experience is hard to find, which makes this opportunity a real boost for those selected, not least because they will be involved in the many different elements that make up the show.

This programme will provide the students involved with new, valuable practical skills that they can transfer into the workplace.

Recruitment is also underway for our volunteer team leaders, and the main volunteer recruitment drive will start shortly for more than 750 people needed to ensure that the event runs seamlessly.

The volunteers are, in many cases, the ‘face’ of the show and provide the vital link between the visitors and the show’s organisers.

Anyone interested should keep an eye on our website,, or follow us on Twitter, @skillsshow, to keep up to date with the latest news.

We look forward to welcoming everyone to the NEC Birmingham from November 14 to 16 for another exciting, incredible show.

Ross Maloney, chief executive of the Skills Show

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