For more than 25 years the NZ Careers Expo has been helping young people to make important career and study decisions. And it’s getting bigger and better every year. JUDE BARBACK reflects.
I well remember my first NZ Careers Expo in 1998. I was 16 and, thanks to a rather basic, computer-generated quiz, had already decided that I was going to be a diplomat. So with a career already chosen, my main motivation for attending the expo was just to get free stuff.
But once I was at the expo an unexpected feeling of possibility and excitement washed over me as I wandered from one exhibitor to the next, each presenting a different opportunity, a potential pathway. Career options and tertiary courses I’d never before considered were suddenly within my grasp and my diplomatic dreams began to fade.
Nearly 20 years later the NZ Careers Expo is continuing to provide that same buzz for students up and down the country, with expos being held in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Last year marked the NZ Career Expo’s 25th anniversary, with a record 40,000 visitors attending expos across New Zealand. The NZ Careers Expo provides the widest range of exhibitors of any career-focused expo in the country, comprising New Zealand employers, industry, tertiary providers, training institutes, government departments and corporates.
Christchurch teen Baxter Williams was among the thousands attending last year’s expo and says it was really helpful.
“I’m thinking of studying at Canterbury University after high school, so it was great to talk to people from the university,” he says. “Most of my friends weren’t sure what they wanted to do after school, so having conversations with people with knowledge about post-high school options was incredibly helpful for them.”
Samuel Dale, who is now studying at the University of Auckland, agrees, saying the NZ Careers Expo he attended was very helpful and made up for insufficient careers advice at school.
“Our high school definitely didn’t go over options with students very well.” says Samuel. “You definitely need to be on top of it yourself, in my experience.”
And for schools that are savvy in the careers education department, the expos provide some great resources for careers advisors and their students.
Jane Thomas, a careers advisor at Morrinsville College, says the NZ Careers Expo has given their students information on a wide range of tertiary and industry providers for a number of years.
“Students of all ages benefit from attending the expo, and I encourage my students to attend with their parents/caregivers to make the most of the day,” says Jane.
She believes the conversations that take place between students, their parents and the exhibitors are often the starting points for making sensible career planning decisions.
“It’s really important for us to be here,” says Trevor Todd, of the Pacific International Hotel Management School. “Education, for us, is a huge focus. The NZ Careers Expo is a great event for us because we get to talk to students who will be the future of hospitality, tourism and business and by sharing our story we are creating brand awareness.”
Jane Thomas, who is also national president of the Careers and Transition Educators Association (CATE), says the expo organisers regularly meet with, and listen to feedback from, the CATE national committee, to develop the NZ Careers Expo into an event that is “well worth attending”.
Jane is particularly enthusiastic about the new World of Work Careers Hub, an exhibit in the centre of the expo hall aimed at providing young people with careers information and helping them to become “work ready”.
“The new World of Work feature at the expos incorporates Vocational Pathways and provides more meaning for students as to how VPs can influence their career choices. This has given some more interactive context for students so they can see the wide range of careers available to them.”
The interactive features are certainly impressive. Students can chat with career consultants, enjoy ‘Just the Job’ workplace profiles or watch footage in interactive digital kiosks of Kiwi employers talking about their workplaces. Exhibitors also provide hands-on demonstrations of their industries on a stage.
In terms of what’s new for 2017, the NZ Careers Expo has just entered into an exclusive media partnership with NZME, publishers of JETmag. As New Zealand’s go-to magazine and website for advice on jobs, education and training, JETmag is well placed to reach school leavers with all the need-to-know news and views relating to the NZ Careers Expo.
With dates and locations confirmed for this year, the NZ Careers Expo is once again ready to help more young Kiwis explore career possibilities and study options they might never have considered.
2017 dates and locations for the NZ Careers Expo: Christchurch Horncastle Arena, 11–13 May, Auckland ASB Showgrounds 25–27 May, Hamilton Claudelands Events Centre, 11–12 June; Wellington TSB Arena, 16–17 June.
To enquire about being part of the 2017 NZ Careers Expo, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.careersexpo.org.nz. To register your school to attend the nearest 2017 NZ Careers Expo, go to www.careersexpo.org.nz.