Around 250 young people attended the ‘Generation Watford’ virtual careers fair (9 March) to learn more about the exciting opportunities and job prospects available with the town’s world-class employers. The event was organised by Watford Borough Council and Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce, supported by Hertfordshire LEP, and sponsored by Camelot. 

Pupils aged 15-18 from schools and colleges across the town, together with their parents, carers and teachers, registered to hear from Watford’s leading organisations about how they can apply for jobs and apprenticeships across construction, banking, creative industries, law and healthcare. This included companies such as Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, Watford General Hospital and law firm VWV Solicitors.

The event was sponsored by Camelot and supported by Hertfordshire LEP with funding from its Careers Hub to enable a large number of young people from a variety of schools to engage with local employers. ​It was developed as an alternative to the traditional in-person options evenings, with sector champions representing their companies providing advice and support through recorded content and live chat within breakout rooms. Early career leads and apprentices also talked through their experiences and answered questions from the audience.

The event ties in with the year-long countywide 'Hertfordshire Supports Apprenticeships' campaign which aims to raise awareness of local apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities - both seen as vital to Hertfordshire’s recovery from COVID-19. The programme also included an introduction from Mayor Peter Taylor, a discussion around career choices by Camelot, and talks from iSales Academy, West Herts College, and the Kickstart Scheme.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “Supporting young people as they make key choices about their future is more important than ever in the light of the current pandemic. I am really grateful to all the businesses who supported this event. Generation Watford, and other events like this, send a very clear message to our young people that they are part of their town’s exciting future, as we build back better from the pandemic. It was great to see young people connecting with key industry leaders and encouraging future talent to thrive.”

Camelot's People Director, Rachel King, said: "Camelot is proud to call Watford our home and supporting the goals, aspirations and futures of students from across the borough is extremely important to us. It was great to be part of a collaborative effort to bring the event to students virtually, meaning the next generation could still get the vital support they needed to decide their next steps or help them secure new opportunities."

Chris Luff, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our Chamber team of apprentices and Kickstarters, Kia Marie Whittaker, Danny Thompson and Lee Keogh helped put together this event. They engaged with local businesses and the young people of Watford using digital media and the new Chamber Remo platform to humanise the video online experience.

“The feedback on the night proved there is so much more we can do to connect people and help raise awareness of the amazing skills and potential we have right on our doorstep. We have many more events in the pipeline to continue the work of the Next Generation Network. Their ambition is to get every business large or small to join up and join in – so please get in contact with the team today!”

Caroline Cartwright, Hertfordshire LEP Skills and Apprenticeship Manager, said: “Generation Watford was a great opportunity for our young people and their parents/carers to find out about the exciting careers on their doorstep with some of the region’s most innovative employers. The event underscored an important message, reinforced by our Hertfordshire Supports Apprenticeships campaign, which is that apprenticeships and traineeships are valued career options and can raise the skills and productivity levels of young people, those already in work, and adults looking to re-train.”

To learn more about career and training opportunities available within the county, please visit the Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal at hopinto.co.uk.