Connecting students with businesses at the Fantastic Futures Conference

Connecting students with businesses at the Fantastic Futures Conference

Written by Madeleine Melin

Posted on Friday 15 July 2022

Over 170 students from Nelson Tasman high schools and 27 local businesses, industry representatives and training organisations gathered at the Founders Heritage Park for the Fantastic Futures Conference on 6 July.

The Fantastic Futures Conference is part of the Education to Employment programme, delivered by Nelson Development Agency (NRDA) with support from the Ministry of Education. As well as connecting schools to business and industry, this programme is designed to inspire and inform students about the vocational pathways available in the Nelson Tasman region.

“By focusing on a range of strategically important sectors, the goal is to build students' perspectives by showcasing different roles and pathways and encourage them to proceed to work, study or training after graduating high school” says Fiona Wilson, CE at Nelson Regional Development Agency.

During term two, NRDA organised weekly career exploration days alongside local businesses showcasing industries such as Aquaculture, Hospitality, Horticulture, Construction and Engineering, Conservation, IT and Computing, Civil Construction and Forestry to teach students about different roles available, programmes and training. On each trip students were able to ask questions, discover training opportunities and understand our regions “earn-while-you-learn” pathways.

The finale event, Fantastic Futures, a one-day conference which allows students to explore opportunities and possible future careers through interactive, fun and informative activities. Youth were treated like adults attending a conference and to help drive engagement, welcome packs, guest speakers, good food, live music and competitions with prizes were a part of the day.

This day also gives great opportunity for businesses and employers to network with teachers and careers advisors for future engagement. Businesses including Port Nelson, OneFortyOne, Mainfreight, Talley’s and many more also appreciate the engagement and exposure.

“NRDA has organised another successful career expo for employers around the region to connect with students. The event was fantastic for Port Nelson to showcase the various opportunities at the port, and the team enjoyed inspiring, what we hope will be, the next generation of the Port Nelson team members” says Jessica Ammundsen, Communications and Engagement Manager at Port Nelson.

“Our students all gained something from the day. I also learned lots and made some good connections with industry” says Amy Dalton, Careers Advisor at Motueka High School.

Feedback received from students after the event was positive. 91% answered that they felt more ready to work in a trade or vocational pathway and 78% felt more prepared for their future career after this event.

“This data indicates that the programme has been successful in informing students about career opportunities in local industries and making them more confident about exploring careers in unknown fields. It was wonderful to see students engaging and having fun, knowing that they will learn from this and possibly pursue careers with one of these businesses in the future” says Ange Campbell, Vocational Coordinator at Nelson Regional Development Agency.

“The Education to Employment programme is proving to be a really successful pilot for our region. We urgently need to tackle our existing and growing workforce and skills challenges and shortages – this programme is one practical way to give students direct insights and interactions with businesses and to inspire them about future work. It is a programme we hope to continue and to expand into the future, and we urge Government to continue their support with a long-term view” says Fiona Wilson.