10,000 and counting! The Sunderland careers scheme which has helped so many students

Titan the Robot has been a huge Work Discovery hit.
Titan the Robot has been a huge Work Discovery hit.

It has all added up to a wonderful success story. More than 10,000 students have now been helped by Work Discovery Week across the Wearside area.

And when you consider the first one was only six years ago in 2013, it has become a modern-day phenomenon.

Exhibition stands attract huge interest from students thinking of which career they are interested in.

Exhibition stands attract huge interest from students thinking of which career they are interested in.

Today, we look back at some impressive highlights of a Sunderland venture which has helped youngsters galore choose their career path.

A shining example of how to give students meaningful support.

That’s how John Green describes the Work Discovery Week programme.

The retail liaison manager of the Bridges and co-chair of Work Discovery Sunderland looked back on the scheme which started in 2013 by helping 1,000 people.

It’s been held up as a shining example of how to give students meaningful support and has also helped build strong relationships between schools in the city and businesses from every industry across the region

John Green

It has grown ever since and John added: “We want to be able to build on the success of the last seven years and continue to drive the programme forward.”

The aim of that very first week was to show the young people in the city the wealth of opportunities available across all sectors so they could make informed decisions about their future careers.

It was launched by the newly set up Sunderland Economic Leadership Board’s Business Schools Task Group which recognised that the relationship between businesses across the region and schools in Sunderland needed to developed.

Twenty senior schools had students at that first event which involved a careers fair, workshops, hands-on activities and even a fashion show where the students decided which clothes were work appropriate.

Students pack into the Stadium of Light for the launch of Work Discovery Week.

Students pack into the Stadium of Light for the launch of Work Discovery Week.

That formula has continued to the current day, with the opening event always taking place at the Stadium of Light.

Huge success

John added: “The Work Discovery Sunderland programme has been a huge success in giving the young people in the city the first hand experience and knowledge they need to make informed career decisions.

“It’s been held up as a shining example of how to give students meaningful support and has also helped build strong relationships between schools in the city and businesses from every industry across the region.”

The launch of the 2018 Work Discovery Week at the Stadium of Light.

The launch of the 2018 Work Discovery Week at the Stadium of Light.

The success of Work Discovery Week led to its extension into the wider Work Discovery Sunderland.

WDS offers specific sector days throughout the year, covering everything from IT to health sciences, hospitality to construction.

Since WDW began more than 10,000 young people have been involved in WDW and WDS in some way, with more than 200 businesses of all sizes taking part.

The breadth of activities has also grown over the years, with a whole host of additional events now taking place around National Apprentice Week which have been added into the WDS programme.

While the opening day of WDW is at the Stadium of Light, the closing date ends with a Dragons’ Den-style business challenge where young people put forward a business idea.

In the past, winning ideas have included boat tours of Sunderland pointing out all the attractions, a 360 degree in-car camera, an online system for young people to engage with future employers to a way to turn old LP records into clocks.

Another scene from the 2018 Work Discovery Week at the Stadium of Light.

Another scene from the 2018 Work Discovery Week at the Stadium of Light.

A panel of 10 leading business experts judge the event and choose a winning idea.

In more recent years, primary schools have also been invited along to the opening day careers event.

Other highlights have included an appearance by Titan the Robot, who interacted with young people and a dance troupe performing at the opening day to highlight various careers.

Business backing

But one common denominator from day one has been the backing of businesses and the whole event since the start has been funded entirely on sponsorship provided by leading companies.

John added: “Work Discovery Week and the wider Work Discovery Sunderland programme wouldn’t have existed without the on-going support of business and we are extremely grateful for that.”

Those involved from day one – and still involved today – include the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland College, Nissan, Liebherr, Calsonic Kansei.

Leading business people from across Sunderland have become the chair of the organisation – including Gary Hutchinson, Paul McEldon and now John Green, retail liaison manager at the Bridges.

l There is still time for people to get involved in this year’s Work Discovery Week which runs from June 24 to June 28. 

Careers stands and sponsorshop opportunities are available.

Businesses wanting to get involved should contact info@sortedpr.com.