Careers Fairs – why bother? by Claire Hedley, Practice Education Lead, @ClaireAHPed.

Claire Hedley, Practice Education Lead, NES.

Throughout March, I have been attending a number of careers fairs at High Schools, these events were well attended by various years groups of students.

However, how many times when the cry for OT’s to attend careers fairs go out, do the eyes around the room go down and no one is free to attend – you know what we’re talking about! Clinical work always take priority, can we keep saying this? Without investment in careers fairs, the recruitment issues we are already facing can only get worse. Everyone, from Health care support workers to our Directors and Chief executives, need to invest in this activity to ensure our future workforce.

 Why is it important for us to attend these? Attendance at careers fairs enables us with real opportunities to tell future OT’s what we do, it allows us to “sell” our profession either in a one-on-one or group environment. It enables us to showcase the range that our career offers and illustrate that no 2 days are the same.   We are given a forum to tell people why we chose to do what we do and share our enthusiasm for our profession with others.

We all know that there are lots of benefits for students to attend careers fairs, but what are the benefits for us as individuals and how can we link these to CPD.  It’s the year that HCPC are auditing OT, so how can this activity aide your CPD?

Our pillars of practice illustrate that we should be demonstrating knowledge and skills for clinical practice, facilitation of learning, leadership and evidence, research.  Attendance at Careers Fairs allows us to populate at least 3 of these pillars – facilitation of learning, leadership and evidence, research and development.  You are facilitating skills and knowledge to enable effective learning and also demonstrating skills and behaviours and can build your leadership skills. You evaluate the impact that you made at the event – what could you have done differently, how could you have explained that better, what worked really well, what would you do again!

NMAHPdevelopment framework, NHS Education Scotland

RCOT’ strategic priorities state that we will rise up to be bold, progressive advocates and champions – raising our profile and voice so that more people understand the power of what occupational therapists do – what better forum to do this than starting with our future colleagues and attending career fairs, be that advocate for the profession. 

We have been asked to open up to new opportunities and people – joining forces, forming alliances, and getting more people to see occupational therapy as the solution to their needs. Joining with education and forming alliances allows us to educate other professions about what Occupational Therapy can do in their setting.

As a profession we will lift up every occupational therapist and support them to be the best they can be throughout their entire career – by offering them the best community, resources and tools that help them to succeed.  Resources are available from RCOT to support you in the delivering of career events and not only enhance the student’s journey and learning, but your own.

We will build up our organisation and culture to be dynamic, high performing and values-led – using insights and data to inform and drive us to achieve our purpose.  Evaluate how much engagement you had at the event, are we an attractive career prospect to our young people – think about how you can change this, what impact can you make. What part can you play in attracting young people to our profession.

Next time that email request comes out, don’t send it straight to the deleted items, have a think about what attendance at a careers fair could do for you, how can it benefit your practice and your profession.

Claire.hedley@nhs.scot

Claire@ahped

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