As part of the its defining goal of ‘empowering the Tamil youth’, the TYO (Tamil Youth Organisation) organised a higher education and careers convention in West London on Saturday afternoon.
The 4-hour event which hosted recruitment and careers stalls from employers and leading universities, as well as running workshops in interview skills, revision technique and CV writing, attracted over 200 eager school students and their parents from across London and the South-East.
From those currently sitting their GCSEs, seeking advice over choosing the right A-levels, to those in sixth form, deciding which universities and courses to apply to, the event attracted a wide range of students from various communities, all keen to discover the options open to them and further their career aspirations.
Experienced professionals from an array of careers including banking, medicine, law, engineering, dentistry, journalism, business, accounting and politics were available at stalls, giving students plenty of opportunity to discuss general careers queries and receive tailored advice, taking their own personal grades, skills, experience and ambitions into account.
Ambassadors from several UK institutions, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the University College London, set up stalls and, armed with prospectuses and brochures, set about attracting potential applicants for this Autumn's application season.
A level students, who are currently in the process of narrowing down their list of universities to apply to and left the event, with a stack of prospectuses.
Two of the most popular stalls were hosted by the British Army and the Metropolitan Police Service, which drew several youths keen to discuss career options in the armed forces or the police, over above active service, including the recruitment of engineers into the police force and healthcare professionals into the British armed forces.
Sergeant Andy McLelland, from the City of London regiment, The Royal Fusiliers, who ran the British Army’s stall said he was surprised by the volume of interest expressed.
"I've spoken to a number of people who appear to have given serious consideration to joining the army. It's been good to dispel some of the myths that some have too. So, who knows, a few months down the line, we'll hopefully see them in the forces," he said.
He also added that he was impressed by the TYO event as a whole. "I've been to some careers fairs before, where only six people arrived, but today has been extremely good. I've been busy all afternoon."
"I'm sure the next one will be better still, and am looking forward to it," Sergeant McLelland added.
The Metropolitan police representative, Constable Tony Cox, also impressed by the attention drawn by his stall, which was complete with a video display and free Met Police stationery.
Cox, who, in addition to being a front line officer, is closely involved in promoting Police relations with London communities, praised the TYO for holding such an event for London youth.
The workshops in interview skills, revision technique and CV writing were particularly well received, with students, often urged by their anxious parents, queuing up to get a place in the workshops.
Those that did have the opportunity to attend, said they appreciated the clear, simple advice they had received and now felt less daunted by the university application process.
The Mayor of Brent, Harbhajan Singh, visited the event, chatting to students, university ambassadors and recruiters.
The overwhelmingly positive response TYO's higher education and careers convention received from both those recruiters and youth has prompted planning to start for the another fair to during the university application season later this year, TYO representatives said.