Illawarra careers expo: future prospects trialled

Test run: Wollongong High School student Sean Brannon tries a helicopter flight simulator on the first day of the Illawarra Coal Regional Careers Expo at the Unanderra hockey stadium. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Test run: Wollongong High School student Sean Brannon tries a helicopter flight simulator on the first day of the Illawarra Coal Regional Careers Expo at the Unanderra hockey stadium. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

They are our future pilots, beauticians, or business leaders perhaps - and many of them don't even know it yet.

Thousands of senior school students turned out for the first day of the Illawarra Coal Regional Careers Expo on Tuesday, expecting to find some direction as they take their next steps into adulthood.

For many of the teens, who have witnessed unemployment rates rise as job cuts and industry collapses take their toll, making the right career moves is a matter of "keeping their options open".

"I've always been a bit interested in the [Defence Force] so I thought I'd have a look at what they've got," Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts student Lachlan Goddard said.

Having tried his hand at flying a helicopter over Sydney in one of HMAS Albatross's flight simulators, the year 12 student was off to find information on university courses in science and the arts.

"I'm just trying to keep my options open and have a look around at what's available."

It was a sentiment echoed by Oak Flats High School students Jordyn Doyle and Natalie Cheung as they browsed the 92 exhibits, despite having their hearts set on university careers.

The expo, which is organised each year by the Illawarra Career Advisors Network (ICAN), is expected to attract more than 4500 students through its doors.

ICAN chairperson Cheryl Burling said the event aimed to help students find the right career path and give them the skills and confidence to thrive in a tough jobs market.

"Because youth unemployment is so high in the Illawarra and because the jobs market is so competitive, they need to be very highly skilled," she said. "We want them to take ownership of their career because [the jobs market] is changing so much, so we need to give them the skills as they grow to take charge of their own career development and their career planning."

The event will continue at the Unanderra hockey stadium until Wednesday afternoon.

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