Northampton schoolchildren spent the day at university campus to get thinking about careers

Students from a town secondary school invented new products and met business leaders as part of an event at the University of Northampton to get them thinking about careers.

Year ten pupils from Kingsthorpe Academy worked in teams to come up with something new out of an everyday object and played 'careers Top Trumps' to compare jobs at the Waterside campus.

The career card challenge

The career card challenge

The event was part of the school's careers week this week, and aided by the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), which works with numerous Northamptonshire secondaries.

NCOP schools co-ordinator Christine Webster: "The students really enjoy it, yesterday they left here buzzing, they enjoy talking to real people from industry rather than just reading about qualifications and careers and what you need.

"Hearing people's life paths and stories and realising it isn't just the case that at 16 you decide you want to do something and when you're 50 you're still doing that job, your career path can change and that's okay, so it's really good to get an insight into that."

The students were split into three groups to work on the three workshops in rotation: the career card challenge, selling snow to the eskimos, and 'speed dating' with business leaders.

The Top Trump-style cards for the career cards challenge

The Top Trump-style cards for the career cards challenge

In the eskimos challenge, the schoolchildren were tasked with taking an ordinary object and turning it into something new, with an unlimited budget, to sell to the rest of the class.

They turned highlighters into a Swiss army knife, a blue hand toy into a phone comforter and an envelope holder into a cookie cooler - all to test their creativity and teamworking skills.

Kingsthorpe science teacher Brenda Brown said: "The whole point of this is to get the children to look at what they can do.

"For a lot of them they don't know what they want to do, everything's a bit of a laugh, but this is to get them focused on what they can do and take their exams next year very seriously and that can be the next stepping stone to what they do."

Pupils think about what to turn their straw into

Pupils think about what to turn their straw into

The career card challenge gave the pupils an idea of what different jobs entail, from farmers to engineers, while the 'speed dating' workshop put them face-to-face with a range of different people from industry.

Tobias Knichel was one of the business leaders who took part in the 'speed dating' session, where he went round each table to talk about his career for five minutes.

He is the managing director at Punch Flybrid, a technology company which aims to make vehicle more efficient and is based at Silverstone Park.

"I always encourage them to follow their passion and to do something they are interested in so work doesn't feel like work, it's more like a hobby," he said.

The pupils are welcomed to the university before speaking to the business leaders

The pupils are welcomed to the university before speaking to the business leaders

"I work a lot of hours but it doesn't feel like work as I enjoy what I do so if you follow your passion, it makes your work-life easier."

Kingsthorpe won several awards at the Northamptonshire Education Awards recently, including the career inspiration award, which was partly because of the work it does like the partnership with the university.

Christine hopes the event will inspire the pupils to work hard on their upcoming GCSEs and beyond so they can pursue the careers they want to, which they may have thought of while at the university.

"It's achievable for them as if they give five GCSEs then they can do a BTEC qualification or A-levels to come to university and study," she said.

"The fact that they've seen this might give them the inspiration they need to do better at school and that's what we hope will come of it."

Samiul Ahmod a pupil from Kingsthorpe College, added: “I really enjoyed the day and it really made me think about the different opportunities available to me as I enter my final GCSE year.”

Tobias Knichel from Punch Flybrid talks to the pupils

Tobias Knichel from Punch Flybrid talks to the pupils

One of the business leaders chats to the pupils

One of the business leaders chats to the pupils