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BLA Expo inspires next generation

The Business Liaison Association has just celebrated its 20th Annual Youth and Careers Expo with more than 3500 high school students from across the region in attendance.

The expo gives students and jobseekers around Far North Queensland the chance to explore a variety of career pathways and education providers to inspire their decision-making.

And it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what BLA offers to the community.

The Association’s Executive Officer Kerrie Stanley said the not-for-profit worked with local businesses to help develop the next generation of the region’s workforce.

“We’re trying to prevent the confusion of year 13,” said Kerrie.

“By running awards and competitions covering a large range of subjects, our careers expo and industry breakfasts, as well as arranging on site industry visits for students, the BLA is trying to expose them to as many industries as possible, so that by the time they leave school they have a clear vision of what sort of work they want to pursue.”

She said they provide sponsors with networking events, a visiting experts program and two student awards nights thanks to local businesses who want to be involved with the Business Liaison Association.

“It’s not our job to sign students up to university, TAFE or apprenticeships, or even to get them jobs.

“We’re the middleman and the link in the chain. We link them by providing specific student events, where they can connect with a number of opportunities and businesses, then when they decide which pathway is right for them, they contact the organisation directly.”

With the Youth and Careers Expo having wrapped up for 2021, Kerrie said the event keeps growing every year.

“When I first started four years ago, we had just over two and a half thousand students coming through. This year, before the actual expo we had 3743 confirmed. It’s fantastic to have the support of our local and regional senior schools at this event.

“Over the past four years, we’ve grown from 60 exhibitors to 89 this year.

“We have everything from government departments to apprenticeship and training organisations, universities and colleges, the emergency services, local manufacturing businesses, wellbeing and more. We have a very big scope to meet all children’s needs.

“It’s not just for those students who are very focused and who know what they want to do; it’s also for those students who are uncertain and who are quite anxious about what life outside of school will be like.”

The careers expo is just one of many others like it across the state, but Kerrie said popular feedback suggests it stands out from the rest.

“We are known for being one of the best interactive careers expos outside of Brisbane,” she said.

“Our southern exhibitors tell me that they really enjoy coming to our expo; they love the feel, the homeliness and the warmth when they get here.”

While the careers expo is finished for 2021, Kerrie said there are plenty more events and opportunities for like-minded businesses to get on board before they start preparing for next year.

“Being a local girl and also having my kids grow up in Cairns, I believe in what we do. If what we do changes 10 teenagers’ lives by giving them confidence to pursue a career when they leave school, then that would be fantastic.

“We are a not-for-profit, and we rely on the generous support of local businesses in Cairns and the surrounding regions.

“Most of the companies who sponsor us have a similar vision, or they’re parents themselves and they understand what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to achieve.

“Our sponsors are giving back to the youth in our region and they’re helping us to develop the next generation of our workforce, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Connect // bla.org.au


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