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01 July 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Positive feedback from this year’s online Western Victorian Careers Expo could have a long-term effect on the annual event.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Careers Association responded to the coronavirus pandemic by creating a virtual expo last week, providing students with a one-stop-shop for vocational information while satisfying physical-
Western Victorian Careers Expo, the largest of its kind in country Victoria, provides a wealth of information for students, school leavers and job seekers along with people seeking a career change, returning to work or considering further study or training.
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Expo co-ordinator Annie Mintern said despite some early teething problems, the restructured day was a success.
“We had some issues with the website, which provided a stressful start to the day,” she said.
“We had thousands of people trying to log on in the morning. A few people pointed out that it was a good problem to have because it meant we had so many people trying to engage with the program.”
About 2000 people usually attend the expo in person and Ms Mintern said although it was harder to gauge numbers in an online environment, the virtual event was a success.
“It was difficult to tell the number of attendees in some sessions because a lot of the schools had many students watching the one screen,” she said.
“The most well-attended seminar had 79 participants, and I know St Brigid’s College had about 80 kids watching the lunch-time screening of our special guest, comedian Georgie Carroll.
“We had more than 1000 people logging on and our feedback was really good, particularly from exhibitors.
“I got some very nice compliments, which is pleasing.
“We even had some schools we didn’t expect ask us if they could be involved, including a school from Melbourne and one from Mildura. That was pretty exciting.”
Ms Mintern said school leaders were enthusiastic about the online format.
“Some of the school leaders said the students got heaps more out of the expo this way, because they sat down and watched the seminars,” she said.
“Given all the positive feedback for the virtual expo, we will look at having an online component next year, as well as our hands-on try-a-trade options. The try-a-trade is unique to our expo, so we definitely don’t want to lose that, but we could have an online format as well.”
Horsham St Brigid’s College careers co-ordinator Lesley Lannen said she believed the online environment was the way forward.
“It definitely gave the students a great opportunity to engage,” she said.
“As a rural school, it provided a lot of knowledge and gave the students a chance to find out more about pathways that are available to them.
“There were 82 seminars the kids could be involved in, which I think was fantastic.
“We had students attend six seminars for the day and they were taking notes and asking questions during the interactive phase.
“I think that’s fantastic and I think that’s the way forward.”
Mrs Lannen said the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 had levelled the playing field for rural, regional and metropolitan students.
“Our students have had access to a lot more stuff virtually,” she said.
“For example, city kids can afford to go to a seminar or information session that goes for one or two hours, but we can’t take our students to the city for that. Presenting information in a virtual environment means our students are no longer disadvantaged.
“We still want to keep the try-a-trade option, because that hands-on component is also very important, but I would like to see the virtual information sharing incorporated alongside it.”
Ms Mintern said links to several of the video presentations would be made available on the event’s website, wimmeracareerexpo.com.
The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!