Almost 300 potential apprentices from the Brighton and Hove area went to a special careers fair at the Amex Community Stadium in Falmer.
The Apprenticeship Careers Fair attracted Year 10 and 11 pupils from a dozen schools and colleges as well as voluntary groups such as the Crew Club in Whitehawk. Several parents, guardians and teachers accompanied them.
Former Patcham High School pupil Sonny Smith, 20, from Whitehawk, was among the current apprentices giving advice to youngsters at the Mears stand.
The housing contractor, based at the new £1.8 million housing centre in Moulsecoomb, was one of a couple of dozen employers at the apprentices fair.
Others included Denne Construction, JTL Engineering, Babcock, Holiday Inn, Freedom Leisure, American Express, Zenos IT, Brighton and Hove Albion, Sainsbury’s and the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
Employers were grouped by sector, with more than a dozen sectors represented. They included construction and related trades, environmental industries, engineering, IT, creative and digital media, hospitality, retail, sport and leisure and hair and beauty.
Mike Eaton, apprenticeships manager for Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “This is the first apprentices event we’ve held for this age group.
“We wanted to give young people the opportunity to talk to apprentice employers and training providers.
“And the key thing was we wanted to get employers here.
“Look at Mears. Most people would think they’re just builders but they offer a lot of careers.”
Mr Eaton said: “We’re looking at those ‘not in employment, education or training’ – the NEETs – and we’ve really concentrated on young people leaving care.
“But apprenticeships aren’t just a routeway for young people who aren’t academic. They can be a viable option to getting to university.”
When not at work, Mr Eaton has been spending time as a business mentor to young people at the Crew Club – “trying to give them real options and open their eyes”.
Pupils attended the event on Wednesday (23 November) from – among others – Hove Park School, Blatchington Mill, Cardinal Newman, BHASVIC, Longhill, Varndean School, Varndean College, Dorothy Stringer, Patcham High and Lewes Priory.