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Employment has been a major concern for people across the country over the last year due to the impact of the pandemic. Whether that is concern for the lifespan of a current job; changing government guidelines affecting business trading; and of course your prospects for new opportunities if you were out of work already or about to enter the workforce.

Through Cosmic’s existing work on the Positive People project, we have seen the impact that the pandemic has had on the job market and the changes to how people get support and find opportunities for work. Job seeking is now almost entirely online and due to COVID-19 even the limited in person activities have had to be put on hold. This can make a daunting time even more difficult for those who already struggle accessing the online world. One way to combat that difficulty is to replicate our offline activities in the online space as much as we can, making them feel familiar and comfortable whilst encouraging people to explore new tools and technologies.

Alongside our ongoing Virtual Job Club, we recently embarked on another digital alternative, a Virtual Careers Fair. Earlier in the year we began work on the event in collaboration with Somerset West and Taunton Council, that would be focused on the Care sector.

Our aim was to make the event as person centric as possible and ensure that attendees could speak “face-to-face” with potential employers and organisations. Using Zoom Breakout rooms, we were able to achieve this and provide an environment as similar to a real-life careers fair as possible. Attendees were provided detailed instructions about Zoom in advance; had the support of a friendly team of our Cosmic colleagues available for tech questions throughout and were given access to lots of resources to prepare themselves via the event YouTube channel.

The event took place on the 24th November and was attended by 19 exhibiting organisations including public sector employers, local care providers, colleges and training providers as well as “into employment” support such as the local Community Employment Hubs, Job Centre Plus and Positive People. Many of those who attended the event took the time to speak to multiple exhibitors to consider all the different options available to them.

The Cosmic team of Positive People were available in the waiting room and they could really see the impact that the event was having for people through the conversations they had on the day. We had several people attend from outside the region who were looking to relocate; others were students, exploring their options post education; and of course, a selection of local people looking for their next opportunity in work. Even in the two-hour time slot, attendees were becoming more and more comfortable with the technology and were not fazed about being directed from room to room by their virtual host.

Covid-19 has created a multitude of challenges for us all, but some of those challenges can be alleviated with a bit of creative thinking. We stepped out of our comfort zone and this time, it paid off, perhaps this event is the first of many, let’s wait and see.

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