Since 2005 the annual Shoalhaven Careers Expo has assisted thousands of Year 10 students in exploring career options and making informed choices about subject choices for their all-important senior high school years.
More than 80 local businesses, organisations and community representatives are involved, and as one of the biggest employers in the region, HMAS Albatross always has a big presence.
This year 816 Squadron flew in a S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter. Students were encouraged to explore the aircraft and ask the aircrew and maintainers questions about a career in the Fleet Air Arm.
Students were also able to test their own 'piloting' skills in one of the Naval Aviation Prospects Scheme helicopter emulators.
The Navy Community Engagement Team were also kept busy discussing the diverse range of career opportunities in the Navy.
Head of Shoalhaven Campus, Associate Professor Robbie Collins said Expo organisers were grateful to Navy for its continued support.
“Both the emulators and the helicopter onsite add dynamic elements to an Expo where we try to make sure exhibitors understand the need to engage students actively rather than simply handout giveaways.
“The students particularly enjoy it when there is something to try, to do or to touch,” Professor Collins said.
“We have lots of positive feedback about the different stalls, about who makes an effort to speak to the young people, to start conversations and offer their personal perspectives, experiences and advice.
“Navy is a long time supporter of the Expo and one of those who have cracked the code that young people today are actually good fun to talk with if you think about ways to engage them.”
Petty Officer Linda Eddington of the Community Engagement Team said this face to face contact was important.
“I think it prompts the students to dig deeper, to gain a better knowledge and understanding of what’s out there.
“Many of those I spoke to were surprised to learn that Defence offers over 300 career choices.”
Professor Collins said there was tangible evidence of the success of the Expo.
“I was delighted to see an Ex-Shoalhaven High student who would have come to the Careers Expo some five or six years ago was now one of the Navy staff supporting the Expo.”
That former Shoalhaven High student was Midshipman Lachlan Murray who joined the Navy in February 2014 as an aspirant Aviation Warfare Officer.
Since then Midshipman Murray has completed the New Entry Officer Course and is currently in the Aspirant Aviators Program.
In 2015 he will commence a Bachelor of Science at the Australian Defence Force Academy before starting his training at the School of Air Warfare in 2018.
Midshipman Murray is certainly a young man with a plan and he says the Expo played a big part in this.
“Attending the Expo as a high school student I definitely sought out the Navy specific displays. I was always interested in aviation and the displays certainly assisted me in my decision to join the navy and provided me with direction as to which role suited me.” Lachlan said.
Lachlan enjoyed the experience of returning to the Expo as an Instructor. “The opportunity to be involved, in paying back the guidance and encouragement I was once given was an honour, I can only hope that I have assisted potential applicants as I was assisted.” he said.
Lieutenant Geoff Payne who attended with 816 Squadron said it was important for Navy to be involved in the Expo. “It allows us to showcase the vast careers and opportunities involved in an organisation that plays a large role in the local Shoalhaven economy. Hopefully the students gain an insight into what the Navy is all about and what we achieve on a daily basis.”
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to chat to students about the rewarding careers available in our organisation and also how the Fleet Air Arm fits into the wider Navy.”
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142236.