The annual SEN “What Next?” Careers Fair held at Merthyr Leisure Centre kept the members of the yr10 and 11 CoPE group entertained this year. Demonstrated at the 20 or so stalls promoting potential training pathways were activities relating to careers in Animal Care, Hair and Beauty, Music, Catering, Art, Construction, DJing, Sport and Fitness. A celebrity surprise was the Paralympian Aled Davies who won a Gold and Bronze medal in discus and shot put. He posed for (several) photographs and chatted to our pupils – you would not believe how heavy those medals are – they are definitely not made of chocolate…the photographs show what the pupils got involved in.
I have a confession to make I am not an F1 fan. The idea of spending a weekend watching cars drive round in a circle is not really my idea of fun. However, the company my dad works with has a contract with F1 Korea, hence we were invited for the weekend to the Yeongam circuit to watch the second Korean Grand Prix.
Yeongam is it seems thousands of miles away from Seoul. We were confidently told the journey would take 4 hours by coach, it seemed more like 20. Nevertheless, even for a somewhat bored teenager it was comical to watch a bunch of middle-aged people having fun singing karaoke songs and playing silly games, but it wiled away the time, and I can always tease my dad about his appalling rendition of Queen’s ‘We are the champions’. The westerners on board scored a woeful 68, whilst the lowest for our Korean friends was 92. (The stereotypically image of Welsh singers took somewhat of a bashing).
We stayed about 10 miles from the circuit, in a lovely little seaside hotel, fish soup for breakfast was a little challenging but the company of Korean visitors could not have been friendlier. Blonde hair in Korea made me stand out from the crowd.
The most amazing thing about Formula 1 is the noise. I thought it was going to be loud. It’s not loud it’s deafening, even 40 yards away from the cars and with ear defenders, it’s hard to hear yourself think. The rest was a bit of a blur, a chap called Vettel won and the Brits second and fourth. A little better than an afternoon of homework but quite a close run thing. NO NOT REALLY, I loved it! Sebastian Vettel is amazing and never disappoints. The race itself was a little bit predictable, but the speed is hard to convey. The cars are reaching speeds of over 200 miles an hour and the decelerating to 50 miles an hour to go round a sharp corner.
Seoul is a city of about 10 million people and is unlike any city in the UK. The city is built on the banks of the Han River that meanders for miles. For those that have visited London, the river is about 5 times as wide as the Thames, and in a similar way to London, the character of the city differs on the North and South. One side of the river the commercial buildings are lower normally 5 or 6 storeys, on the other they are skyscrapers, not New York but certainly very modern and very clean.
Unlike London, Seoul is surrounded by mountains that act to contain the city. As far as I can tell the city does not have a recognised centre, there are no districts as such, no area just for shopping or no area just for finance or no residential area. It’s all mixed together, in a great hubbub and higgledy piggledy mess, such creates almost permanent traffic jams on the main arterial roads that run each side of the river, the road network is reminiscent of spaghetti junction on speed. It’s not that the city is ugly, it has many beautiful buildings but there is no sense of a great architectural plan, but more a sense of just build, build, build. Such was a consequence of the desire to transform the country after years of war and occupation.
I suppose what I did notice most is the lack of trees and open space. The colour is grey.
I understand that almost all residents of Seoul live in apartments and that most of the apartments are identical. (one doesn’t have to be here for long to recognise that group uniformity is much valued and that individualism is discouraged). The apartments are normally about 18 storeys high and are either 2 or 3 bedrooms with a kitchen and living room area combined. It’s important to understand that it is normal for Korean people to live with their extended families, so a 3 bedroom flat may well have parents, grandparents and children all under one roof.
The result today is a city with some charm but lacking the old and new that we in Europe are so used too, it’s either 30 years old and decaying or brand new and amazing. There are no great historic buildings, and at the same time it’s not Dubai, it’s not a showcase city but a working hub that buzzes 24/7.
We are staying at the Seoul Olympic Parktel , a hotel built just after the Seoul Olympic games in 1988 and it’s surrounded by a beautiful park. An oasis of green space in the otherwise urban sprawl, the Olympic stadium surrounds the park, and incredibly there are numerous exercise equipment that are free to use and are non vandalised and unmonitored. It’s worth saying again, that within the parks and in many other areas along the riverbank, there is equipment that is free to use, open to the public and not damaged or covered in graffiti in any way.
The music department recently welcomed Mr Rhodri Browning, a sound engineer who has worked for a number of well-known TV programmes including This Morning and S4C’s rugby coverage. He spoke to the Y10 and Y11 BTEC students about his experiences as a musician working in the media. Our students were able to ask him questions ranging from how to break into working in TV to how you survive as a freelance in a competitive world. Some students even got to have a go on the outside broadcast sound equipment!
On 20th January a group of 20 year 12 ICT AS students visited Ikea in Cardiff to investigate how ICT is used within the store. We were given an extensive tour of the store by Human Resources manager Zoe Bunston.
First port of call was the shop floor where we saw a team of people from Interior Design putting the finishing touches to a room setting. We learned how each room is given a “story” for the target market. Every room you see in Ikea is first designed by the Interior Design department using CAD software on the computer to make sure all the furniture will be appropriately placed and will look good together on the shop floor.
We then observed one of the Ikea co-workers assisting a customer in the Home Furnishings department. We saw how the computer system allows them to look up the details of any of the products by scanning the barcode and finding out more details including how many are in stock.
The Kitchen department is one of the most important in Ikea and here customers can use CAD software to design their own kitchens. Students were all given 15 minutes to try out the software with assistance given by the professional kitchen designers.
After this we were taken behind the scenes to see the Graphics and Interior Design departments. This is where all the signage for Ikea Wales is produced and where the interiors of all the rooms are designed.
Following lunch in the Ikea restaurant we were given high-vis jackets and taken downstairs to the logistics control room. Here we learned how Just-In-Time stock control works at Ikea and saw the hand-held computers with barcode scanners used on the forklift trucks. We were also taken into the sectioned off area of the warehouse where customers do not normally go.
Lastly we visited the Human Resources department and saw how they use a computer system to schedule staff rotas using data on customer numbers from previous years to help them predict required numbers of staff.
Throughout the tour Zoe helped students to understand the sort of skills Ikea looks for in its employees and asked each co-worker to explain the different jobs they had had during their time at Ikea.
This was a very insightful trip and not only gave us all a far more in-depth understanding of how large retailers use ICT, but also opened students’ eyes as to the sorts of careers they could have and the importance of key skills in these jobs.
Yr 10 and Yr 11 CoPE Group members attended a Careers Fair held at Llantrisant Leisure centre on Friday 2nd October. The event was organized by Careers Wales and included a variety of activities from the practical to the informative including gardening, construction, car body work, art, cookery, music and hairdressing. Stands from the service industries included South Wales Police force, the Fire service and the Army. Pupils were encouraged to participate in activities at each stand as well as acquiring information from local colleges and employers. The Police force stand was very popular due to the ‘hands on’ activities provided by the officers!