Staged once every two years, the Basel Career and Further Education Fair attracts around 60,000 visitors – including 24,000 school students – during a period from Wednesday to Sunday in October. At this event, some 150 exhibitors (including 60 professional associations) showcase 220 vocations that are all open to apprentices in the canton of Baselland. The fair's venue alternates between two 8,000 m2 exhibition sites in Liestal and Pratteln.
Even by the time they are 13 or 14, most school students still have no clear idea of the career they want to follow. They can turn to the internet as a suitable source of information. However, as Urs Berger, Deputy Director of the Baselland Economic Chamber and Head of Vocational Training, points out: «Personal contact and insights into actual practice are more powerful than any digital encounters. The Career Fair gives young people a chance to see what the real world of work is like.» Berger has been organising the Basel Career and Further Education Fair since 1999, with the help of a team from the Organisation Committee.
Young people want to explore careers and get hands-on experience so they can learn what to expect later on. «Please touch!» is the motto for booths representing every industry: they feature realistic presentations of each career, with fully equipped workstations including raw materials, machinery, apparatus, devices, tools, instruments, accessories – and even uniforms. In-depth discussions with apprentices and vocational trainers take place against a background of live work: assembly, hammering, configuration, measuring, soldering, maintenance and programming. Fair visitors eagerly seize the chance to exchange ideas with specialists, and they get answers to plenty of questions about basic training, promotion prospects and continuing education.
The Career Fair is a major event that is exposed to specific risks and potential damage. «We're confronted with numerous risks,» Urs Berger explains, «and we give very high priority to security.» Since 2006, Berger has counted on support from Protectas, which provides all the guarding and protection solutions as well as staff to monitor security at the venue. Thanks to this close and long-lasting collaboration, there have been no cases of theft, vandalism or other incidents either before, during or after the fair.
The portfolio includes a large number of varied tasks that can only be accomplished by one single provider on the basis of the most careful planning. For one thing, the site, the marquees and all the booths – including the machinery, tools and computers they contain – need to be protected day and night against malfunctions as well as theft.
Also, the complex setup and takedown logistics in the days preceding and following the fair mean that booth builders, suppliers and shippers have to work very closely together – with timing down to the last minute! Let's not forget the guarding work during the fair itself, as well as controlling admission to the event and directing visitor flows. And last but not least, there are meticulous preparations for scenarios such as medical emergencies, rapid evacuation, storms and attacks, including precisely defined guidelines for cooperation with the police, fire brigade and municipal authorities.
From the outset, support for the Career Fair is provided by the same Protectas security experts and specialists. As the two project teams tackle each task, they develop their working relationship and refine the concept as well as the approaches they will take to implement it. All security-related procedures during the fair are scrutinised and recorded.
This knowledge is used as input for planning the next fair. Urs Berger: "The Protectas people think along the same lines as us, they are constantly coming up with practical suggestions, and they make sure that we benefit from state-of-the-art technology." The latest example: the deployment of RVS (Remote Video Solutions).
Remote and video surveillance was introduced back in 2017 at Protectas' suggestion. Since then, it has proven so effective that it will operate in the indoor area as well as outdoors at the next fair. This story illustrates the successful results of deploying the cameras: One evening, noise and movement were detected from the neighbouring youth club.
The operations centre promptly used the loudspeakers integrated into the cameras to ask the group to vacate the premises. This struck terror into the unsuspecting miscreants, who left the site immediately – without causing any damage.
The next Career Fair, scheduled for 23 to 27 October 2021 in Liestal, will again take an interactive approach so that visitors can access multiple realms of experience. Finding new ways to drum up the enthusiasm of another «generation» of trainees every two years is a major challenge. Urs Berger: «We deliberately opt for the digital approach to appeal to young people. The Career Fair has a dedicated website and it communicates via social media. It goes without saying that we use QR codes and mobile phone apps for all visitor information.» Communication with exhibitors and partner companies is also entirely digital: Each booth has its own electronic dossier containing all documents, safety and security requirements, and constantly updated visitor statistics. Instructions are also sent out online to partners such as transportation companies that provide special trains and buses. «Thanks to consistent digitalization of all the processes, we can keep track of the overall picture – and this is also a contribution to sustainability,» the head of the OC notes. Incidentally, he is fully committed to the principles of the continuous improvement process («kaizen») and a firm advocate of innovation.