Budding engineers will be showcasing their capabilities to employers from across the region at Durham Oktoberfest, which this year celebrates its tenth birthday.

An Education Zone is once again being created to enable students from colleges and universities around the region to meet companies from the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Durham Oktoberfest takes places on Thursday, October 19, at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe.

Last year the designated education area, which attracted exhibitors from Hartlepool College of Further Education, South Durham UTC, New College Durham and East Durham College, was an overwhelming success with attendees feeding back that they were impressed with the calibre of students they met on the day.

This year, those colleges are all returning, while others to sign up include South West Durham Training.

Ben Gilhespy is Operations Director at County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN) which organises Durham Oktoberfest.

He said: “Future growth isn’t just about winning contracts or operating more efficiently, it’s also about attracting the best young talent into your business.

“To do that, businesses need to be meeting the potential engineering stars of tomorrow, those young people who could be their next engineer or technician, and that’s what the Education Zone is all about.

“It’s a designated area for our colleges and universities where businesses can choose to visit, and this approach we’ve found much more effective than general networking.

“It really is a great way to get a feel for what talent is out there – these students could well be among your future recruits and making their contribution to your continued growth.”

Graham Plant, Business Development Manager at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “It was great to be involved in the Education Zone at last year’s successful Oktoberfest event.

“This provided an excellent opportunity for our students to engage with professionals from industry whilst showcasing their talents, further developing the skills needed to succeed in this sector. We really look forward to being involved again this year.”

Catherine Purvis-Mawson, Business Engagement Manager at South Durham UTC, said: “Studying at the UTC South Durham provides young people with the opportunity to gain both an academic and technical education in an exciting and inspiring learning environment.

“UTC students work closely with employers to enable them to be qualified to work in sectors that are growing and looking for skilled staff.

“The Education Zone at Oktoberfest is the perfect example of how we are supporting students to not only enhance their knowledge of local business and industry but it is also gives them the chance to showcase their achievements, develop their communication skills and also gives them a unique opportunity to network with like-minded people who are seeking young talent to come and work for them.”

NSK Peterlee was also involved in the Education Zone with 24-year-old mechanical apprentice Luke Reeves from Peterlee exhibiting his ‘thread checker’ device.

Luke was on hand to demonstrate how the machine works to the hundreds of people from across the region who attended. He said: “I’m over the moon with the feedback I got from people, it’s been great.

“This is why I wanted to be an engineer, I wanted to create things that are going to make improvements to processes, which is exactly what this machine has done.”

Durham Oktoberfest celebrates its tenth birthday in 2017 and organisers have promised it will be bigger and better than ever.

In addition to the Education Zone and the main exhibition hall, there will be an Incubation Zone for micro firms with links to the engineering and manufacturing sectors, and themed workshops held throughout the day, including the University of Sunderland’s AMAP North East Maintenance Forum, which last year attracted over 100 people.

This year’s event is once again being supported by Business Durham as gold sponsor, while Nigel Wright Recruitment has also come on board as an associate partner.

To find out more visit the website, durhamoktoberfest.org.uk.

Durham Oktoberfest is also pleased to announce that on the evening of the event the regional Made in the North East awards hosted by Insider Media will be held at Redworth Hall Hotel. Businesses attending Oktoberfest are actively encouraged to get involved and promote their success by registering for one of the awards on offer. For more information visit https://www.insidermedia.com/event/made-in-the-north-east-awards-20.