Will BA's fair deal take off?

Paul Gosling on the airline's recent jobs exhibition

BRITISH AIRWAYS believes it may have started a trend last month. It presented its first big recruitment fair at an exhibition centre, attracting 20,000 people interested in filling 7,000 vacancies over the next year. The event was such a success that the airline says it expects to run similar events in the future.

"So far we have received 8,500 CVs, and are receiving another 300 a day for jobs in finance, corporate resources and world cargo," says Tina Oakley, BA's head of recruitment. "We have been impressed by the calibre of people, particularly since many who have had the opportunity to speak directly to staff at the fair are submitting informed applications."

A key reason for BA to conduct the recruitment fair, called "The Working World of British Airways", was to improve the quality of applications and ensure that potential employees understand more about the jobs they are seeking. Since the fair more than 1,000 people have applied for cabin crew jobs and more than 3,500 have sought customer service jobs at Heathrow or Gatwick.

Ms Oakley added: "The idea behind the fair was to find an imaginative way of boosting recruitment by showing people just what a huge range of different jobs we offer, and also the opportunities for career development. We are currently going through our biggest ever recruitment drive. With the number of recruits we are looking to attract [totalling 15,000 over three years], it makes sense to stage the biggest company careers fair the UK has ever seen."

Mervyn Walker, director of human resources at BA, adds: "The fair has given people a chance to find out all they need to know about British Airways. It also attracted people we might otherwise miss through traditional recruitment methods. We wanted to reflect our changing customer mix and will focus on recruiting people from more diverse communities with language skills."

One hundred BA staff were on hand to explain to visitors what the available jobs were really like, supported by several interactive exhibitions to demonstrate typical working experiences. One of these was a flight simulator, operated under the supervision of an experienced pilot. Career workshops were also on offer. To ensure a high attendance the fair was heavily promoted.

BA's fair also proved popular with the host exhibition site, Earls Court Olympia. Barry Brown, a spokesman, said that the numbers attending were impressive and justified the decision of BA to employ street entertainers, keeping queuing visitors happy. Mr Brown said that holding a recruitment fair reflected Earls Court Olympia's desire to break away from the image of a traditional exhibition and conference venue.

Angela Baron, policy adviser to the Institute of Personnel and Development, says that other large employers will have carefully noted BA's experience. "If it has been that successful then I would expect others to follow," she says. "It does depend on the cost-benefit analysis. Others probably wouldn't put on something as big as that even if they were looking to recruit a couple of thousand people. It depends on what sort of staff you are recruiting. It doesn't surprise me that an employer like BA should do this, with jobs like those of customer service staff. It is beneficial because you can demonstrate what the job is actually like. There is very little you can get over in an advertisement. Lots of people will say they will give an application a go even if the job is not suitable. Then it is up to the recruiter to sift through, and dealing just with CVs doesn't tell you much. With a fair you have 10 to 15 minutes with each potential applicant to tell them what the job is really about, and people can self- select. You are more likely to have quality candidates."

Ms Baron says BA is only one of many corporations looking to adopt more imaginative recruitment processes to attract more applicants from within ethnic minorities.

One of the issues, particularly for Asian job seekers, Ms Baron suggests, is that it is the traditional professional jobs such as accountants and doctors that are most sought after, and employers have to promote their own high-status jobs as a respected alternative.

Demonstrating at an exhibition that a corporation already employs many ethnic minority staff can encourage others to apply, explains Ms Baron.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone