THOUSANDS of young job seekers got help forging their future as they attended a big careers fair today.

Around 2,000 young people headed to the ‘Blackburn with Darwen is Hiring’ event in Blackburn Cathedral and its grounds.

The event, which was set to be the largest in the borough, brought work hopefuls face to face with prospective employers and educational establishments.

More than 90 employers, businesses, charities, apprenticeship and education providers were on hand to discuss opportunities in the borough.

Students from schools including Blackburn Central High School, The Heights, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and Pleckgate High School, attended the event and got to speak to potential employers ranging from Thwaites and Euro Garages, to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The event has been organised in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackburn College, the Hive business network, Cummins Mellor, Northcote, Lancashire Employment and Skills Executive Partnership and Organic Insurance.

Ilyas Munshi, commercial director for Blackburn-based firm Euro Garages, said the event event aims to 'engage and touch the lives of over 2,000 young people.'

Mr Munshi said in a speech at the fair, which was also attended by representatives from sponsors and the council and Canon Andrew Hindley : "This is important as they are tomorrow's business leaders, workforce, entrepreneurs and parents.

"We want to give them the choices to be in control of their own destiny.""

Canon Andrew Hindley at Blackburn Cathedral said: "It's really good that we can hold an event like this.

"The cathedral and all religious places are all about life and living it and enjoying it and enjoying having money to spend in Blackburn with Darwen."

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen council, said: "Events like this are really important to raise awareness, and as a council, we want our young people to stay in the borough by studying and working."

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen council’s executive member for regeneration, said: "What this event aims to achieve is to provide young people with a range of opportunities so they can have a good and prosperous career without leaving Blackburn with Darwen.

"As a council, we want to raise awareness of the education and job opportunities on people's doorstep."

Helen Andrew, post 16 learning manager at Blackburn with Darwen council said: "It's important for us to focus on young people in the borough, so we can give them that choice.

"They need to know what the borough has to offer in terms of education and jobs, so they can get to control their own destiny and how to get there. This is what the event aims to do."

Ian Brown, director of HIVE business leaders network, local businessman and driving force behind the HIVE business school, said: "What we aim to do is join the world of businesses with education for the mutual benefit of students and for businesses.

"Events like this are a great way of doing that and raising awareness to young people of the great opportunities which do exist in Blackburn with Darwen in education and employment."

Nick Hall, business engagement manager at Blackburn College, said: "Events like this are important to raise awareness of the opportunities that do exist for young people, as one of the challenges the borough has is retaining its young talent, as often people are not aware of what is on their doorstep."