THE 'wealth of choice' available to young people planning their futures was on display as the Cowley Mini plant hosted its biggest careers fair yet.

Expanding industries across the county and an ever-increasing number of apprenticeships are tempting more teenagers to stay and pursue careers in Oxfordshire, according to organisers the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Big name local employers including BMW, the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Microsoft all had a presence at the event, aiming to inspire students to consider a career with them.

Rob Panting, communications manager at OxLEP, said: "The great thing is we have a whole range of employers that are based in the county.

"For young people looking at starting out on their careers, there is a huge number of opportunities open to them.

"We are fortunate to live in the second best performing economy in the whole country, we have a lot to offer young people and they are finding that they do not need to move away, their futures can be here in Oxfordshire."

Mr Panting said OxLEP are concentrating on forging partnerships between businesses and schools to help ensure students leave school with the skills needed to work in the many high-tech companies in the region.

First year Mini apprentice Daniel Webb, from Carterton, said he wanted to stay in the area because of family ties and to keep playing for Witney Rugby Club.

The 17-year-old added: "I've always been someone who is practical and hands-on and living so close to Mini, it was the perfect path for me.

"There are a lot of opportunities here, as a plant we are advancing and it feels like there are many options open for my future."

Vanessa Cover, of Kidlington-based ACE Training which offers apprenticeships in construction, said the event was the chance to 'plant ideas' in the heads of young people about what they could do in the future.

She said: "It's not easy but even if they just take a piece of paper and leave it lying around at home, maybe they will come back to it and think 'that is an option for me.'"

Ms Cover said an increased number of developments in Oxford had left the companies she works with 'crying out' for apprentices.

She added: "A couple of years ago there was hardly anything being built but now we've seen a whole range of new developments spring up and we are able to say 'you could be part of this'.

"I have employers lining up for good people, they are desperate for apprentices.

"I've never seen such demand before."

Among those attending the fair, which ran on Tuesday and Wednesday, was William King, 14, from Heyford Park Free School in Bicester.

He said we was tempted by a career in Formula One after watching races with his grandmother when he was younger.

Charlotte Whitford, 15, from the neighbouring Cooper School said she was interested in joining the police because she wanted to do more to help people.

Her teacher Mr Hiscock said the fair was valuable because it helps students 'make informed choices' and gives them ideas about what options may be open to them.