The 4C UR Future LIVE event was held in Foyle Arena on Friday, June 24.
The industry-led social enterprise, 4C UR Future, aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education and future career pathways, with the LIVE event welcoming pupils from Holy Cross College, Oakgrove Integrated College, St Brigid’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School, and Thornhill College.
Founded by engineer and business leader, Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with over 80 local employers to create an exciting, action-packed day that enables students to identify their strengths and interests, relative to those that are in demand by different sectors.
“4C UR Future LIVE was designed from the very beginning to be at-scale and inclusive, with all sectors represented and as many businesses as possible taking part, so that as many Year 9s as possible get the chance to participate and to shine.
“We’re encouraging young people, before they make their GCSE choices, to look at the vast range of companies working in Northern Ireland today, look at the wide range of sectors, and by playing games explore their own strengths and attributes.”
Councillor Sandra Duffy, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, was among those who visited the event and had an opportunity to find out about some of the employability opportunities that exist.
The 4C UR Future LIVE events are a departure from typical employment and careers seminars and instead embrace a more interactive, hands-on approach. Pupils have the opportunity to participate in an exciting range of skills games and work-based activities, each of which is co-designed with and facilitated by local employers.
Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, also stressed the importance of giving young people the opportunity to explore the world of work, learn more about their skills, and engage with employers.
“I am really inspired if I’m honest, this has been a really powerful experience for me as somebody who represents our manufacturing community.
“To see children deeply engaged in the activities that they are asked to participate in, none of them are wandering about, none of them are running off to try and amuse themselves, they’re all really stuck into the tasks that are there in front of them.”
Apart from giving pupils a chance to engage, 4C UR Future is helping to bridge the disconnect between schools and the world of work, by ensuring that teachers, as well as pupils, understand that the employers who have signed up to take part are there to support, assist, and build a powerful relationship for the future.
Mr Kelly explained: “Manufacturers, as well as everybody in business, are really struggling to get the people they need to meet the orders that they’ve managed to secure. If we’re going to have a chance to reach the kind of economic ambition that we have, then we need great people coming to our businesses at all levels.
“We would encourage not just the manufacturers that are already here but other manufacturers across Northern Ireland to sit alongside 4C UR Future, to get engaged with this project, and to really begin to inspire that next generation of workers and young people to come through into their businesses.”
The aim of the LIVE events is to provide a young person-centred approach to careers advice, reach pupils at the right age, and raise their awareness to help them navigate the complex careers landscape.
That is the message 4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get across.
“Through 4C UR Future LIVE events and our first-generation CAREERS PORTAL, which is launching in September, we aim to inform young people of the wide range of opportunities available to them, help them navigate the complex careers landscape, and inspire them to achieve their ambitions and become the best version of themselves.”
On how these events are different from traditional careers fairs, Rachel said: “It’s the energy. It’s the buzz. There’s live music, it’s fast paced, the pupils are engaged and playing games. They’re finding out what they’re good at, there’s a little healthy competition, and they’re supporting each other.”
With the impact of the pandemic still making itself known in an already highly competitive job market, it has never been as important for students to have opportunities to develop skills that are highly sought after in the workplace.
Providing pupils with an exciting and informative day out, the event held in Foyle Arena welcomed five schools from the district, with almost 550 Year 9 pupils in attendance.
Local Technology teacher, Padraig Rebar from St Joseph’s Boys’ School said they have decided to get involved with the event to give pupils an idea about what their future careers could look like.
“We brought our Year 9 pupils to engage them before they move to Year 10 and they get to choose their subjects. They can move forward with what they’ve learnt here today and get an idea about the direction that they want to take,” he said, adding: “They get a good understanding and possibly an idea where their strengths lie. When they come here they get a practical idea, as to what they could be doing when they finish school.”
4C UR Future ran a calendar of LIVE events, with one event in each Council area across Northern Ireland as an at-scale pilot during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on the Events page of 4C UR Future’s website.