4C UR Future, the industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education and future careers, held a successful 4C UR Future LIVE event for students from Mid and East Antrim Borough at Jim Baker Stadium, Templepatrick on 20 June 2022.
The LIVE event welcomed pupils from Ballymena Academy, St Louis’ Grammar School, Ulidia Integrated College, and Dunclug College for an action-packed day of work-based games and skills challenges.
Founded by engineer and business leader, Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with over 80 local employers to create an exciting and engaging event that enables students to identify their own 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 participating, so that as many Year 9’s 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.”
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.
“Some games they will like, some games they will dislike, some they’ll find easy and some they’ll find hard,” explained Rose Mary, adding: “It is important that they try each game and as a result have a better understanding of their own aptitudes and capability, and how that relates to what they might like to do in the future.”
Rhonda Lynn, Skills and Entrepreneurship Manager for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said that the council was eager to support an event such as 4C UR Future LIVE.
“We really want to see young people get practical experience and meet the variety of companies we have locally. It’s great to see so many of our key companies here today engaging with the students,” said Ms Lynn, adding: “I think it’s really important to work with students at Year 9 to try to open their eyes to the variety of opportunities that are out there before they pick their choices for their GCSEs.
“These kinds of events give them insights into areas that they maybe hadn’t considered before, and it might allow them then to explore other GCSE opportunities that they might enjoy, or have great benefits for them in their career pathway.”
Ms Lynn praised the interactive nature of 4C UR Future, and the exciting alternative that it provides to the usual careers fair: “Sometimes a careers fair can be slightly dry for young people, so by allowing them to get involved in all of the challenges they are exploring a lot more skills in a really fun way.”
The activities that the students take part in vary in each game zone and cover multiple sectors, giving them the opportunity to develop an insight into potential careers they may not have previously considered.
4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get across the message that it is crucial to reach students at the right age and raise their awareness to help them navigate the complex careers landscape.
“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.”
Students from four local schools attended the careers inspiration event, accompanied by teachers and school staff members.
Julie Guerét, Head of Careers at Ulidia Integrated College praised the engaging format of the 4C UR Future LIVE event.
“This is not a career fair, this is a day of activities,” she said. “It’s really hands-on – you explain what the kids need to do and then they get on with it.
“Because of the variety, and the fast-paced activities of 20 minutes each, I expect that we’ll get very tired young people on the way back to school! I’m hoping their heads will be full of ideas and they will have enjoyed this. “
Robert Moore, Careers Coordinator at Dunclug College shared a similar sentiment, discussing the difference between the LIVE event and typical careers fairs. He said:
“Careers fairs are a hive of activity, but today we’re not just going and lifting prospectuses and chatting to people. We’re actually getting involved, taking a seat and getting on with the activities and events that are on at each station and really getting a feel for the subject, speaking to the employers at the same time.”
Thanks to the games and activities on offer, students came away from the event with a greater knowledge of the future world of work and a better understanding of their own skills and abilities.
Head of Careers at Ballymena Academy, Ann Livingston, discussed the importance of holding events like 4C UR Future LIVE for Year 9 students.
“In careers, next year is a very, very important year for pupils,” she said. “They make their decisions about their GCSE subjects, so it’s really good that they have a chance to explore their abilities and their skills to make an informed choice for GCSE.
“We’re trying to tell them that their qualifications are just the baseline, it’s their skills that they can bring to employment that will help them to succeed in the future.
“This event helps them discover the skills they have so that they can match their chosen career with the skills they have, or even to develop new skills and take them out of their comfort zone, developing skills they haven’t yet had a chance to explore.”
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.
The 4C UR Future event gave students the power to interact with employers from various sectors, giving them an insight into the roles and responsibilities of different careers.
4C UR Future is running a calendar of LIVE events in different councils across Northern Ireland during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on the Events page of 4C UR Future’s website.