Alderman Stephen Ross, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, attended the 4C UR Future LIVE event held in Jim Baker Stadium on Friday, June 17.
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. The LIVE event welcomed pupils from Abbey Community College, Glengormley High School, Parkhall Integrated College, St Benedict’s College, and Malone Integrated 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 participating, 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.”
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.”
Alderman Stephen Ross, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, has shown support for the pilot event, saying:
“This is a wonderful event and I am delighted that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council provided funding in support of it. It brings young people from different schools together and showing them the wide range of sectors and careers available. These events take young people out of a traditional educational setting and it shows them where their strengths lie through taking part in a range of practical and engaging games and activities.”
The unique format of the 4C UR Future LIVE events not only focus on Year 9 pupils, but also on the wide range of companies who help to facilitate the games and activities, offering young people an insight into the wide range of sectors and different roles available.
“I think it is absolutely essential for companies to get involved. It’s great to see so many businesses taking part today. We know there are skills gaps, and these young people could be their future employees. It’s great to get young minds thinking about what’s possible in their life.”
The varied activities of the event cover multiple sectors, giving students the opportunity to discover and develop an insight into potential careers they may not have previously considered.
4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get the message across, 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.”
The event was attended by four schools from the borough, providing students and their accompanying teachers and school staff members with an exciting and informative day out.
Steve Caldwell, a Learning Support Assistant at Parkhall College praised the LIVE event, commenting on the benefits of bringing students to engaging events such as this.
“It’s nice for the pupils to get a change of environment,” said Mr Caldwell. “Not only to learn about careers but to get involved in it all too. It will start a lot of conversations about what they want to do after school.”
Northern Ireland Water was one of the many local businesses that provided volunteers for the LIVE events. Sara Venning, CEO of NI Water, discussed the company’s involvement with 4C UR Future and why it is so important for businesses to engage with young people.
“The STEM subjects that we are involved in are so interesting, but a lot of the time young people don’t realise the great roles they can have, so we want to share our passion. We want to inspire the engineers and the technicians of the future,” she said. “We need to reach them before they make their GCSE choices and before they lock themselves out of potential career options.”
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 LIVE 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.