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 at Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown on 29 June, 2022.
Over 500 Year 9 pupils from St Pius X College, Sperrin Integrated College, Cookstown High School, St Patrick’s College, and The Royal School attended the event.
Founded by engineer and business leader, Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with numerous local employers to create an exciting, action-packed day that aims to help young people make empowered career choices by identifying their own strengths and interests relative to those 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.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Córa Corry, had the opportunity to watch the games in progress, and praised the format of the 4C UR Future LIVE event.
“The 4C UR Future event was a pleasure to witness. The buzz of the young people getting involved and hands-on. You could see before your eyes their confidence building as they took on challenges and were able to work them out using different problem-solving techniques. The smiles on their faces and level of participation was just fantastic.
“Giving young people the opportunity to engage and speak directly to the different industries involved in a fun yet challenging way definitely proved to be way more interactive, insightful and rewarding. It got them really thinking about what they’d want to do and enabled them to find out exactly what those roles entailed. It was an extremely successful event and one that I am proud to have been a part of.”
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.
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 also 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 five schools from the district, providing students and their accompanying teachers and school staff members with an exciting and informative day out.
Laura McCloskey, Head of Drama and Year 9 at Sperrin Integrated College, praised the event for introducing to the students career paths that they may not have previously considered, and for doing so in a hands-on, engaging manner.
“Sometimes they don’t get that within the classroom, so moving beyond the four walls of the classroom and doing things like this today, it shows them that there’s more to life than just sitting at a desk and learning that way.”
“I think moving around at the event is brilliant. There’s enough time at the event for them to move from zone to zone, play the games, and to relax and speak with other students and volunteers about other things, not just about the activities, which is lovely because they maybe would never get the chance to interact with the other kids attending the event outside of this setting, so it’s brilliant.”
Conor Wilson, Head of Careers at Cookstown High School discussed the importance of engaging with pupils of this age in regards to their career aspirations, especially as they begin to make decisions about their GCSE choices.
“The earlier you can get to the pupils the better. Keep it in the forefront of their minds that their education is to get qualifications, but that they also have to have an end point that they’re trying to get to in terms of developing skills and choosing a career path.
To open their eyes about the different opportunities that there are in Northern Ireland, and beyond, is great.”
Mr Wilson commented on the importance of businesses taking an interest and getting involved in the future of young people.
I think it’s key. There’s a challenge for the government, for education, and for businesses to try to close gaps and work closer together.
“Young people are the workers of the future, so it’s very important that we invest in them and open their eyes to the opportunities that there are, but also to prepare them for the opportunities that aren’t even there yet with the skills that they’ll need for the future.”
Cathal McShane, Tyrone GAA ‘All Star’ and Specification Executive at Keystone Group was one of the many volunteers at the LIVE event. Discussing why Keystone decided to support 4C UR Future, Mr McShane said: “We think this is a great initiative. We think it’s a great platform for children to get involved, a platform to help them go forward into a successful future.
“I know for myself, back in my day, we didn’t have a platform like this. The Keystone Group is all about what we can do for others, so we’re here volunteering today to help the children, to make sure that they can have a successful future going forward.”
“The feedback has been brilliant,” Mr McShane further said of the event. “They really seem to be enjoying themselves and that’s a credit to the organisers of the event. It’s a great event to be at, we’re proud to be here and it’s giving the children the best possible chance moving forward.”
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.
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 ran 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.