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 Omagh Leisure Complex on 27 June, 2022.
Pupils from Dean Maguirc College, Drumragh Integrated College, Loreto Grammar School, and St John’s Business and Enterprise College attended the 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, action-packed day 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 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.”
Councillor Barry McElduff, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, attended the event, where he had the opportunity to see first-hand how the young people were being engaged in an exciting, new way. Councillor McElduff praised the event’s interactive nature, saying:
“I think the young people are interested and really engaged. When I was observing the different games, the pupils didn’t notice me, and that’s what I wanted because they were wholly absorbed in the tasks that were laid out for them.”
“It’s been a very positive experience, and it’s great to see so many young people engaged enthusiastically with an educational programme about their future.”
Councillor McElduff discussed the importance of engaging with young people in regards to their career aspirations, particularly young people who are soon to make decisions about their GCSE subjects.
He said: “I think this is a crucial age to find out what your acumen is, what your aptitude is, find out what your skills base is and where you’re naturally inclined.
“I think it’s really good that pupils in Year 9 are discovering things about themselves, which will inform their decision-making about their own futures.”
He added: “If today helps these young people make up their minds about how they should live their future in terms of their career choice, then it’s a good day!”
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 four schools from the district, providing students and their accompanying teachers and school staff members with an exciting and informative day out.
Zoe Deery, Head of Careers at Drumragh Integrated College, shared similar sentiments, praising the way in which the games got students engaged and involved.
“I can see in the background they’re all engaged and all intrigued,” she said. “There’s a different variety of activities that they’ve never had a chance to do before. They’re enjoying getting to see the different local companies, NI Water and so on, that they probably had heard of but didn’t know what it entails.
“So far, the feedback’s been great. They’re all engaged and it’s great to see them working together with people they’ve never met before.”
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.
Stephen Hughes, a Senior Teacher at Loreto Grammar School, highlighted the benefits of the “hands-on” format of the 4C UR Future LIVE event.
“I think the format is fantastic,” he said. “This sort of carousel system where they’re all going around different zones in different groups is working very well. It’s very slick!”
Mr Hughes also praised the integrated nature of the event, which encouraged students to interact and cooperate with students from other schools.
He said: “The fact the pupils were all separated up in different groups and different categories with other schools is great because they’re interacting with other schools, mixing with other people and just getting to know people from the local area that they maybe hadn’t met before.”
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.