Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy, attended the 4C UR Future LIVE event at Newry Leisure Centre on June 9, 2022. The careers inspiration event, which is an exciting and interactive day of work-based games facilitated by local employers, was attended by Year 9 students from schools across the Newry Mourne and Down District Council area.
Pupils from Down High School, Our Lady’s Grammar School, Shimna Integrated College, St Joseph’s High School and St Paul’s High School had a chance to take part in interactive work-based games.
The event was run by 4C UR Future, the industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make better informed decisions about their education pathways and future careers.
Founded by engineer and business leader Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with numerous local employers to create a fun, 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 to be inclusive, with as many businesses and sectors as possible represented throughout.
“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 and facilitated by local employers.
“Some games they will love, some games they will hate, some they’ll find easy and some they’ll find hard,” explained Rose Mary, adding: “That’s important information for them to consider when thinking about what they might like to do in the future.”
Thanks to the games and activities on offer, students come away from the event with a greater knowledge of the future world of work and a better understanding of their own skills and abilities.
Having had a chance to see the event and the games in action, Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy said it is brilliant to see pupils so engaged with the game zones and learning about their own strengths and interests.
“They’re only 13, but you can see as soon as they finish their first game that they’re already focused on what they need to do next and they’re having fun, but more importantly, they’re learning new things about themselves.”
Mr Murphy also stressed the importance of reaching students at this stage in their education. He said: “I think it’s critical for pupils as they’re coming to a time now where they would be making choices that would take them on a pathway for the rest of their lives.
“It’s important for them to get a sense of what the world of work looks like and the jobs that might be available to them, what their particular skills and interests are, and to get them thinking in a new direction.
“Changes are happening very rapidly. The workforce is changing. Young people need to be equipped with the skills that they need, but they need to explore new areas and where their aptitude is in a variety of things and make sure they make the right choices.”
That is exactly the message that 4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty is keen to get across.
“It is crucial to reach students at the right age and raise their awareness of their own strengths and talents so they can better 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 schools from the region, providing students with an exciting and informative day out. Gerard McManon, an English Teacher from St Paul’s High School agreed that the 4C UR Future LIVE events are a great opportunity for active learning.
He said: “Pupils get a chance to meet other people from different schools and there’s a certain amount of excitement because of the very vibrant atmosphere.”
As opposed to traditional careers events, Mr McManon pointed out the difference the interactive game zones make to the student experience.
“This event is more interactive, there are lots of interactive zones, which give pupils an opportunity to explore their skills, see what they can do, and what they feel they’re interested in.”
Seeing what students are good at and where their aptitudes lie is an important step in helping young people believe in themselves and build their confidence.
“It is important that they start believing in their skills, looking at what they can do, and explore those avenues at a very early age,” he said.
Accompanying students from Down High School in Downpatrick, Head of Careers, Keith Williamson also wants teachers, young people, and their parents to consider the wide range of career options that are available.
“We don’t want our young people to have to make any knee-jerk decisions. We want to get conversations going with teachers and parents, and also with different organisations with vested interests.
“Pupils in Year 9, they’re starting to get a sense about the opportunities that are out there in the world of work. An event like today is really about arousing their curiosity, getting them to realise that there is so much that they haven’t even considered.”
4C UR Future is running a calendar of 11 LIVE events as an at-scale pilot across Northern Ireland in the month of June, with one event for each council area. The full schedule can be found on 4C UR Future’s website.