Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield attended the 4C UR Future LIVE event in South Lake Leisure Centre on June 13, 2022.
The organisers of the event, 4C UR Future, is an industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make better informed decisions about their education pathway and future careers.
Five schools from around the borough attended the LIVE event, giving students from Banbridge Academy, Banbridge High School, Brownlow Integrated College, St John the Baptist College and St Ronan’s College a chance to experience the interactive game zones.
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 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 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 out the games and as a result will have a better understanding of their own aptitudes and capabilities, and how that relates to what they might like to do in the future.”
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield said it was “fantastic” to see the venue filled with students from the borough and the vast range of businesses represented from around the area.
He said, “In this day and age, it’s all about interaction with the children and certainly this morning’s event is absolutely fantastic to give them information to help them make the right career choices and choose the right path for them.
“As we see new sectors emerging in our economy, it’s really important that kids are given information to help them make informed choices as they head forward in their future career.”
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 fantastic that companies do get involved. We have a massive amount of businesses across our borough and it’s essential that they do come to these events and that young people see what’s out there” said the Lord Mayor, adding: “Sometimes we don’t realise what’s on our doorstep, what type of businesses there are, how they affect the global market. It really is great to see how the kids are getting involved and thinking about something they may never have thought about before.”
The activities are varied and 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.
Almost 700 students from five local schools attended the careers inspiration event, accompanied by teachers and school staff members, who praised the event.
The participatory nature promised an engaging experience for the students, giving them a break from the usual classroom learning and a chance to consider their future career paths in an interactive manner.
“They’re not just sitting in a room and listening to things,” said Sinead McCartan, Home Economics Teacher from St John the Baptist College, adding: “They’re moving around and doing things.”
The event and the information about different industries that it provides students with, has prompted students to consider different career paths, said Miss McCartan.
“Some are saying, ‘I’ve never thought about working in the food industry’,” she said. “The information about different industries has been fantastic.”
David Adams, Head of PE at Banbridge High School, highlighted the positive impact that 4C UR Future’s alternative approach to the usual career fair has had on his students.
“Normally they’re lethargic because they’re coming to the end of term, but here they’re buzzing. You can see within the groups there will be a few team leaders in years to come. Some pupils are very hands on and some have really taken to the tasks.”
With the job market constantly changing as society develops and becomes increasingly more digitalised, it is vitally important that schools and industries work together to ensure that students are well-informed of the career opportunities available to them.
This is a sentiment echoed by Brian Doran, Chief Executive of Southern Regional College, who praised 4C UR Future for enabling students to interact with employees from various companies across the country.
“I think the one message I’ve picked up on over the last few years is that a job isn’t for life,” said Mr Doran, adding: “Young people are going to move from job to job. The role of industry is instrumental in this.”
Mr Doran agreed that events like 4C UR Future would help to create relationships between schools and businesses, to allow young people to stay informed about and connected with the world of work.
“One of the strengths of events like this is that companies can better inform young people about their prospects,” he said.
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 4C UR Future’s website.