Over 700 Year 9 students from post-primary schools across Belfast had the opportunity to take part in a careers inspiration event featuring ten interactive work-based games and skills challenges, which have been co-designed with employers from across all sectors, to draw out each young person’s strengths and aptitudes.
The industry-led social enterprise, 4C UR Future, which aims to empower young people to make better informed decisions about their education pathway and future careers, held a successful pilot 4C UR Future LIVE event at St George’s Market in Belfast on June 1, 2022.
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 enables students to identify their own strengths and interests, relative to those that are in demand by local employers.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” said Rose Mary, adding: “what we’re doing is bringing that community to careers.
“4C UR Future 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 event was a departure from typical employment skills seminars, and instead embraced a more interactive, hands-on approach. Pupils had the opportunity to participate in an exciting range of skills games and work-based activities, each of which was developed and facilitated by local employers.
Rose Mary explained: “This is not like a traditional careers fair, where young people come in and wander around and dip into things or not. With 4C UR Future LIVE every young person, every ‘player’, has to try everything and that is intentional.
“Some games they will love, some games they will hate, some they’ll find easy and some they’ll find hard. And that’s important information for them to consider when thinking about what they might like to do in the future.”
Attending the first of the 11 industry-led and cross-sectoral pilot careers inspiration events, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Michael Long said: “I think it’s important that we actually focus on where there are opportunities.
“There are lots of opportunities in IT, in FinTech, Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Healthcare, Hospitality, Tourism and more, so it’s important that young people actually know about those kinds of things.
“Sometimes it’s just assumed that you go to university or go out and get a job; this event allows pupils to look at different skill sets that they might have, and maybe think of something that they’ve never had the opportunity to know about before. I think today’s going to be very useful from that point of view.”
Coming along to the event with Year 9 students from St Joseph’s College, ICT teacher Emmett Deane said: “I think it’s a good opportunity for them to be able to see what type of pathways they can possibly get into. Just giving them that insight is very beneficial for them at this stage of their life.
“If they have an idea of the areas that they like and what they may want to do, it gives them an insight at a young age, something they can build on or build towards, coming into their GCSEs and A-Levels.”
Relaying similar sentiments, Head of Careers, John McAvoy at Bloomfield Collegiate School admitted it was the focus on Year 9 students that resonated with him, as he believes this age group is often left out of careers events.
He said: “For the first couple of years of secondary school, many kids don’t know what they want to do. An event like this offers them opportunities and the 10 game zones, each in their own little way, can capture the kid’s interests. It’s terrific.”
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.
4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty said: “Over 80 employers and supporting organisations are involved in 4C UR Future LIVE 2022 and we’re mobilising over 450 ‘Career Heroes’ from our volunteer community to deliver and facilitate the LIVE events across the province.”
“Pupils can experience first-hand what their future careers could look like through fun and challenging games. For young people, this means they can directly interact with each sector represented and get a feel for the industry before they make their all important GCSE choices.
“The world of work is changing rapidly with new jobs, and even entirely new sectors, emerging. This has resulted in a complex careers landscape that can make choosing GCSE subjects, further education pathways, and future career options overwhelming, confusing, and stressful for our young people.
“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.”
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 series of 11 LIVE events as an at-scale pilot across Northern Ireland, supported by 10 councils, during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on the Events page of 4C UR Future’s website.