4C UR Future, the industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education pathways and future careers, held a successful 4C UR Future LIVE event for students from the Derry City & Strabane District Council area at Foyle Arena on 24 June 2022.
The LIVE event welcomed pupils from Holy Cross College, Oakgrove Integrated College, St Brigid’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School, and Thornhill College for an 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 and engaging event 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 taking part, 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.”
Councillor Sandra Duffy, Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council, attended the LIVE event, where she had the opportunity to witness the pupils in action, enjoying the game zones.
I spoke with many children who have all had a great time today. Going round the different game zones, there were young people making pies, doing strategic work, building structures, connecting hospitals to fibre networks, producing clean energy, and more. There were so many activities on offer and everything they were doing, they were so enjoying it. That’s what it’s all about.”
Cllr Duffy also highlighted why it is vital to engage students at this stage in their career journey.
Many young people don’t know what’s out there, they’re not even aware of their own skills and what they might be good at, so it’s really important to bring children together in a fun environment, where they can feel safe and secure in exploring these things, and maybe find that there are jobs out there they have skills for that they’re not even aware of. I think it’s really important for the employability of a future generation to get to events like this.”
Bringing together varied sectors and industries from across Northern Ireland, local businesses get a first-hand look at the future generation of their workforce. Cllr Duffy said it was ‘fantastic’ to see so many local businesses represented at the event.
I was absolutely so impressed to see so many local businesses here today. I was having a conversation with people from McColgan’s in Strabane, I was talking to people here from FinTrU and they were discovering there were children here with really amazing skills. It’s really important that these companies come into our city and district, they see what’s on offer, and train the next generation.”
She urged businesses to consider participating in future events and emphasised that Derry City & Strabane District Council “will always support events that promote jobs and investment for our future generation”.
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.
Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, also visited the LIVE event. He stressed the importance of giving young people the opportunity to explore the world of work, learn more about their skills, and engage directly with employers.
I’m really inspired if I’m honest. This has been a really powerful experience for me as somebody who represents our manufacturing community. To see children deeply engaged in the activities that they are asked to participate in, none of them are wandering about, none of them are running off to try and amuse themselves, they’re all really stuck into the tasks that are there in front of them.”
Aside from giving pupils a chance to engage with employers, 4C UR Future is helping to bridge the disconnect between schools and the world of work by ensuring that teachers, as well as pupils, understand that the employers who have signed up to take part are there to support, assist, and build a powerful relationship for the future. Mr Kelly explained:
Manufacturers, as well as everybody in business, are really struggling to get the people they need to meet the orders that they’ve managed to secure. If we’re going to be in with a chance of reaching the kind of economic ambition that we have, then we need great people coming to our businesses at all levels.”
“We would encourage not just the manufacturers that are already here, but other manufacturers across Northern Ireland, to sit alongside 4C UR Future, to get engaged with this project, and to really begin to inspire that next generation of workers and young people to come through into their businesses.”
The aim of the LIVE events is to provide a young person-centred approach to careers advice, reach pupils at the right age, and raise their awareness to help them navigate the complex careers landscape.
That is the message 4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get across.
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.”
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.
Providing pupils with an exciting and informative day out, the event held in Foyle Arena welcomed five schools from the district, with almost 550 Year 9 pupils in attendance.
Technology Teacher, Padraig Rebar, from St Joseph’s Boys’ School said they decided to get involved with the event to give pupils an idea about what their future careers could look like.
We brought our Year 9 pupils to engage them before they move to Year 10 and they choose their GCSE subjects. When they come to this event, they get a good understanding and possibly an idea of where their strengths lie. They can then move forward with what they’ve learnt here today and get an idea about the direction that they want to take, and what they could be doing when they finish school.”
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, with one event in each Council area across Northern Ireland as an at-scale pilot, during the month of June. The full schedule can be found here: https://4curfuture.com/events/.
To find out more, or if you’d like to get involved, visit 4curfuture.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.