Education Minister Attends 4C UR Future LIVE Careers Inspiration Event In Newtownards

(L-R) Rachel Doherty Managing Director of 4C UR Future, The Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Cllr Karen Douglas and Rose Mary Stalker, Founder of 4C UR Future Photo by Francine Montgomery

Minister for Education, Michelle McIlveen MLA, attended the 4C UR Future LIVE event at the Blair Mayne Wellbeing & Leisure Complex in Newtownards on June 7, 2022. The 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 borough. 

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 seen the event first hand, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen agreed that attending 4C UR Future LIVE is a valuable step for pupils in their education journey.

“As part of our young people’s education journey, it is so important that they have access to the information and experiences that will help to shape their future career path. 

“That is exactly what the 4C UR Future LIVE initiative aims to do. Their innovative events across Northern Ireland are giving thousands of Year 9 pupils an early opportunity to explore their talents and skills.

“Navigating the careers landscape can be very daunting, but these events will help to inspire and empower young people to make choices that are right for them.”

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 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 Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Councillor Karen Douglas, was also in attendance and said that she and the council were “delighted” to support the event. 

“It’s innovative, and it’s great to see the private and public sectors coming together for this event,” said the Mayor. 

“These are our young people, so we want to make sure that we, the council, are working with partner agencies to ensure that we offer a range of support services to let them grow and thrive in the borough.

“We want them to stay and work here, so we have to provide them with the opportunities to do that.”

The games were run by volunteers from local employers, called ‘Career Heroes’, who represent a diverse range of Northern Ireland’s key employment sectors, giving students an opportunity to network as they took part in the activities.

The event was praised by teachers from the schools in attendance, who lauded the alternative, game-based approach of the 4C UR Future LIVE events. 

Lucy Dougan, a physics teacher from Regent House Grammar School, explained how students can sometimes feel limited, in terms of their career options, but the 4C UR Future LIVE event has shown them that there are opportunities for different skill sets.

“Sometimes you think you’re boxed in in terms of career, but you can see the different paths that you’re capable of taking.

“It’s one of those events where students get to see people from different schools, but they’re also able to experience different types of careers.”

The Year 9s rotated through the ten different games throughout the day, ensuring that every student was able to get involved with each activity. Thanks to this structure, pupils were able to discover and develop an insight into sectors that they may not have previously considered as a career path. 

Mr J McKee, Head of Year 9 at Movilla High School, praised the interactive nature of the event, in regards to both the activities on offer and the fact that it provides students with an opportunity to mix with young people from other schools within the region.

“There are so many schools around,” said Mr McKee. “Students are getting a chance to see their friends, interact with them, find an interest in different careers, and make new friendships.

Of the various games that students took part in, Mr McKee said: “They’ve loved the food industry game, making pies and getting hands on and covered in flour. Although I don’t think the parents will be too pleased when they get home!” 

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. 

To find out more, or if you’d like to get involved, go to 4curfuture.com or email info@4curfuture.com

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Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.