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, held a successful pilot 4C UR Future LIVE event at Newry Leisure Centre on June 9, 2022.
The event was attended by Year 9 pupils from Down High School, Our Lady’s Grammar School, Shimna Integrated College, St Joseph’s High School and St Paul’s High School.
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 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.”
Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Michael Savage was in attendance and said the LIVE events are an inspiring initiative to help young people shape their future.
“For too long we’ve exported our biggest talent – our young people. I want to take our very well-educated young workforce and give them a pathway so that they stay here and don’t feel they have to go across the water for opportunities. I want them to realise their future is here; we need to create career opportunities for them.”
The Chairperson also wants to encourage key stakeholders to support the development of our young people, he said: “It’s about helping young people be the best person they can be. This process can only grow and get bigger.
“I would encourage central government and stakeholders in the development of our young people to put the funding in place and give young people the opportunities they need to see and realise their own potential.”
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.
“This event is a fun-filled way of putting children on an equal status where they all have an opportunity to shine. 4C UR Future LIVE allows them to see where their strengths lie,” he added.
The activities are varied and cover multiple sectors, giving students the opportunity to 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.”
Over 700 students from five local schools attended the careers inspiration event, accompanied by teachers and school staff members.
Olivia Murray, Mathematics Teacher from St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook praised the event for getting students excited and getting them interacting with pupils from other schools and with companies from the local area.
She said: “There’s so much to learn from the activities, especially working with local companies, getting your foot in the door and speaking to people. It’s great to see pupils getting involved.”
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.
English Teacher, Michael Crossan, from Our Lady’s Grammar School in Newry highlighted the importance of getting students out of the classroom and interacting with their peers and employers.
“The chance to get the girls out of the school and classroom to do something that they haven’t been able to do for the last two years – even beyond the careers aspect – the social aspect has been great, meeting up with pupils from other schools.
“We’re very keen to give the girls a head start, and all the diverse activities here have given them ideas about what they want to do.”
The 4C UR Future LIVE events give 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.