Councillor Ivor Wallace, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, attended the 4C UR Future LIVE event held in Coleraine Leisure Centre on 22 June 2022.
4C UR Future, the industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education and future careers, welcomed pupils from Limavady Grammar School, Limavady High School, North Coast Integrated College, St Patrick’s College (Dungiven), and Loreto College to the immersive and skills-based event.
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 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.”
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 each game and as a result have a better understanding of their own aptitudes and capability, and how that relates to what they might like to do in the future.”
Councillor Ivor Wallace, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, had a chance to see first-hand how the event engages young people in a new and exciting way. He praised the “interactive” nature of the games, and commented on how “enthusiastic” the students were about them.
He said, “What impressed me most here today was the enthusiasm of the children, and that enthusiasm only comes because of all the game zones that have been set up and how they are just so well done.”
Cllr Wallace acknowledged the impressive effort of the volunteers from local businesses, such as Northern Ireland Water and Ryobi, who helped bring the 4C UR Future LIVE event to life.
“The number of volunteers here is absolutely amazing,” said Cllr Wallace. “What I’ve found in my short term as Mayor so far, is that this country depends so much on volunteers, and this event this morning just absolutely solidifies that idea.”
He also commented on the importance of local businesses playing an active role in the career decisions of young people, saying: “I’m sure there are more businesses out there that would benefit from getting involved; it’s important to engage with students at this age, it’s very worthwhile, and eventually these young people will be the workforce of the future.”
The unique format of the 4C UR Future LIVE events not only focuses on Year 9 pupils, but also on the wide range of companies who help to facilitate the varied games and activities, offering young people an insight into the wide range of sectors and different roles available, and 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 also 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.”
The event was attended by five schools from the borough, providing students and their accompanying teachers and school staff members with an exciting and informative day out.
Jenny Calvin, a senior teacher and Head of Careers at Limavady High School, praised the LIVE event and highlighted the benefits it has for Year 9 students.
“I think it’s a very good event. It’s much more engaging, and I think it’ll get the thought processes going because the students have been very much involved in the activities and in the information gathering. I’d definitely recommend it.”
Ms Calvin discussed the importance of capturing the attention of students of this age in relation to their careers aspirations. She said, “I think it’s really important because it gets them thinking seriously about subjects they might need to enter career areas that they’ve found interesting or engaging. I think it’s very important to give pupils as wide a range of information as possible so that they can make informed decisions.”
Peter Laird, a careers and work experience teacher at Limavady Grammar School, also praised the format of the LIVE event.
He said: “There are lots of things going on and nothing is too long winded. It’s generally very good and very well organised as well.”
He discussed the positive impact of bringing students to a careers event like 4C UR Future LIVE, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, which significantly hindered the ability of students to engage with organisations outside of school.
“They haven’t been out of school the last two years,” said Mr Laird. “It’s an opportunity for them to see different sectors and just get involved in careers again after the pandemic.”
Volunteer Debbie Deans, Director of Business Development at 21 Training, discussed the importance of organisations and businesses getting involved in events like 4C UR Future LIVE, and how it can benefit both students and businesses alike.
“It’s so important because these are our employees, trainees, and apprentices of the future,” she said. “We need to get to know them better for us to develop our business. We need to know what it is they need, and we need to be ready to provide it for them and to provide it for the industry as well, with the skills in the pipeline that they so badly need at this time.
“We have ten of our staff volunteering here today, and volunteering at some of the upcoming events too. They are just loving it. It’s a great experience for them. It’s a great way for them to develop as well.
“It’s just brilliant, and I think that every company should be getting involved.”
Commenting on the atmosphere of the event itself, Ms Deans said, “We are blown away by how enthusiastic [the students] are. They’re really engaged.
“They haven’t been here before, so they don’t really know what to expect. It’s a real pleasure to see their eyes light up when they see it’s something completely different than the traditional careers advice that we would have had at school.
“It’s really all about drawing out of them what their strengths are, and it’s an absolute pleasure to see how much they’re enjoying it. We are just buzzing to be here too.”
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 LIVE 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 was running a calendar of LIVE events in different councils across Northern Ireland during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on the Events page of 4C UR Future’s website.