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, held a successful 4C UR Future LIVE event at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, Lisburn on June 15, 2022. 

The event was attended by Year 9 pupils from Lisnagarvey High School, Fort Hill Integrated College, Friends’ School, and Breda Academy.

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 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.”

Having had the opportunity to witness the game zones in action, Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chairman of the Development Committee at Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council agrees the 4C UR Future LIVE events help pupils make informed decisions that can affect their future. This includes their GCSE subject choices, education pathway, and future career aspirations.

Alderman Ewart MBE said: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to show the young people from post-primary schools in our area that where they live is a great place for their future careers to thrive.

“Events focussed on future opportunities give our young people both an invaluable insight into the future world of work and how they can use their talents and skills to make a real difference to their future.”

The alternative approach 4C UR Future has taken to traditional careers fairs has similarly impressed David Watson, retired Managing Director and Senior Advisor at Ryobi. 

“I think this is one of the most exciting events and exciting initiatives I’ve seen in a long time,” he said, adding: “It’s so important for young children today, who have so many choices in front of them at school, to be able to focus their minds and understand what is their natural aptitude. 

“Everybody has different aptitudes for different careers, and at that early age it’s important to understand. There’s games and activities for engineering, construction, hospitality, computers, and more. 

“Students can work in a group, understand what their leadership capabilities are, how their group dynamics pull together, and it really gives them something they can be proud of.”

The activities that the students take part in vary in each game zone and cover multiple sectors, giving them 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.” 

Students from the four local schools attended the careers inspiration event, accompanied by teachers and school staff members.

Teachers praised the event not merely for its benefits as a careers inspiration event, but that it enabled students to mix and cooperate with pupils from other schools – something that many young people haven’t had the chance to do in light of the recent pandemic. 

Leah Sherry, teacher of IT and Business Studies at Lisnagarvey High School, agreed that the 4C UR Future LIVE event provided students with the “kinds of life experiences” that many pupils haven’t had due to the pandemic and that not only does 4C UR Future provide young people with employability skills, but that it teaches them key life skills too. 

“The benefits are how practical it is, how hands-on it is,” Ms Sherry said, discussing the ways in which 4C UR Future differs from a usual careers event. “It’s not just going up to a stall, chatting to someone for a minute or two, getting a wee bit of paper – that doesn’t really stick with the kids; it’s something very easy to forget.

“Whereas, a few years down the line, this will be something they’ll remember. They’re out there, being hands-on, playing with the dough, the robots, the coding, all the real practical activities – that’s what will stick with them in the long term.”

Besides the practical elements of the ten game zones, it is the interaction with the wide range of organisations taking part, which makes it more engaging for students. John Watson, Head of Year 9 at Friends’ School Lisburn, echoed a similar sentiment and commended the hands-on nature of the LIVE event.

“This is very interactive for them, which is crucial,” he said, adding: “You need young people engaged in these events and to think about their career. Here they’ve got each business setting up a different zone where students are able to get immersed in that industry, which is brilliant.

“It’s far better than hearing somebody talking just about their business. You’re actually seeing it, seeing what’s required, it’s great.” 

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. Students were rotated through each of the ten game stations, ensuring that each young person had the opportunity to try activities that were new to them. 

Rebecca McGeary, a PE teacher at Fort Hill Integrated College, praised the fact that the LIVE event provided students with an alternative way of considering their future careers. 

“The students have really enjoyed looking at a different side of things. I think it’s been a real eye-opener for some students and hopefully beneficial to them.” she said

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 calendar of LIVE events in different councils across Northern Ireland during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on 4C UR Future’s website. 

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

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