Mid & East Antrim school children inspired by ground-breaking 4C UR Future event

School children from across Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have been inspired by the local business world with displays of some of the most advanced engineering and manufacturing technologies at the 4C UR Future event in Ballymena.

Rose Mary Stalker, Chair of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Manufacturing Taskforce, and Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Councillor Lindsay Millar meet students from Larne High School, St. Patrick’s College Ballymena, Ballymena Academy and Carrickfergus College.

4C UR Future

4C UR Future, an event which is part of Mid and East Antrim’s Enterprise Fortnight, saw some of the most exciting companies from across the borough open their doors to the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs at Northern Regional College’s Ballymena campus. The event aimed to highlight the future career pathways and opportunities available to the students within Mid and East Antrim’s manufacturing and engineering sector.

Over 150 school children from Ballymena Academy, St. Patrick’s College, Carrickfergus Grammar and Larne High School took part in action-packed workshops, enabling them to experience typical engineering roles; speak with staff from local businesses; experience a range of interactive exhibits including virtual reality welding headsets, drones, generators and a full-scale Wrightbus.

Organisations involved included Caterpillar Northern Ireland, Clarke Façades, Cranswick, GES Group, IPC Mouldings, McAuley Engineering, Plotbox, Ryobi, Sensata Technologies, Wrightbus and Yelo.

Councillor Lindsay Millar, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “The 4C UR Future event truly is a ground-breaking event for the borough and has proven to be an outstanding success. The school children have had a taste of the brilliant things which are going on in the companies on their doorstep.

“The manufacturing and engineering sectors are extremely important to Mid and East Antrim. By showcasing the variety of paths available to our young people within these industries, we are helping keep the sector a vibrant and forward-thinking one to establish and develop a career in. This is one such initiative to help grow the sector to become bigger and even better than ever.”

The pilot initiative stemmed from the companies and stakeholders involved in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Manufacturing Taskforce, an initiative set up earlier this year which aims to rejuvenate the manufacturing sector within the borough.

Rose Mary Stalker, Chair of the Manufacturing Taskforce, said: “We knew we needed to take steps to change the perception of the engineering and manufacturing locally. This pilot has been designed to inform and inspire young people to pursue a career within the sector.

“This inspirational event has seen the Council, Northern Regional College and a range of businesses across the sector collaborating together. Mid and East Antrim’s manufacturing and engineering industries are looking ahead to the wide variety of opportunities that the future holds.”

Mark McClure, Operations Director at Caterpillar Northern Ireland, said: “The Manufacturing Taskforce is striving to ensure we think about our young people as they come into adulthood not only for the manufacturing sector, but also for wider society.”

Mr McClure said the Taskforce has been “exemplary” in what it has achieved.

“Companies across the borough are now actively collaborating; recognising their shared need. That was something that historically did not happen.

“From education and business resources to the different private sector companies involved, it is fantastic to see the collaboration amongst the different institutions involved.”

Vincent Taggart, Vice Principal of Teaching and Learning at Northern Regional College, said: “By working with our friends and stakeholders on the Manufacturing Taskforce, ambitious events like this are a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase the collaborative partnerships that exist between the College and local industry. These successful partnerships are key to improving our students’ employability and career prospects.”

David Moore, Managing Director of GES Group, said: “There are plenty of career paths available to our young people. Looking at what opportunities the Fourth Industrial Revolution has to bring, the excitement of that in its own right is outstanding. We need more people to step into that space within the manufacturing and engineering sector.”

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