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Connecting Schools and Employers: Council to Pilot Work Experience Programme

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has partnered with early talent experts, Workplus, to offer a work experience project for pupils in post-primary schools in the Borough.

The pilot project is the first of its kind to be coordinated by a Council in Northern Ireland and will offer pupils the opportunity to apply for work experience with employers across a wide variety of sectors.

Launching the project, which is set to run in March 2024, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Mark Cooper said,

“As a Council, we are passionate about better connecting schools with local employers. The pilot project is mutually beneficial, allowing our pupils insight into the many exciting and thriving organisations that exist across the Borough.  The advantage for the employers involved, is that it will connect them with wonderful future talent.”

The Mayor added,

“The number of opportunities for the pupils will depend on organisations of all sizes across the Borough embracing this pilot project and offering three-day placement opportunities. We are encouraging all companies to take part in the project as it is a fantastic way of forging deeper connections with schools and showcasing their organisation to young people and families.”

Lucy Marshall, Community Manager of Workplus, which is partnering with the Council to enable the project, said,

“We are pleased to be working with the Council on this pilot project and believe it will serve to better connect businesses and schools, as well as help develop those all-important transversal skills in our young people.”

She added, “We work throughout the year with employers to help them find early talent. We also work with schools to promote the many fantastic opportunities and pathways available to school leavers. In this tight employment environment, more employers are moving further upstream to find talent so work experience is becoming increasingly important.”

Workplus will support employers to build their confidence in creating a work experience programme and will give them the opportunity to showcase their organisation.  Workplus is partnering with careers platform, Morrisby, and Changing Education’s work experience platform, Connect, to help pupils explore their career preferences and see the work experience opportunities available to them.

The project has been welcomed by both schools and employers in the Borough.

Leeann Saunders, Managing Director NI, Qualcom, said,

“This is an exciting initiative for both employers and schools. There is a real appetite from employers to help young people grow their awareness of fantastic career options. This work experience project is a great way of giving young people exposure to companies, both large and small, which are doing exciting and innovative work. I think it could be a real eye-opener for our young people, as well as enriching for employers.”

Olive Coulter, Vice-Principal and Careers Lead at St Benedict’s College, Randalstown, said

“This pilot is a welcome initiative and one which will hopefully allow pupils greater insight into the many career pathways available to them. We are looking forward to being part of this project and connecting with employers through this coordinated approach.”

A breakfast event for businesses to hear more about the project will take place on 13 December – to register for the event visit https://antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/events/2023/december/work-experience-2024/

The Work Experience project is also supported by the James Kane Foundation.

For further information on how businesses can take part, visit workex.softr.app