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Successful Pilot Work Experience Project which secured almost 70 work placement opportunities

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council marked the conclusion of their 2024 Work Experience pilot project with a celebration event at Mossley Mill.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Mark Cooper BEM, hosted the event which was attended by students, teachers, local employers and other stakeholders to highlight the success of the pilot project.

The pilot Work Experience 2024 programme, led by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council alongside Workplus Ltd and supported by the James Kane Foundation, is Northern Ireland’s pioneering work experience initiative. Working with employers, teachers, students and parents this innovative, first of its kind programme, delivered meaningful, structured work experience opportunities for students based on their actual career aspirations. This dynamic programme supported students in five post-primary schools from the council area including three SEN schools to make informed education and career choices, demonstrated the breadth of opportunities available within the Borough and beyond.

Speaking at the event, Mayor Councillor Mark Cooper BEM congratulated all involved in making the project successful: “It is such a pleasure to see the success of this deeply inclusive project. We’re grateful to all the businesses who took part in this work experience pilot and, of course, to the pupils, teachers and schools for embracing the work experience opportunities with such interest and enthusiasm. The Council embarked on this exciting project to better connect schools and employers. We work extensively with both groups and know the importance of letting young people see the wonderful opportunities available to them with thriving companies in the local area.”

A total of 90 Work experience opportunities were created across the sectors including engineering, banking, business, retail, media production and hospitality. Almost 70 placements were taken up including 30 from students in Special Educational Needs Schools.

Richard Kirk, CEO of Workplus, said, “It’s been a pleasure to work with the Council on this project.  We wanted to make it easier for schools and employers to connect in a very meaningful way though work experience. In this tight labour market, work experience is becoming an increasingly important initiative to link employers with early talent. It has been great to see how much the project has benefitted individuals and organisations.”

Courtney McKay, Head of Careers at Jordanstown School, said, “This work experience project has been very positive for our students. Pupils with sensory loss can often face many barriers so it has been amazing to have been part of this project, giving our students insights into retail and hospitality.”

Gordon Cross of Revolution Productions, which Specialists in Virtual & Hybrid Events and Live Streaming, said, “The events industry lost a lot of people during the Covid pandemic. This work experience project allows us to let young people see this industry up close and it will hopefully ignite interest and bring new talent into this exciting sector.”

Aliyah, who is pupil from Integrated College Glengormley, said, “I really enjoyed my work experience at Revolution Productions. I’m doing media in school, so my placement has complemented what I’ve learnt in the classroom. I learnt a lot during my placement about the things I was already interested in. It’s really broad and a fantastic opportunity!”

The work experience placements took place in March 2024. An overview video of the project can be viewed at antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/workpluscelebrationevent