More than 70 students from across Northern Ireland gathered in Belfast on Thursday 26 May to mark their graduation from the programme and celebrate becoming Career Ready.
The event, which was generously sponsored by McAuley Engineering and The RFCA NI, took place at the Parliament Buildings and was attended by teachers, parents and employers across the region who joined in the celebrations of students’ successes.
Brian Sykes, Deputy Chief Executive, said: “RFCA NI were delighted to co-sponsor the Career Ready event at Stormont. The achievements the students have gained are impressive; many will go on to further education whilst some are about to enter employment for the first time with career enhancing qualifications.
“Our engagement with the Career Ready programme has been an exciting two years which has seen many interns gain life-enhancing skills. This is very much in line with the objectives of the cadet organisations which we support and which provide young people with strong building blocks for life after their schools years.
“Our future partnership with Career Ready is equally exciting and we are pleased and proud to further the goals of the scheme.”
Career Ready award winners also received their prizes at the ceremony, including the Santander Employability Champion Bill Watson, Coordinator from Northern Regional College, and a number of volunteers and mentors from across Northern Ireland.
Lydia Quinn, a student from North West Regional College, celebrated being both the winner of the Sir Winfried Bischoff Student of the Year Award, and runner up in the AstraZeneca STEM Student of the Year Award for technology.
Lydia said: “Winning these awards is unbelievable! Before I started the programme I was very unambitious and didn’t have a clear career plan in mind for the future. I lacked confidence in my abilities and often said no to opportunities because I didn’t think I was capable of what I wanted to do.
“Without Career Ready I would never have had these opportunities. I would not have experience in, or exposure to, the industry I want to work in. Now I've had so many different opportunities which have helped me achieve my goals.”
David Condell, Operations Director at McAuley Engineering, received the Career Ready Volunteer of the Year Award at the ceremony. He said: “The programme provides an impact as an essential element in the development of the industrial workforce of the future. McAuley Engineering and all other employers require young people joining the workforce to be work ready and understand the essential requirements of employment, such as time keeping, attendance and expected behaviours.
“Through the Career Ready Programme we have facilitated a real life manufacturing learning experience in the lives of the seven young people we have hosted and mentored at McAuley Engineering.”
The evening was hosted by two former Career Ready graduates Courtney Hannah and Anthony Fagan and featured a number of speeches from students who were graduating from the programme this year, as well as the coordinators who have worked tirelessly to support the students during their time on the programme.
Tony Madden, Career Ready Regional Manager for Northern Ireland, said: “Congratulations to every single student who graduated from the programme in Belfast yesterday.
“It was fantastic to see so many inspiring young people at the beginning of their journey to career success. We wish them all every success in the future."