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The Big Celebration ’16

Young entrepreneurs sharpen skills as they explore their future in work

In a word? Celebration! Over 500 young entrepreneurs descended on Titanic Belfast for The Big Celebration ’16. The event is organised to mark the achievements of 4,000 budding entrepreneurs who worked with Young Enterprise this year. Congratulations to all winners on the day, particularly the regional winners, who will go on to compete against each other, with the overall Northern Ireland winners announced at the Young Enterprise Awards in May.

Throughout the morning students explored workshops designed around this year’s theme; Your Future in Work. The hands-on workshops focused on sharpening the skills that the young people have developed through the Young Enterprise programme, in order to best prepare them for the world of further education or work.

The Company and Team Programme graduates got the opportunity to chat to prospective employers and other exhibitors throughout the event. They attended a workshop to ‘Pimp their Profile’, delivered by LinkedIn alongside Young Enterprise sister company Junior Achievement Ireland. This provided an insight to the world of LinkedIn and highlighted the importance of digital networking in creating opportunities as young people start their career. Other workshops focused on interview tips, building skills, with young people showcasing what they have learned over the past eight months at The Big Enterprise Quiz.

Peter Cosgrove, Director of CPL Recruitment, led a workshop focusing on how future jobs are changing rapidly and the key skills needed to adapt successfully. He commented: “The future for the next generation of jobseekers will be very different. The pace of technological change, more people freelancing than working full time, new types of jobs emerging and work being something you can do from anywhere. All this will provide opportunities and threats to the future of work.”

During the fourth workshop a panel of four entrepreneurs were quizzed by host Marc Mallett. Sara McCloskey, Matthew Gibson, Michelle Hagan and Dermot Devlin, who are all Young Enterprise Alumni, shared their personal experiences of starting their own business and offered hints and tips to the audience of young entrepreneurs.

The Big Celebration concluded with an awards ceremony, hosted by UTV’s Marc Mallett. Singer songwriter Emma Horan provided entertainment before the winning companies from each region were announced. The regional Company Programme winners will go on to the Northern Ireland Final in May, at Belfast City Hall, where the overall Northern Ireland winner will be announced.

Young Enterprise organise the annual event as a way of congratulating the students who have taken part in the Company and Team Programmes. The purpose of the format this year is to provide an engaging and educational experience, while ensuring that our future business leaders have relevant skills and are prepared for the first steps on their career path.

Young Enterprise Chief Executive Carol Fitzsimons said:  “We set these young people a challenge back in September to start up a business, and since then we’ve seen some extraordinary ideas and innovative companies.  At The Big Celebration 16 we named the top businesses and individuals who have particularly excelled throughout their time working with us. These young people exemplify the entrepreneurial potential that we have here and show why Northern Ireland has been named a European Entrepreneurial Region for 2015/16.”

Education Minister John O’Dowd commented: “I am delighted to be here today to celebrate the achievements of everyone involved with the Company and Team Programmes. I have had the pleasure of attending a number of Young Enterprise Trade Fairs and am always impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the students selling their products.

Employers now look for more than simply good exam results, they want school-leavers with the skills required to perform well in the workplace – these programmes help our young people develop such skills.  We, in education and in business, have a responsibility to help shape the career paths of our young people and give them every opportunity to succeed in the future.”

For photos of the event visit our Facebook page here.


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