Work West Provides Platform For Young People To Develop Career Skills


Over 80 young people, some from Downpatrick, came together in the MAC to learn key skills through innovative workshops aimed at equipping them for the next stage in their careers. The event, Designfest, was organised by Work West Enterprise Agency and funded by RBS Inspiring Enterprise and was an opportunity for young people to learn how to creatively solve actual social problems facing them today.

[caption id="attachment_59682" align="alignleft" width="390"]Pictured at Designfest, organised by Work West Enterprise Agency are Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry MLA and Elaine Megaw, Designfest participant Pictured at Designfest, organised by Work West Enterprise Agency are Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry MLA and Elaine Megaw, Designfest participant. [/caption]

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA attended the event in the MAC, and said: “I commend Work West Enterprise Agency on designing this initiative aimed at providing innovative approaches for young people to learn how to creatively solve real life problems which they could potentially face in their own future careers. It provides the participants with the opportunity to develop new skill-sets which will help them successfully compete in the labour market.”

“During the full day event participants were split up into groups and provided with real life challenges, working as part of a team they were tasked with addressing and providing solutions for challenges that they will inevitably face throughout their own careers.

Claire Ferris, Manager of Workwest said: “It was great to see so many young people getting involved and unlocking their potential. These types of projects, where things are done a bit differently, are a unique opportunity to learn skills not readily available elsewhere. It sets you apart as an outstanding candidate with a creative and innovative mind.”

“We need to think outside the box when providing our young people with the opportunity to develop skills that will fully prepare them for the challenges ahead and these workshops are exactly the way to do it. This event is a great addition to any CV, particularly for those who have aspirations for further education or employment. Employers are looking for people who can work in multidisciplinary teams and can think creatively about solving problems, Designfest teaches this”.

The event was attended by young people from all over Northern Ireland, looking to get a head start in their careers, including those who have aspirations of starting up their own business. It was strongly supported by local businesses who all provided prizes on the day, including Translink, Odyssey Cinema, Movie House, Box nightclub, Hairdresser Mark Nesbitt, Anna K Beauty, local coffee shop Boden, Yellow Door, Ramada Encore, and Mandarin City.

The event is funded by RBS Inspiring Enterprise who has, through their programmes enabled young people to explore enterprise, develop their skills and start up in business, whatever their background. RBS Inspiring Enterprise has offered funding to not-for-profit organisations who work with young people to discover and explore enterprise.

Louise Murphy, who took part in the event said: “This was a great event and was very interactive which was enjoyable. It was a relaxed atmosphere; allowing like-minded people to come together and learn new skills which I think will be invaluable for me going forward”.

Work West was established in 1989 and aims to be a commercially viable organisation which seeks to improve the economic and social profile of areas in Northern Ireland by motivating and enabling enterprising people to establish and expand job creating businesses. It is a market leader in the provision of support for those operating within the social economy and has delivered a range of social economy support programmes to groups and individual social entrepreneurs for the past 20 years

Work West has a social economy village  located on Hannahstown Hill, which offers 65,000sq ft. of purpose built office and industrial units and also has enterprise hubs in Lisburn and Downpatrick

It is supported by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), Peace III extension programme through DETI and Invest NI.