Final Year students from across Northern Ireland have attended an innovative three-day Academy hosted by Northern Bank, providing them with valuable skills to make a confident transition from third level education into employment.
Against a backdrop of rising unemployment - with recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) placing UK youth unemployment at a record high of 1,016,000 in the third quarter of 2011 - Northern Bank’s Freedom Experience Academy provided 20 final year students from across Northern Ireland with straightforward skills to adequately prepare them for the world of work.
Addressing the skills gap of students leaving third level education, Northern Bank’s Freedom Experience Academy aimed to give Northern Ireland’s future leaders the opportunity to learn from the leaders of today. The final year students, who will complete their undergraduate studies in a range of disciplines in 2012, attended sessions and workshops guided by a range of Northern Ireland’s leading business people.
Jim Eastwood, finalist on BBC show, The Apprentice, and now Head of Groupon (Ireland); Kate Marshall, MaST Ireland; UNISON Northern Ireland secretary, Inez McCormack; entrepreneur Cameron Stewart; Botanic Inns managing director, Stephen Magorrian; Cahoots NI artistic director, Paul McEneaney, Light and Sound FX and Ground Coffee managing director, Darren Gardiner; Luke Wolsey, managing director of Little Wing Pizza and Martin Hamilton, managing director, Mash Direct were just a selection of the speakers to address the students during the three day Academy.
From social skills and suggestions on how to enhance their C.V. to valuable insights into successful interview techniques and an evaluation of their own strengths and weaknesses – the Freedom Experience Academy offered a unique opportunity for final year students to hone their job search skills in advance of graduation and to make their first steps up their chosen career ladders.
Commenting at the end of the first Northern Bank Freedom Experience Academy, Vanessa Postle, Community Affairs Manager, Northern Bank said:
“We were extremely impressed with the enthusiasm and willingness to learn demonstrated by each of the 20 students throughout the three days of the Freedom Experience Academy. They listened with great interest to the programme of speakers, probing them for further information, tips and advice to ensure they got the most out of the experience.
“The feedback from the students has been exceptionally positive, with the majority commenting that the Academy and the opportunity to network with and learn from leading Northern Ireland business people has instilled them with a newfound confidence as they prepare to enter the job market.
“Northern Bank is proud that the Freedom Experience Academy has helped to provide final year students - the leaders of tomorrow - with real, tangible skills that will be easily transferable upon graduation, greatly improving their employment prospects.
Larne student Julie Niblock, who’s in her final year of a Business Management degree at Queen’s University, Belfast, added:
“The Freedom Experience Academy was one of the most informative and inspirational business events I’ve ever attended. Going forward, the experience has provided me with a foundation of confidence that I can go back into my studies with a clear vision of what I want to achieve and a new skills set and contacts to help me understand how I am going to achieve these things.”