On the 16th October I was very privileged to be asked to speak on a panel at the Responsible Business Conference held by BICS (Business in the Community). The questions were centred on how young people in Northern Ireland think about their future careers and the responsibility of businesses to look out for the needs of young people.
With businesses becoming so powerful in our society and often having more power and drive to make positive changes than those on the hill it is now imperative that these stakeholders take more responsibility for the development of our community here in Northern Ireland. I was very pleased to find that so many businesses here are taking an active role in helping young people find their feet in a career or indeed in setting up their own business ventures.
One of the young people on the panel with me was Hannah Nelson, a local student who is studying for her A Levels as Methody College just a few doors up from QUB itself. I first heard Hannah speak publically in the summer of 2013 when she made the introductory speech for the visit of Barack and Michelle Obama to an audience of young people at the Waterfront Hall. In a nervous but passionate voice Hannah expounded some of the most progressive ideas about Northern Ireland that I had heard from a person of her age. I was very pleased to find out that she had not lost her passion and devotion to her community and her peers. She talked to businesses about her concern that we are losing our talented young people to better job prospects across the world, she discussed issues of equality and diversity, and when asked what she wanted to achieve with her life she talked about really wanting to make a contribution towards a better Northern Ireland.
Hannah is making an application to Queen’s to study Maths and would like to go on to become a teacher in Belfast. With this talent and enthusiasm coming through to Universities in our wee country then the future is certainly bright.
Panel members making last minute notes before we took the plunge
The panel getting grilled by Susan Hayes – managing director of Hayes Culleton, an International Financial Training Company
Hannah Nelson and I having a good laugh on the panel