STUDENTS from Newtownabbey Community High and Monkstown Community School have celebrated landing jobs - despite still being in full-time education.
The students recently took part in an Apprentice-style competition with car dealer Charles Hurst.
The competition, which was organised in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC), saw teams of students pitching their ideas to Charles Hurst’s operations director and competition judge Colin McNab.
As part of the exercise, each team was awarded £500 to enhance the value of their chosen used car to try and make a profit when, or if, the vehicle was sold at auction.
Each team that took part in the challenge was provided with a designated mentor from Charles Hurst who both assisted and advised them in their task, while acting as the eyes and ears for the judging panel and reporting back to Colin McNab on their individual and team performances.
And the team which made the most profit was the one from Monkstown Community School.
However, in a big departure from the format used by the popular reality TV programme where only one apprentice is ‘hired’, judge Colin McNab was so impressed with the talent on show that he decided to take on some of the students who took part in the challenge.
Sonia Irvine from Newtownabbey Community High School and Aaron Rea from Monkstown Community School will both work with the car dealership across a number of its key divisions during their summer holidays and get paid for their efforts.
Colin McNab said: “We’re always up for a challenge at Charles Hurst and through this important community initiative, we had the great pleasure to work with a remarkable group of individuals who went to great lengths to show off their individual skills and tenacity while working as part of a team.
“As Northern Ireland’s largest car retailer, we know that our most important asset is our staff and we’re really excited to see that the next generation of school-leavers are prepped and ready to go.
“Everyone who took part deserves great credit for putting so much into the process. We’re delighted with the result and we look forward to welcoming our four new apprentices on board.”
Business in the Community Chief Executive John Heaslip added: “This competition has been a tremendous success and we’re thrilled that the students who took part were recognised for the role they played.
“A paid apprenticeship at Charles Hurst is a real reward for their efforts and will provide these individuals with yet another great opportunity to extend their skills and experience and add to their eagerness to succeed.
“Business in the Community is thrilled to have been directly involved in this worthwhile initiative and we would encourage other companies to think about creative ways to engage and support the future workforce and inspire young people about the career options open to them.”