Pupils Get Set for Inaugural Almac Challenge

On their marks for the ‘Almac Challenge’ were (from right) Adam McShane, Lismore Comprehensive; Evie Symington, Portadown College; Ethan Haddock, St Ronans; and Serena Hamilton, Lurgan College. Also in the picture is Darren Nixon, eye4education and Niamh Kinsella, Almac.

Almac has taken a unique approach to student work placements with an all-day assessment and workshop programme facilitated by education consultancy, eye4education.

Almost 70 year 13 and 14 chemistry students from the Craigavon area took part in the inaugural ‘Almac Challenge’ which will select up to 24 pupils for placement positions in the local company for Spring 2016.

Niamh Kinsella, Almac Recruitment Specialist explains; “Like many companies across Northern Ireland, we receive hundreds of requests for work placements throughout the year. We recognise the value of this experience both for the pupils and for industries looking for future employees, but also recognise that it is impossible to facilitate every request.

“In order to make placement mutually beneficial and to ensure that the most suitable pupils are given the opportunity, we have partnered with eye4education to roll out the ‘Almac Challenge’, initially in the Craigavon area. Through this intensive one day programme we hope to identify the pupils who will benefit most from their time at Almac, and in turn will be most rewarding for their mentors in the company.”

Hosted by Portadown College the ‘Almac Challenge’ involved aptitude testing, group assessments with tasks, individual interviews and the creation of mock applications for a Lab Assistant role. The pupils from Lismore Comprehensive, Lurgan College, Portadown College and St. Ronan’s College were guided by ten business advisors from Almac and overseen by three facilitators from eye4education.

Darren Nixon, Founding Partner of eye4education adds; “ We are delighted to partner with such a reputable company as ALMAC in this unique employability event offered to four schools. As we now live in an ever evolving labour market it is important to keep our potential labour pool up to date with current recruitment and selection trends. The protocol of selection via an individual interview is not as robust compared to that of a full assessment day. An assessment style process also really highlights those that are willing and able to fill positions. The four stages of the ALMAC Challenge will be monitored using qualitative and quantitative data and then a final report completed highlighting the top 24 pupils who will then be offered an opportunity for work experience in ALMAC. All placements are to be offered before Christmas with those just missing out going on a standby list.”

Thanks to Jane Wells from JPRNI for this article.