Criminal Justice Careers Fair a great success
Updated: Feb 20
More than 200 people attended the Criminal Justice Careers Fair held in the Ballymena Showgrounds, organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland as part of the Drew Nelson Legacy Project.
This event forms part of a wider careers and employment strategy which includes careers fairs in conjunction with local schools, employability courses for young people and thematic careers fairs.
Youth Development Officer Gary McAllister worked with officers from the PSNI in organising the event, which brought together representatives of the PSNI, Youth Justice Agency, Public Prosecution Service, Attorney General’s Office and Forensic Science NI.
Officers from Roads Policing attended the event.
This was the first event of its kind and the Co Antrim venue was chosen following significant loss of employment in the area in recent years.
The event, which coincided with the launch of the latest recruitment campaign organised by the PSNI, was a great success and Mr McAllister was encouraged by the response.
Mr McAllister said: “This event provided members of the community, young and old, with the chance to explore what potential career opportunities are available to them across the Criminal Justice Sector.
“Our Institution is a vital stakeholder in addressing the issues facing our community. Issues such as the under-representation of working-class Protestants throughout the justice sector and the brain drain of students moving abroad for university and not returning. Events such as this give those very students the chance to see that there are fantastic and appealing opportunities for them here in their own communities rather than having to move abroad to access them.
“The event was a huge success and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the PSNI, the various agencies who attended and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
“I’d also like to express my personal thanks to TUV Cllr. Matthew Armstrong for his help in securing the venue from MEABC and promoting the event, his input and support was invaluable.
“I would also like to thank the PSNI and in particular, Superintendent Brenda Cairns for her efforts in securing the support of the various other agencies who attended the event.”
He added: “Ultimately, this is an excellent example of agencies, stakeholders and the community working together for the good of our young people and I would hope that in future this success can be built upon and replicated.”
A full house for the Criminal Justice Careers Fair
Cllr. Armstrong was very pleased with the event, highlighting the efforts made by all involved to engage with those who attended.
“The Careers Fair was an excellent exercise in helping our young people forge their way in the world,” he said.
“The many exhibitors ranging from the PSNI, Attorney General and forensic science were all more than happy to provide encouragement and advice on possible career paths which was well received by all in attendance.
“It was also a vital demonstration that the Orange Institution has a real and practical presence all year round and that our culture positively permeates all aspects of modern society.
“Thanks must go to the agencies who contributed so positively including MEA Council for providing the venue. The credit ultimately, however, is with Grand Lodge, and in particular the YDO Gary McAllister who co-ordinated the event so professionally and I hope to see many more such initiatives rolled out across our province in the near future.”
North Antrim MLA's Jim Allister and Robin Swann along with MEABC Cllr. Matthew Armstrong, Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, Youth Development Officer Gary McAllister and Ballymena LOL No. 8 District Master Gordon McCrory
Caroline Johnston, a Forensic Science student in Liverpool, who attended the event said:
“As a student, the Criminal Justice Careers Fair was extremely beneficial for me. I got to talk to professionals from Forensic Science NI and the PSNI on roles within my areas of interest.
“I was able to gain a better understanding of what qualifications are required for the various roles and when to apply for them which was particularly helpful for me as I was under the impression that there were no jobs in Northern Ireland within the sector and that I would have to stay in England to build my career.
“This event opened my eyes to the opportunities available within Northern Ireland and I am extremely grateful for that.”