Cookstown District Council were one of the regions’ most visionary and people-focused companies that were honoured last week at the eighth annual Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards in the spectacular surroundings of Titanic Belfast, as they received a Highly Commended award in the Career Inspiration (Large Company) category.
Cookstown District Council worked in partnership with a small team of three year 10 pupils from Cookstown High School to develop a mobile app for Android and iPhone that navigates users through the new mountain bike trails of Davagh Forest.
As the user travels through the forest the user receives audio and map commentary of the features and thrills ahead.
The project allowed the pupils to engage directly in a real software application development role for producing a mobile app and experience first-hand the reality from project initiation to a successful software development sign off.
The pupils engaged with the council and mountain bikers who use the trail to determine the requirements, agree and deliver within a project scope and plan.
Barry O’Hagan, Head of ICT Services at the Council said “That varied exposure, experience and recognition gained from this project and subsequent follow up and has given pupils pride , inspiration and insight into their future career aspirations within an emerging innovative labour market where demand currently outweighs availability.’
The pupils directly liaised with the Councils technical ICT, Social media, tourism, branding GIS and managerial staff to learn and work as a team of solution providers.
Robert Johnston, Head of the Cookstown High School’s ICT Department, was delighted at the recognition for the project and the hard work carried out by the pupils, saying
‘The project allowed the students to grasp a unique entrepreneurial opportunity to experience pitching to a client for funding to assist in getting their own mini business Gtracks off the ground and seeking to acquire hardware and software to produce software beyond this point.’
“We’ve been overwhelmed yet again by the runaway success of the Workplace & Employment Awards,”
Irish News marketing manager John Brolly said. “This high-calibre winners’ list proves that, as our economy begins to pick up again, Northern Ireland possesses the visionary leadership and flexible working environment to thrive and prosper.”
Stormont Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry, who was a top-table guest at last night’s function (and whose department has been a staunch supporter of the Workplace & Employment Awards) since their inception in 2007, told the audience that the initiative reinforces the message that the north has people in its workforce capable of making “a real difference” to the economy.
“If we are to compete in a global economic arena, we must continue to do all we can to drive up skills on all fronts, and facilitating the creation of a workforce equipped with the skills needed by companies within Northern Ireland is the strategic focus,” he said.
“Skills are widely accepted as the key raw material required in any modern knowledge-based economy and are one of the main drivers in how we will achieve our long term economic goals,” he added.
Co Armagh-born Margaret Byrne, whose stellar career trajectory has taken her to one of the leading administrative roles in the Barclays Premier League as chief executive of Sunderland AFC, was keynote after-dinner speaker, taking guests on a journey into the trials and tribulations of the north east club’s boardoom.