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Border Counties

Futurewize Inspiring Next Generation of STEM Professionals

James Burke Abbott Ireland 1st years Mercy College SligoJames Burke of Abbott Ireland with students from Mercy College Sligo

The Mercy College students were the first students in Sligo to take part in the new, classroom-based programme called Futurewize, aimed at inspiring young Junior Cycle students to explore a new world of career possibilities that are opened up through the study of STEM related subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). 

Jointly-sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partner Fidelity Investments, Futurewize is designed by Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) and delivery by business volunteers Mary McLoughlin and James Burke from Abbott Ireland. The programme was officially launched in October 2016 by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. who lent his support to the innovative programme. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. said: “I am happy to support Junior Achievement Ireland in their 20th anniversary year, to help launch Futurewize. This programme aligns with the new Junior Cycle science course and its content strands: the physical, biological, and chemical worlds; and Earth and Space and the Government’s renewed policy focus on providing supports in this area. Futurewize will shine a light on the career options open to students in STEM and is a great example of an industry education initiative supporting Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025."

Colette O’Hagan, Principal, The Mercy College “We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to take part in such a worthwhile programme.  Our Abbott volunteers, Mary & James were true  professionals and had a great rapport with the first year students. The students have learnt so much about STEM from them. To hear our girls’ talking about building rockets, learning about HTML code and forensic science is just fantastic. Congratulation to all involved for creating this programme.

In 2016/17, more than 2,000 students will complete Futurewize with 80 trained business volunteers from Fidelity Investments and other volunteer companies. Working with the 13-15 year olds in their own classrooms once a week for five weeks, Futurewize volunteers serve to highlight the importance and relevance of STEM subjects and their links to a huge range of potential career pathways.  

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Breifne College, Cavan Focused on the Future

Transition year Students from Breifne College With Business volunteer Daryl StinsonTransition year Students from Breifne College with Business volunteer Daryl Stinson

Transition year students from Breifne College, Cavan, took part in the MetLife sposored  Finance Your Future programme. Taught by business volunteer Daryl Stinson, from The National Treasury Management Agency, the students covered real-to-life topics like balancing your own personal budget, learning about credit cards, interest rates, as well as how the markets work in the form of stocks and shares.

James Sherry, Transition Year Coordinator at Breifne College, commented that “the students really enjoyed the programme and gained valuable knowledge with regard to their financial futures. Thanks to Daryl for all of his work with the group.”

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Louth Leader Partnership Inspires Students to Reach their Potential

Tour PhotoAnnmarie McHugh, lecturer in Business at Dundalk Institute of Technology, guides students from St. Mary’s College, Dundalk on a campus tour

100 students from five second level schools in Co. Louth completed the ‘My Future-My Business’ programme sponsored by The Louth Leader Partnership. The participating schools were St. Oliver’s Community School, St. Louis Secondary School, St. Mary’s College (Marist), O’ Fiaich College and Ardee Community School.

‘My Future-My Business’ began earlier this term with a local business volunteer working with the students to complete a programme in their classrooms exploring the links between education and their post-school futures. Students then visited a company in Co. Louth to learn about the various employment opportunities available to them in their local area. In-classroom volunteers and workplace visits were made possible because of the support of local partners including Prometric, Horseware and National Pen.

To complete the programme, Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) hosted the students for a career planning day, to explore employment opportunities, based on their own interests, and to examine ways to access these opportunities, through their education and the development of a variety of soft skills. The on-campus workshops, facilitated by volunteers from State Street, fully complement the senior cycle curriculum at their schools. Students were presented with certificates of achievement to recognise their contribution to their own future success in completing the programme.

Jacqui Ward, Education & Youth Officer, Louth Leader Partnership opened the event at DkIT and told the students about her own education and career path, highlighting that there are a variety of different paths to reach our educational goals.During her address to the students, Jacqui said: “Make the most of this opportunity that you have been given here today. Explore all your options, keep an open mind, but most importantly ask questions. I have no doubt that many of you will be inspired by today's event and have the confidence to continue your educational journey.

Eileen Lynch, Access Officer at DkIT, warmly welcomed the second level students on behalf of DkIT and outlined the courses available at DkIT and also advised them of the supports that the Access Office makes available to students throughout their third level education. Eileen commented that: “All of the students participating in ‘My Future-My Business’ have the potential to advance to third level. Today in DkIT, they will meet past pupils from their schools who are now students and staff here in DkIT. This is their first step along a very exciting road and we are all here to help and support them to reach their goal. Their future is in their hands.

On behalf of Junior Achievement Ireland, CEO Helen Raftery said: “We wish to sincerely thank the Louth Leader Partnership for supporting this initiative. From our perspective it's a wonderful example of public and private sector engagement to enable a unique combination of learning opportunities for students throughout Co. Louth. We know that linking their studies to the 'real world' by meeting role models from business and bringing them on the workplace and third level site visits helps to reinforces key messages for students around the value of education and encourages them to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.

Prometric visit Nov 30th Ardee Community SchoolStudents from Ardee Community School during a visit to the Prometric office in Dundalk



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Donegal County Council Recognition Event

DCC End of Year

Seven volunteers from Donegal County Council  inspired and motivated 173 students in three schools in Co. Donegal. At the recent recognition event  An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey present them with the certificates of achievement.

Speaking at the award ceremony Cllr Slowey thanked the staff from the Council who volunteered in this year’s programme.

“I am delighted to be in a position to thank the Council staff for volunteering their time and effort for this very worthwhile programme. The fact that the Council has been involved in this programme since 2003 speaks for itself. From listening to the staff and indeed to the programme co-ordinator Patricia Friel I can see how this programme creates a great sense of excitement and fun for the children participating. It builds the children’s confidence in having their say and helps them to shape how they think things should be done”.

Mary Elliott is one of the Donegal County Council staff members who volunteer on this programme. Mary believes that while every student gets the chance to be involved in different ways it is also a great learning experience for the volunteers. “Students are so positive and have a clear understanding of various aspects of the business world and very often they teach us, as programme deliverers, to have a more socially inclusive approach to their world also!”

 “By working with organisations like Donegal County Council we are able to connect local students with local volunteers who in turn share their insights and expertise, linking the classroom and the ‘real world’ to enhance their learning experience. I am very grateful to Donegal County Council for their ongoing support.” Patricia Friel Junior Achievement Co-ordinator in Donegal.

The Council staff who received certificates of recognition on the day  included Bobby Smith, Martin Roarty, Fiona Wasson, Caroline Mc Cleary, Caitlin Uí Chochláin and Mary Elliott.

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Scoil Caiseal Learn All About Marine Harvest

Marine Harvest Scoil Mhuire5th & 6th class from Scoil Mhuire Caiseal, Fanad Co. Donegal recently visited Marine Harvest in Rinmore and were  given a full tour of the processing plant and laboratory. The students learned about the processing of the fish as well as how its packed and transported to numerous different countries all over the world

Thank to our Marine Harvest volunteers on the day Julie Coyle, Bernie McElwaine, Kathleen McGrory, Fenal Shiels, Carol Carr, Gerard Drury, Bernie McFadden and Nigel Teape for conducting tours and making the classes feel so welcome. Gráinne Uí Dhubhthaigh, Principal of Scoil Mhuire, said: "Go raibh mile maith agaibh uilig ag Marine Harvest for such an interesting visit. Great for our students to see such a large scale operation which is right on their door step."

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