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18 Month JA Programme Inspires Students to be Career Ready

AM8I4765Students from Our Lady of Mercy College Beaumont celebrate their Career Ready graduation with Jason Sherlock, JAI CEO Helen Raftery; Sinead Henshaw of Citi and JAI Patron Leslie Buckley

Students from three Dublin schools have graduated from the Junior Achievement Ireland Career Ready programme, kindly hosted by Citi, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1. To mark the completion of their two year programme the students were joined by the business volunteers who had worked as their mentors, representatives of supporting organisations and special guests former Dublin GAA star and life coach Jason Sherlock and JAI Patron Leslie Buckley.

Career Ready develops students’ potential by enabling their involvement in a range of activities including being paired with a business mentor for 18 months, visiting workplaces, attending masterclasses and completing work placements. The overall aims of the JAI Career Ready initiative are to help students to recognise their potential, to develop and increase their employability skills, support their academic work and introduce them to the world of work. The 2015-2017 cohort comprises twenty nine students from St. Paul’s CBS, North Brunswick St; Loreto College, Crumlin and Our Lady of Mercy, Beaumont.

AM8I4908Jason Sherlock addresses the audience at the Career Ready graduationSpecial guest Jason Sherlock congratulated the students on taking their first steps in the world of work and reinforced the importance of role models and pushing oneself to achieve your goals: “The guidance and encouragement of mentors and role models really can make a profound difference in a young person’s life; I know this from my own personal experience. To the participating students I say take the skills and confidence you have gained from Career Ready and build on them, allow the programme to be the catalyst for you to fulfil your potential. With the right attitude you can do anything you set your mind to.

The importance of role models in helping us learn and develop is fundamental. When caring adults are involved in education, students do better in school and life, adults become empowered, and schools and communities grow stronger.

The Career Ready 2015-17 mentors, as well as masterclasses and school to work visits, were provided by A & L Goodbody, Accenture, Amundi, BNY Mellon, Citi, Core Media, Dell, Deloitte, Diageo, EisnerAmper Ireland, Gaiety School of Acting, LinkedIn, JLL, Lloyds Bank, Manpower, Pfizer, SQS, Standard Life, and TV3.

AM8I4782Mary Kelleher speaks from an educationalist's perspectiveMary Kelleher, Transition Year Coordinator in Loreto College Crumlin, said that: “Volunteer mentors from ‘the real world’ really do have a significant impact in helping students see the relevance of their studies and their post-school choices. Volunteers share their career journey and give students an insight into their working life which is vital not only in opening the students’ eyes to the possibilities that are out there but also underlines the need to be driven and focused.”

On behalf of Junior Achievement Ireland, CEO Helen Raftery said: “Research shows us that working with ‘real-world’ volunteers helps young people to see the relevance of their academic studies to their everyday lives, which is a vital factor in persuading them to stay in school and take full advantage of the opportunity that education offers. Thank you to Citi for hosting this celebration and to all our corporate partners for their support of the Career Ready initiative.” Career Ready collage

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Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs in the Gaeltacht

Junior Achievement Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta to run a nationwide enterprise programme as Gaeilge

More than 750 Transition Year students from Gaeltacht regions in Cork, Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Meath & Waterford will participate in the Údarás na Gaeltachta – Clár na gComhlachtaí this year.

ClarSamí Ó’Fearraigh & Caitlín James from Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair with Minister Joe McHugh TDJoe McHugh TD, Minister of State at the Department of Culture with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands, launched the 2017/18 programme in Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair this week and students from the school were on hand to showcase some of the innovative ideas that they have for their fledgling businesses!

Clár na gComhlachtaí is a hands-on business learning experience developed and delivered in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) and is taught through the Irish language to students attending schools in Gaeltacht regions. Based on the well-established JA Company Programme and Company of the Year Competition, students create, operate and manage their own business. The programme provides numerous opportunities for the development and reinforcement of important academic and leadership skills.

Minister McHugh commented, “I would like to congratulate Údarás na Gaeltachta and Junior Achievement Ireland for promoting a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in the Gaeltacht areas. The entrepreneurial skills and practical business experience developed through Clár na gComhlachtaí will stand these young people in good stead and ultimately benefit the economy of the Gaeltacht.

Local business volunteers, each of whom is recruited, trained and supported by JAI, mentor the students alongside their teachers as they move from the idea generation stage, to production, marketing, sales, finance right through to going to market.

In February 2018, students will be challenged to report on the progress they have made at Regional Finals. These events in each region will allow the emerging entrepreneurs to display their finished products at trade stands, and be interviewed by a judging panel before pitching their business ideas on stage to a public audience. The regional finals are an ideal opportunity for the students to showcase the knowledge gained and the skills acquired in the course of the programme.

Last year’s winners were Cothú Cinnte, a company from Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, An Spidéal, Co. Galway. Cothú Cinnte produced hand-painted, glazed dinner plates, that were labelled “as Gaeilge” to encourage young people to include more vegetables in their diet and to promote healthy eating.

Udaras 3Samí Ó’Fearraigh from Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair discussing his business idea with Minister Joe McHugh TDBased on research on entrepreneurship education, students participating in Údarás Clár na gComhlachtaí are more likely to start their own business, are at lower risk of being unemployed, and are more often in steady employment into adulthood. These projected outcomes are based on the success schemes around Europe, which incorporate the JA Company Programme, on which the design of Clár na gComhlachtaí is based.

Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, CEO of Údarás na Gaeltachta, commented that “Údarás na Gaeltachta is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in Gaeltacht areas and we would like to thank Junior Achievement Ireland for their commitment to this programme. We are confident that the skills and practical business experience Gaeltacht students will gain through their participation in Clár na gComhlachtaí is a significant building block which will lead to future Gaeltacht enterprises.

On behalf of JAI, Chief Executive Helen Raftery said: “The support from Údarás na Gaeltachta to run Clár na gComhlachtaí in schools across the Gaeltacht allows students to enjoy real-to-life learning opportunities they might not otherwise have benefited from. With the encouragement of their teachers and their business mentors, the students will gain confidence in many transversal skills such as team-working, negotiation and public speaking – skills which will be invaluable as they progress into the world of work.”

I mbliana glacfaidh os cionn 750 dalta idirbhliana ó Ghaeltachtaí Chorcaí, na Gaillimhe, Dhún na nGall, Chiarraí, Mhaigh Eo, na Mí agus Phort Láirge páirt i gClár na gComhlachtaí - Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Ba é an tAire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hOileáin sa Roinn Cultúir Joe McHugh TD a sheol clár 2017/2018 i bPobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair an tseachtain seo agus bhí daltaí ón scoil i láthair chun cuid de na smaointe nuálacha atá acu dá bhfiontair nuabhunaithe a chur ar taispeáint.

Is taithí phraiticiúil ghnó atá i gClár na gComhlachtaí atá á fhorbairt agus á sheachadadh i gcomhar le Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) agus atá á mhúineadh trí mheán na Gaeilge do dhaltaí i gceantair Ghaeltachta.  Bunaithe ar na comórtais sheanbhunaithe JA Company Programme agus Comhlacht na Bliana, cruthaíonn, ritheann agus bainistíonn daltaí a ngnó féin.  Cuireann an clár neart deiseanna ar fáil maidir le forbairt agus neartaíonn sé an tábhacht a bhaineann le scileanna acadúla agus ceannaireachta. 

Dúirt an tAire McHugh, “Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus Junior Achievement Ireland as cultúr na fiontraíochta i measc óige na Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn. Seasfaidh na scileanna fiontraíochta agus an taithí phraiticiúil gnó a fhorbraítear trí Chlár na gComhlachtaí leis na daoine óga seo agus rachaidh sé chun leasa gheilleagar na Gaeltachta ar deireadh.

Cuireann lucht gnó áitiúil, atá earcaithe agus traenáilte ag an JAI agus a fhaigheann tacaíocht uathu, meantóireacht dheonach ar fáil do na daltaí chomh maith leis na múinteoirí agus tugtar treoir do na daltaí ón mbunsmaoineamh go dtí an táirgeadh, an mhargaíocht, an díolachán agus cúrsaí airgeadais, chomh fada le dul chun margaidh.

Ag na Comórtais Réigiúnacha i mí Feabhra 2018, tabharfar dúshlán do na daltaí tuairisciú a dhéanamh ar an dul chun cinn atá déanta acu. Tugann na hócáidí réigiúnacha seo deis do na fiontraithe óga seo a dtáirgí críochnaithe a chur i láthair ag seastáin ghnó, dul faoi agallamh le painéal moltóirí agus a smaoineamh gnó a dhíol os comhair lucht féachana. Is deis iontach é seo do na daltaí an t-eolas agus na scileanna atá foghlamtha acu a thaispeáint.

Ba iad Cothú Cinnte, comhlacht as Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, An Spidéal, Co. na Gaillimhe buaiteoirí na bliana seo caite.  Cruthaigh Cothú Cinnte plátaí dinnéir péinteáilte de láimh le lipéid Ghaeilge chun bia sláintiúil a chur chun cinn agus daoine óga a mhealladh chun tuilleadh glasraí a ithe.

Bunaithe ar thaighde ar oideachas fiontraíochta, is mó seans atá daltaí a ghlacann páirt i gClár na gComhlachtaí – Údarás na Gaeltachta a ngnó féin a bhunú, bíonn riosca níos ísle go mbeidh siad dífhostaithe, agus níos minice bíonn fostaíocht seasta acu agus iad ag dul in aois. Tá na torthaí réamh-mheasta seo bunaithe ar rath na scéimeanna ar fud na hEorpa, a bhfuil JA Company Programme mar chuid de, agus ar a bhfuil Clár na gComhlachtaí bunaithe.

Dúirt Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, Príomhfheidhmeannach Údarás na Gaeltachta “Tá Údarás na Gaeltachta tiomanta an fhiontraíocht a chur chun cinn i gceantair Ghaeltachta agus ba mhaith linn buíochas a ghlacadh le Junior Achievement Ireland as a ndúthracht don chlár.  Tá muid dóchasach go mbeidh na scileanna agus taithí phraiticiúil gnó a bhainfidh na daltaí Gaeltachta amach i rannpháirtíocht Chlár na gComhlachtaí ina gcrann taca maidir le fiontair Ghaeltachta amach anseo.”

Thar ceann an JAI dúirt an Príomhfheidhmeannach Helen Raftery, “Cuireann an tacaíocht a fhaighimid ó Údarás na Gaeltachta chun Clár na gComhlachtaí a reáchtáil i scoileanna ar fud na Gaeltachta deis iontach ar fáil do dhaltaí maidir le cúrsaí foghlama saoil rud nach mbeadh siad in ann leas a bhaint as de ghnáth. Le spreagadh ó na múinteoirí agus a meantóirí gnó, spreagfar muinín sna daltaí i mórán scileanna inaistrithe, idir obair foirne, scileanna idirbheartaíochta agus óráidíocht phoiblí – scileanna a bheidh an-tairbheach agus iad ag dul chun cinn i saol na hoibre.”

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Citi Foundation and Junior Achievement to Increase Youth Entrepreneurship in Ireland and Europe

EIA 2Evelyn Burns of JAI with Citi volunteers Aidan Geraghty, Eamonn Dowling and Shane Connolly after their Enterprise in Action training sessionThe first Citi volunteers for the 2017/18 school year have been trained in the Enterprise in Action programme, sponsored by Citi Foundation, which is designed to promote the relevance of entrepreneurial thinking and provides a structured 5-week programme to allow students to practice innovative thinking and challenges them to understand ethical decision-making.

This year 80 business volunteers from a range of supporting organisations, including Citi, are volunteering to work with more than 2,000 15-17 year olds in their own classrooms to complete Enterprise in Action. Over the course of five weeks, Enterprise in Action volunteers will serve to highlight the role of business in Ireland and introduce young people to entrepreneurship in a practical way that equips them with life skills which can be carried into adulthood.

The Citi Foundation and Junior Achievement (JA) are working together in 19 European countries to equip secondary school students with entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills. Together the Citi Foundation and JA aim to impact more than 51,950 young people around Europe with the support of 230 Citi volunteers in the 2017-2018 school year.

Youth unemployment has become a major drive for Europe. Teaching young people to think as entrepreneurs and developing their entrepreneurial mind-sets is definitely a way to boost growth and create jobs. By bringing the business and education worlds together to support these programmes, JA and the Citi Foundation are actively working to tackle the existent problem of skills gap in Europe, empowering young people with the skills they need to enter the workplace.

Speaking at the launch of the Enterprise in Action programme, Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, stated that, “Initiatives such as Enterprise in Action are essential for fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and skills, which will ensure Ireland continues to be one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. Entrepreneurship is a key element in the health and wellbeing of any thriving economy. We must ensure that we support young people to acquire the skills and confidence they need so that face any challenge, and shape their careers in the future world of work. I commend Junior Achievement and Citi for such a wonderful initiative.”

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improved the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. They invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyse job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches ti building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfil their mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.


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STEM Students get Futurewize

Futurewize Brand Ambassador Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin with Fidelity Investments volunteers Padraig Duffy and Katie NearyFuturewize Brand Ambassador Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin with Fidelity Investments volunteers Padraig Duffy and Katie Neary

In its first year, 1,900 students completed Futurewize, a programme developed by JAI with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and Fidelity Investments. The programme inspires Junior Cycle students to explore a new world of career possibilities that are opened up through the study of STEM and related subjects. Futurewize targets students during this crucial period with the aim of maintaining their interest in STEM with creative programme content delivered by relevant role models from industry. 

Encouraging girls to explore the value of study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is a key focus of Futurewize so to that end, 65% of places available were filled by girls in 2016/17. Recent Irish research carried out analysing female attitudes towards STEM in Ireland points to girls being able to visualise themselves having a career in STEM at age 11, however they no longer see this as a possibility at 15 years. 

Deirdre O Riordan Loreto College Crumlin 2016Students from Loreto College Crumlin after their Futurewize programmeFollowing its launch in October 2016 by Richard Bruton T.D., Minister for Education and Skills and Programme Ambassador Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Assistant Professor in the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics, 91 industry volunteers were recruited, vetted, equipped and trained to deliver Futurewize in 46 second level schools around the country. Volunteers from a huge range of roles and backgrounds were released by both Fidelity investments and a host of supporting organisations in STEM industries.

Working with the 12-14 year olds in their own classrooms while completing the five modules, these volunteers acted as role models from the world of work and served to highlight the importance and relevance of STEM subjects and their links to a huge range of potential career pathways. The modules map across four strands of the Junior Cycle science curriculum: Earth and Space, Chemical World, Physical World and Biological World and are each related to the world of work.

Some of the key findings of the post-programme evaluation are:

  • 99% of student respondents say their knowledge of STEM increased as a result of their participation in the programme
  • 81% of student respondents are now interested in studying STEM related subjects after they leave school
  • 68% of student respondents now know where to find information about STEM careers and career stories

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin with students from Cabinteely Community School during a Futurewize classDr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin with students from Cabinteely Community School during a Futurewize classFuturewize Programme Ambassador Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin said:  “I have seen first-hand how the Futurewize programme provides a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about STEM subjects in an engaging, interactive way and also be inspired by positive role models from industry, who can provide them with insight into what it is like to pursue a career in STEM.  It is hugely important we address diversity issues in STEM subjects, particularly related to gender and the socio-economic status of those choosing to study and work in these fields. With 65% female participation, and the significant participation of DEIS schools, Futurewize is addressing diversity in a constructive way.”

 Michelle Lyne, a science teacher in Cabinteely Community School whose students participated in the programme, said: “My 1st year students thoroughly enjoyed the Futurewize programme as it really brought the STEM subjects to life in a fun accessible way. Our Fidelity Investments volunteer Kieran McEnery was a great role model from industry, who underlined the range of career opportunities flowing from STEM subjects.

Commenting on their sponsorship of the Futurewize programme, Sandeep Suri, Country Manager for Fidelity Investments said: “We’re delighted with the response from students who participated in the first year of Futurewize. By bringing real-life examples of how STEM relates to everyday life into the classroom, in a fun and interactive way, we’re helping to inspire the next generation as they begin to make important decisions about their career path.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications for Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is proud to support Junior Achievement Ireland in delivering the Futurewize programme. In partnering with our Smart Futures STEM careers programme, Futurewize will help to inspire the next generation of scientists and technologists in Ireland. The programme connects young people with role models that can share valuable career insights, ultimately empowering them to make more informed decisions about their future study and career paths.”

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"My time volunteering with JAI has been hugely rewarding but most importantly, a lot of fun" - a Volunteer's Perspective of JAI

Meredith Adams 1Meredith Adams from Standard Life, a new supporting organisation for the 16/17 school year, has written about her experience of being a JAI volunteer.

Soon after arriving at the Standard Life Dublin office, I was asked to setup our volunteering relationship with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI).

Unlike previous school programmes I’ve worked on, JAI fully train their volunteers and provides them with resource packs for the classroom sessions. Volunteer training was a great experience and started with everyone explaining why they had decided to get involved. I was impressed by the range of answers…people wanted to improve their presentation skills, gain confidence, contribute to their local community and share business knowledge – amongst other things! There were also a number of parents in the group who had heard their children speak so positively of their own JAI experiences that they felt compelled to contribute to the charity’s work.

JAI match their volunteers to schools near where they live and I was tasked with delivering the ‘Our City’ programme to 3rd class (ages 8-9). Over the course of 5 sessions, the class learn about zones in cities, create their own city, and become business owners whereby they market their business, design a pricing strategy and learn how to finance this whilst balancing loans and bank interest! JAI designs their programmes so that each lesson leads on from the previous with the concepts and themes becoming increasingly more complex.

Resource pack ready and slightly nervous, I arrived to teach my first JAI class at Scoil Treasa Naofa. To be honest, one of the trickiest parts of coordinating all the Standard Life volunteers has been learning how to pronounce the names of local Dublin schools! The silent letters and non-phonetic pronunciations have not gotten any easier with time….

Meredith Adams 2Meredith's 3rd class in Scoil Treasa NaofaClass 1 started with introducing myself and explaining what I do at Standard Life. It soon became apparent that Meredith wasn’t quite snappy enough a name for me, and I transitioned to simply being called ‘teacher’. The actual class teacher, Niamh, was on hand to help at all times and I think quite enjoyed having someone else answer the many calls of ‘teacher, teacher’ for a wee while!

With our town planner hats on, we began by learning about the residential, industrial, business and agricultural zones of a city – what these are and the types of activity you’d expect to see in each. The pupils then had to become architects and builders as we learnt about blueprints, including why they’re called this (a new fact for me too – google it!). I introduced the concept of scale to the class and we actually created 3D buildings which the class had to appropriately locate in the different city zones. They really loved naming their businesses and deciding where they should go on our big city zone map….

During the next few sessions we learnt about entrepreneurship as we created and opened restaurants and ice cream shops in our city. Important decisions needed to be made such as what to serve, who to employ and what to charge. The class had a great time advertising their eateries and I heard some interesting ideas such as serving the ‘best ice cream flavour which will be a bit of all the flavours’ and making an American-Chinese-Italian-Indian restaurant to ensure everyone liked something. One marketing savvy pupil commented that it wasn’t enough to advertise the restaurant by making posters but that we should also be promoting the brand through Just Eat, radio adverts, schools and TV – I’ll make sure to pass this advice onto to the Marketing team! We finished the 5 week block of classes by learning about savings accounts, loans and interest. Despite these being new topics, the class were enthusiastic to learn and had a great attitude towards all the topics we covered.

Thinking of volunteering?

Meredith Adams 3Meredith's students after receiving their Certificates of Achievement This term, we had 12 Standard Life volunteers deliver 5 classroom sessions to schools in Dublin. This equates to 12 days of volunteering and engagement with 272 pupils! These numbers are a great contribution from the Irish business to the company wide target of 2,000 volunteering days in 2017.

My time volunteering with JAI has been hugely rewarding but most importantly, a lot of fun. I loved getting to know my class and building a relationship with them as we became town planners, builders and business owners, and also hearing all their weird and wonderful stories – some of which were more relevant to the topics covered than others!

I would encourage anyone interested to get involved as it’s a great way to use your volunteering days to promote the world of work, whilst having some fun and getting involved in the local community. And when your class looks this chuffed to complete the course, how could you not want to return?!

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