Senior leaders from some of Ireland’s best-known businesses gathered in Dublin last week to celebrate their remarkable record in having supported Junior Achievement Ireland for 20 years.
Building on the foundations laid by our first supporters we have become the largest non-profit organisation in the country recruiting, training and supporting volunteers from business to facilitate in-classroom programmes covering themes such as employability, financial literacy, the value of studying STEM subjects and entrepreneurship skills. Some 800,000 students have participated in JAI programmes and events over the past 20 years.
Since our inception we have enjoyed the stalwart support of 3M; A & L Goodbody; Accenture; AIB; Baxter Healthcare; Campbell Bewley; Dell; Dublin Airport Authority; Deloitte; Fidelity; Lilly; Hewlett Packard; Irish Shell; Johnson & Johnson; PwC and Symantec.
Founding Director, Della Clancy, began the work of recruiting business leaders to volunteer to work with students in Ireland in 1996 based on the entrepreneurship education model run by JA USA since 1919. In our first year 600 students participated in JAI programmes, while last year over 63,000 participated. This level of investment, including the release of over 3,000 volunteers from over 165 supporting companies, is a powerful testament to how industry and education can combine to inspire young people to maximise their potential.
Current patron, Leslie Buckley hosted the event to celebrate those supporting organisations that have worked with us from our early days and to reflect on the impact of this unique education-industry engagement in its first 20 years. In welcoming the gathered business leaders, he said: “The level of demand for JA activities from school leaders and the support it enjoys from leading industry figures is testament to a really great initiative, which shows what can be achieved when industry and education are facilitated in their joint endeavours. Volunteers from businesses who work with students in the classroom is a great way to help make that connection between what they are doing in school and the real world.”
Of the 800,000 students that have participated since 1996, three - Aaron Ashe, Tasneem Filaih and Ciarán Nolan - were invited to attend the lunch and served to remind all of us of how volunteering to work with students can have a profound impact on their lives.
Peter Cosgrove, a partner in cpl and Chairman of JAI, paid tribute to all past Chairmen and the founding director, Della Clancy, for instigating and overseeing the growth of our organisation. A specialist on the future of the world of work, Peter expressed the view that opportunities facilitated by those volunteering with JAI are more relevant than ever. Reflecting on trends in workplace recruitment, he highlighted the importance of understanding how prospective employees must be comfortable with collaboration and always-on connections while employers must offer flexible work and an open, collaborative, free-flowing work environment.
“For employers, there is no doubt that attracting the right people means accommodating those for whom the alignment of the company’s mission and values with their own passions and talents is a deciding factor in their career planning. To enjoy such a rewarding ‘portfolio’ career, skills such as the ability to work in teams, communicate effectively using a variety of media and the skills to analyse and synthesise significant amounts of data are key, thus making JA programmes and activities more relevant than ever.”
CEO of Junior Achievement Ireland, Helen Raftery noted that this year about 165 organisations across 200 sites around the country will release more than 3,000 volunteers to work with students and “this level of support will enable more than 60,000 students to participate in JA activities. There is no doubt that getting the opportunity to work with positive role models from the world of work makes a profound positive impact on young people and we are very appreciative of the continuing support of our longest-standing partners and all our supporting organisations for continuing to inspire and motivate young people all over the country.”
Sincere thanks to our founding members for your continued support, we are looking forward to the next 20 years.