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Celebrating 20 Years of Industry-Education Engagement: Junior Achievement in Ireland 1996-2016

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.

Business Supporters Founders LunchCurrent patron of JAI, Leslie Buckley, Helen Raftery CEO of JAI, Ann Butler of JAI and the JAI Board of Directors - Alan Markey from Baxter, Michael O'Sullivan from Synopsys, Hugh McCallum from Accenture, Paddy Spicer from Matheson, and Peter Cosgrove from CPL

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.”

Student AlumniAlumni Ciaran Nolan, Tasneem Filaih and Aaron Ashe with current patron Leslie Buckley and Helen Raftery, CEO of JAIOf 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.

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Core Media Supports Junior Achievement across the Country

Core Media 1Aidan Greene, Deputy CEO of Core Media, & Leah Jordan, Senior Client Manager of Core Media, with 4th class students from St. Vincent's Girls School, Dublin 1

Core Media, Ireland’s largest media communications group, and Junior Achievement Ireland have announced details of the primary education 'Our City' programme. This community and enterprise focused initiative will enable more than 4,500 students in 200 classrooms across the country to learn about the planning, growth and development of towns and business in their area.

'Our City' introduces3rd class students to the many elements that comprise the development of a town or city. Students are introduced to their city or town as a place where people work, live, play, go to school. As citizens of 'Our City' the young students also get the chance to build their own city, and in so doing, get to debate the best way to plan and provide for the needs of everyone who lives in the city. Over the course of their five-module programme, students will enjoy starting their own businesses and developing their own advertising campaigns.   

Aidan Greene, Deputy CEO of Core Media said,

“Core Media is delighted to announce the ‘Our City’  programme. We are committed to supporting youth and education initiatives around the country. This opportunity with Junior Achievement Ireland is a fantastic way for us to give back to local communities, while inspiring the next generation of Irish entrepreneurs.”

Helen Raftery, CEO Junior Achievement Ireland, commented, “With the support of partners like Core Media we are able to connect students with the world outside their classrooms in a way which is both meaningful and educational. The 3rd class students who take part in the Our City programme will benefit from the insights from the volunteers who will visit their class over five weeks, all the while being supported by the class teacher. Helping students to connect what they do in school with the world around them to ensure they see the relevance of their studies in their everyday lives is a very important aspect of their development and one in which we are delighted that Core Media has invested its resources and expertise.”     

Commenting on the Core Media ‘Our City’ programme, 3rd class teacher Mark Creavin said,

“This programme is an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about business in their own environment – it’s about bringing business into the classroom. However, it also allows our students to get out into a real working environment and witness what that is like. A strong link has grown between St. Vincent’s GNS and Core Media and Aidan Greene has played a key role in that by volunteering at our school in Junior Achievement programmes over the past few years.”

The Core Media supported ‘Our City’ programme is the lead programme in the company’s support of Junior Achievement Ireland.

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Science in Primary Schools a Priority for Gas Networks Ireland

OUMinister for Education & Skills Jan O'Sullivan at the launch of the Our Universe programme in Corpus Christi Primary School, Moyross, Limerick

Gas Networks Ireland, in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), is bringing the Our Universe programme to over 5,000 primary school students around Ireland. The programme introduces science through practical and engaging classroom-based lessons and is designed to encourage primary school students to continue with science as they transition to second level.  Each year, 200 volunteers from organisations around the country will be recruited, trained and supported by JAI to facilitate the in-classroom programme, which is an integral part of Gas Networks Ireland’s commitment to fostering students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Our Universe comprises five modules spanning the fundamentals of science while highlighting its value to young people in their everyday lives. Promoting STEM to primary school students in a fun and interactive way is crucial in promoting a positive attitude to science. Labour market data show that Ireland continues to experience a skills shortage in the STEM sector despite major growth and employment opportunities. 

Launching Our Universe at Corpus Christi Primary School, Moyross, Limerick, Minister Jan O’Sullivan said “It is absolutely vital that we have adequate numbers of qualified science graduates if we are to continue to grow the STEM sector in Ireland. These are the graduates of 2025 and the Ireland of 2025 and beyond will increasingly depend on scientists, engineers and innovators.  With the help of businesses like Gas Networks Ireland, we will ensure a sustainable supply of qualified personnel in the STEM sector supporting Ireland’s economic growth and development. We will also give these students the widest possible range of options for their futures.  Complementing the primary school science curriculum, programmes like Our Universe will enable our young people to explore STEM and encourage them to choose science subjects for the Leaving Cert and beyond.” 

Our Universe is a great programme to educate students in the areas of energy, physics, chemistry and biology.  The lessons focus on areas that appeal to young people such as how the human skeleton works, how forensic science helps solve crime as well our own energy module.   We hope that students and business volunteers alike enjoy the programme and that, in the long term, it will help to cultivate a greater number of STEM graduates and skilled professionals in the future” said Caroline O’Connor, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Gas Networks Ireland.

“We are delighted to have the support of the Minister for Education and Gas Networks Ireland at today’s launch. It is critical that industry and education come together to excite young people about studying science and the skills required for success,” said Helen Raftery, CEO JAI. She continued “It is through the support of partners like Gas Networks Ireland that we are able to connect our students with business volunteers who in turn share their insights and expertise, linking the classroom and the ‘real-world’ to enhance their learning experience. We look forward to continuing in partnership with Gas Networks Ireland to ensure 5,000 primary students enjoy the opportunity to learn about our universe in the coming years."

Our Universe will be delivered to 6th class primary school students across the country and volunteers from member organisations will begin facilitating the programme in the coming weeks.

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'Guide-A-Key' Representing Ireland Wins MetLife LifeChanger Award at European Finals

COYC15 MetLife-LifeChanger-Award Guide-a-key-IrelandGuide-A-Key from Desmond College Limerick & April Hawkins VP MetLife Foundation at European Final JA Company of the Year Competition Berlin

Berlin, Germany, 31 July 2015 Guide-A-Key, a team of student entrepreneurs from Desmond College,  Limerick won the MetLife LifeChanger Award, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, at the Junior Achievement Europe 26th annual Company of the Year Competition (COYC).

The Guide-A-Key team, comprising Emma Herbert, Seamus Hurley, Eoin Considine, Eamonn Browne & Diarmuid Curtin impressed the MetLife LifeChanger Award jury. Their combination of a passionate focus on social issues and determined commitment to sustaining a viable business through strong financial performance proved to be a winning formula. Guide-A-Key designed and manufactured a device, which helps people with limited dexterity to insert a key into a lock. The device is affixed to the area around the keyhole, allowing the user to simply slide their key into the top part of the device, which then guides the key into the lock.

Presenting the award, April Hawkins, Assistant Vice President, MetLife Foundation, said: “The MetLife LifeChanger Award recognises the student company that best embraces social impact, financial performance and innovation. Guide-A-Key delivered a viable business plan for today’s challenging markets, while demonstrating benefit to their local community, ability to be profitable and competitive, as well as innovation in their field. We are proud to play a role in supporting young people to get ahead in life. Through the MetLife LifeChanger initiative, MetLife Foundation and MetLife volunteers are helping thousands of students in building critical financial, work readiness and entrepreneurship skills.”

“It is great to have received the MetLife Life Changer Award, but the most important part is having been able to develop a simple device that can make a positive change in people’s lives. The JA Company Programme has been an amazing experience from start to finish, and we’ve been able to learn so many new skills along the way” reflected Diarmuid Curtin Guide-A-Key team member after receiving their award.

Over 350 COYC participants gathered in Berlin, Germany, between 28-31 July to compete with the best student entrepreneurs from across Europe. 37 teams representing 36 countries participated.

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Glück Guide A Key! Off to Berlin

Web Version Future is Bright - Enterpreneurship Education Works

The national final of JA Company of the Year Competition 2015 hosted by DCU Ryan Academy, Citywest on May 13th and 14th was a thoroughly enjoyable entrepreneurial experience for students, teachers and mentors from Desmond College, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick; The Royal and Prior Comprehensive, Raphoe, Co. Donegal; Royal School, Cavan; Mercy College, Sligo; St. Caimin’s Community School, Shannon, Co. Clare; Árdscoil na Tríonóide, Athy, Co. Kildare; St. Joseph of Cluny, Co. Dublin; St. Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross, Co. Wexford; Bishopstown Community School, Co. Cork and Coláiste Rís, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

After an intense two days of competition the judges eventually opted to choose ‘Guide a Key’, the team from Desmond College, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick as the Junior Achievement Company of the Year 2015. The team designed and manufactured a simple solution to assist people with limited dexterity to insert their keys into locks. The device is affixed to the area around the keyhole; the user simply slides their key into the device, which then guides the key into the keyhole. ‘Guide a Key’ will now go on to represent Ireland at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition in Berlin in July competing against 39 other teams from across Europe. 

The judging panel comprised Eoghan Stack, CEO, DCU Ryan Academy, Julie Spillane MD Accenture Global Services, Padraic O’Neill MD & Site Lead Pfizer Ringsend & Mark Groves, Assoc Director PM Group. The panel was very impressed with the performance of the students across each element of the competition and had a very tough decision to make. The team from Limerick came out on top based on the combined scores given to the company’s business plan, the excellence of the work at the trade stand, the quality of their interview and the poise and professionalism of the business pitch and presentation in front of a large invited audience.

Gluck in Berlin!

Our pic shows Emma Herbert (Managing Director) and her fellow directors: Eamon Browne, Eoin Considine, Seamus Hurley & Diarmuid Curtin. (Photo credit: Marc O'Sullivan)

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