Members of the business community and leaders in education in the Mid-West joined Minister Jan O’Sullivan on Friday 6th November at Dell’s Limerick Campus to consider the future of the world of work and to discuss how industry and education combine to inspire young people in the region to maximise their potential.
This unique opportunity was hosted by Dell for Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), which is the largest non-profit organisation in the region, recruiting, training and supporting volunteers from business to facilitate programmes covering themes like employability, financial literacy, the value of studying STEM subjects and entrepreneurship skills for local students.
As part of the event, student entrepreneurs from Desmond College Limerick, who represented Ireland with distinction over the summer at the JA Europe Company of the Year Final, were presented with a memento of their achievement for their school.
In summarising her remarks today Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O'Sullivan T.D said:
“I want to acknowledge the work of Dell in contributing to the wider community – not just in the education sector as we are focussing on here today, but in a range of other initiatives such as supporting the Arts and raising funds for charity. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Dave & all his colleagues for their commitment and innovation in contributing to our community.
Equally, I am delighted to show my support for the work of Junior Achievement Ireland. The reputation it has among schoolleaders and other stakeholders has been built over 20 years and continues to go from strength to strength. I believe training volunteers from local businesses to work with students in classrooms is a great way to help the students make a connection between what they are doing in school and the variety of options open to them. I would encourage every suitable organisation to get involved if they can – investing in young people is always worthwhile and with Junior Achievement the volunteers themselves learn as much from the programme as the students!”
Fiona McCarthy, HR Executive Director, Dell EMEA said: “We’re delighted to host this morning’s event at our campus here in Limerick. Dell have enjoyed a long relationship with Junior Achievement Ireland in Limerick as well as in Dublin and Cork where our other campuses are located. From a Dell perspective, each year in Limerick we put 50-60 team members on the JA teaching roster – we cover primary and secondary schools and most will spend a class a week for 5 or 6 weeks delivering the set programmes. We have also worked with Junior Achievement on the Company Programme, with Dell supplying mentors and bringing in school groups for the ‘Future Skills’ Project. There’s also a STEM skills project that some of our regular programme volunteers have participated on. Junior Achievement is an excellent partner. We look forward to continuing to work together and would have no hesitation in urging you and your company to get involved with the organisation.”
Industry expert, Peter Cosgrove, director and Chairman of JAI and a partner in cpl, one of Ireland’s largest recruitment firms, spoke at the event, sharing his research on the future of the world of work.
“Technology is influencing how organisations are planning and developing. Employers must offer flexible work and an open, collaborative, free-flowing work environment. Similarly, the education system is challenged to continue to encourage creativity and enable young people to develop skills in analysing and synthesising significant amounts of data so that they can enjoy a rewarding career in the workplace of the future. The emergence of the portfolio career is also a factor - where people are now looking to work for companies whose mission and values set are aligned with their own passions and talents. Employers now have to accommodate expectations around their corporate citizenship such as their willingness to offer volunteering opportunities in order to engage the employees they need,” he said.
Seminar attendees also heard from the pupils of Le Chéile N.S. The young students recently participated in the Junior Achievement 'Our World' programme and were delighted to demonstrate their newly-acquired knowledge in the STEM subjects to the audience. They also learned how technology and communications are critical growth areas in the globalmarketplace and got to actively practice their entrepreneurship studies by developing their own business ideas as part of the programme, which was delivered by local business volunteers.
Margaret Ryan, 6th class Teacher from Le Chéile N.S. who has worked with the business volunteers during their time at the school, expressed her delight with the reception her pupils received:
“The pupils were chuffed. They got a lovely welcome here today. In fact it’s a fitting way to round off the Junior Achievement programme with this event, as each lesson has been carefully designed to ensure that everyone gets a chance to succeed in their own individual way. All of the volunteers that have come into our school from Dell and other businesses around the area have been fantastic with the children. I have to say the pupils love their JA activities, especially as they get to work with someone from the ‘real world,’ someone who is not their teacher! And, while it’s different, it’s important to know that all of the programmes are fully complementary to the curriculum so it’s really the same message – just a new messenger, which sometimes is needed,” she said.
In her remarks to the invited guests, Area Manager, Teresa Leahy expressed her appreciation for the generosity of business leaders in the Midwest in enabling Junior Achievement to partner with 19 corporate supporters, which provided 269 volunteers enabling over 5,000 students to participate in JA programmes and events in 2014/15. In highlighting why JA programmes are so impactful, she advised: “research shows us that helping young people to see the relevance of their academic studies to their everyday lives is a vital factor in persuading them to stay in school and to take maximum advantage of the opportunity that education offers.”