See how our business supporters, volunteers and teachers viewed our activities last year. Our Impact & Review Newslink 2014/15 is now available to be viewed here
"My time volunteering with JAI has been hugely rewarding but most importantly, a lot of fun" - a Volunteer's Perspective of JAI
Meredith 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….
Class 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?
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?!
Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin has joined a JA volunteer in Cabinteely Community School in facilitating the Futurewize programme which aims to inspire young junior cycle students to explore career possibilities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Assistant Professor in the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics and science communicator, is Brand Ambassador for Futurewize and was delighted to immerse herself in the programme, saying: “The Futurewize programme is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about STEM subjects in a fun, interactive way and also be inspired by positive role models from industry who can provide them with an insight into what it is like to work in STEM related businesses. Today’s session really underlined the impact the programme can have on students, especially girls, who may not have thought a career in STEM was for them.”
Futurewize is supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partner Fidelity Investments, and was designed by JAI for delivery by business volunteers from STEM industries. These volunteers will act as role models from the world of work by sharing their own real-life experiences as they work through the Futurewize modules. The modules map the four strands of the Junior Cycle science curriculum: Earth and Space, Chemical World, Physical World and Biological World. By the end of the 2016/17 school year, more than 2,000 secondary-school students will have completed Futurewize with 80 trained business volunteers from Fidelity Investments and other volunteer companies.
Kieran McEnery from Fidelity Investments, who taught Futurewize to the 1st year class in Cabinteely Community School over the course of five weeks, said: “I had a wonderful experience facilitating the Futurewize programme in Cabinteely Community School. After my initial nerves dissipated I enjoyed opening the students’ eyes to the world of STEM and the opportunities that could lie ahead of them if they pursue an interest in this area.”
Kieran was delighted to have Dr Ní Shúilleabháin with him for his final session: “To be joined in class by Dr Ní Shúilleabháin was an impactful way to finish the programme. I am proud that Fidelity Investments are supporting such a worthwhile initiative.”
Michelle Lyne, science teacher in Cabinteely Community School, 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, and it was inspiring to hear from Dr Ní Shúilleabháin and learn about her passion for STEM.”
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.”
On behalf of JAI, Chief Executive Helen Raftery, said: “JAI has been supported by industry and school leaders in delivering entrepreneurship education opportunities to young people for 20 years. Futurewize is a great addition to the menu of options we offer our partner schools and businesses as the programme inspires students to reach their full potential and consider the variety of careers available to them in STEM.”
100 Transition Year (TY) students from around the country enjoyed showcasing their newly-acquired project management skills at the PM Skills for Life Innovation Camp in the iconic Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick on 3rd May.
During the 2016/17 school year 500 transition year students from 15 schools across Carlow, Clare, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford have been learning about Project Management. PM Skills for Life is a 4-module programme facilitated by industry volunteers to bring TY students through the core principles of project management. It is a collaborative initiative between the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) and JAI.
The Innovation Camp in Thomond Park brought together young project managers from all over the country who have excelled during the completion of the programme with expert PM volunteers from Dell, Northern Trust, Stryker and Shannon Engine Support to participate in a masterclass and complete a challenge. To get the day off to the best possible start, the students, their mentors and teachers in attendance heard from rugby legend David Wallace. Reflecting on his experiences with Munster, Ireland and the Lions, David shared his views on the factors that contribute to building an environment in which success can be achieved.
David, who was recently appointed as Business Development Manager for Bank of Ireland in the Munster region, remarked: “The projects undertaken as part of the PM Skills for Life programme embody qualities like ambition, excellence, integrity and community. These are the values which brought us such success during my time with Munster Rugby and it’s great to see them reflected in the choices, which the students made in applying themselves to their projects.”
Ethna Lyons, teacher in Laurel Hill Secondary School FCJ whose class had completed the PM Skills for Life programme, commented that “Having volunteers like Paul McMahon & Andy Cunningham from Dell come into the school to complete the PM Skills for Life programme was absolutely brilliant. The programme, including today’s Innovation Camp will, I believe, underlines for the students that they can successfully manage a project and overcome any challenge that they might encounter.”
Those ideas on developing successful teams were put immediately to use in the course of the innovation camp where students worked in small groups with their peers from all over to the country to complete a challenge as part of their advanced project management workshop.
PMIEF Grants Manager Michelle Armstrong who attended the event said: “In the 21st century, the demand for skilled project managers is at an all-time high as organisations focus on higher productivity and greater customer satisfaction with minimum resources. The PMI Educational Foundation is delighted to have joined with Junior Achievement Ireland to educate students on the importance of project management as a skill set they will need for college, career, and lifelong success.”
Students were delighted to be given the chance to visit the Thomond Park Museum which completed an exciting day for them as well as their teachers and mentors.
Innovation Camp to Celebrate Young Project Managers
100 transition year students from around the country have been nominated to take part in the PM Skills for Life Innovation Camp in Thomond Park Stadium on 3 May.
The Innovation Camp will celebrate young project managers who have excelled during the completion of the PM Skills for Life programme, a collaborative initiative between the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) and Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI).
The PM Skills for Life programme enables students to understand, plan, carry out, monitor and evaluate a project of their own. 500 Transition Year students from 15 schools across Carlow, Clare, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford completed the programme this year.
The projects undertaken by the students ranged from social enterprises such as fundraisers for local charities to school integration events for younger students, and from mental health awareness campaigns to fundraising events to support school renovation appeals.
Thank you to all the volunteers, from a host of supporting organisations, who assisted the students in developing the skills involved in working as an effective team to plan and run a successful project. This form of real-to-life experience is absolutely invaluable in preparing students, like those pictured here from Assumption Secondary, Clondalkin, during their fundraising event, for fulfilling post-school careers.
PMIEF and JAI joined forces to present the opportunity for project management professionals to work with second level students to help them understand the benefits of acquiring and practising project management skills.
Students from the 15 schools will travel to Thomond Park Stadium on 3 May to complete an Innovation Camp, which will involve a masterclass from a guest speaker as part of an advanced project management workshop. They will also share their key learnings as project managers with their peers. A tour of the iconic stadium will complete an exciting day for the young project managers and their teachers and mentors.
Helen Raftery, CEO of Junior Achievement Ireland, commented that “We are grateful to PMIEF for the resources to run this initiative, and appreciate all of the time and expertise of our expert project management volunteers to promote student learning. Project management is both a practical 21st century life skill as well as critical business skill. Through experiential learning and a hands-on introduction to project management these students are better prepared for future success and have developed skills that will be beneficial to them irrespective of the career path they choose.”