JA mentors are model examples from the varied world of work

dhenehanNational

Citi volunteer mentor Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane, a 23-year-old cloud automation engineer at Citi, is one of thousands of JA volunteers who mentor and help students in primary and second level schools across Ireland. Responding to demand from schools, JA recruits, vets, trains, equips and supports volunteers from the business world to facilitate programmes spanning four themes: entrepreneurship, employability, financial literacy and the value of STEM.

The programmes – now including a range of blended learning options which can be facilitated online – are designed to complement the formal curriculum and allow students to learn from the experiences of their volunteer. A survey of more than 3,000 JA volunteers over the past five years showed that 76 per cent felt their communication skills had improved, 60 per cent had increased their confidence, and 99 per cent would recommend a JA programme to a colleague.

Strategic thinking and progressing through their studies with an open mind is wise advice for students in 2021. Research from the World’s Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report found the workplace and many of our traditional job roles are changing drastically. Some 65 per cent of the jobs the next generation will be hired for do not even exist today. By 2025, it is predicted that six million low-qualified jobs will potentially disappear while 15 million jobs requiring high educational attainment will be created.

Lauren is delighted to be involved as Citi volunteer, having enjoyed JA programmes during every year of her primary school education.

“Completing the JA programmes helped to open my eyes to the opportunities that were out there,” said Lauren. “I went on to be a female in the world of tech after studying Business and Computing at the National College of Art and Design. I decided to ‘pay it forward’ and be a volunteer because I want other students to get what I did from the JA programmes, to see all the different possibilities that are out there.
“I want to be a role model for girls in tech because you can’t be what you can’t see, and those students can see what I have accomplished and learn about how they too can achieve whatever they want.”