60 Seconds with Georgina Ireland – Laois County Council

Monday, March 14th, 2016

What is your favourite part of the Skills @ Work Programme?

I think the mock interviews are my favourite part. All students become equal in their nervousness and their fear of the unknown at this part of the programme.  In my experience, they all take something positive from it. Just to see the smile of relief on their faces is worth the effort! The assistance of my colleagues in Laois County Council is always second to none; they take great pride in ensuring that every student is given a chance to sell themselves at the interview and they provide very practical feedback for the students to take on board and use in the future.

Which session is the most fun for you?

SKILLS@WORK(3)15The introductions! The first session is the one when we get to know who’s who in the class, who wants to talk all time, who knows it all, who is a little shy but very engaged, and those who are not engaged at all and might present a challenge. We explain to them what’s going to happen and the benefits, a bit about our own organisation (you’d be surprised how little they know about a what a local authority does!), and we ask them what they think their dream job might be and how they think they would achieve it. The answers are always quite varied and sometimes completely mad! Getting to know the young people and seeing who they might turn out to be in the future is the best part of this programme, especially when we’re lucky enough to have shaped even one career dream for a young person and spurred them on to achieve that dream.

I should mention also that the visit to the Fire Station each year is also great fun!

What is the biggest challenge?

I always thought that the biggest challenge would be to get my Council colleagues involved, but to date the complete opposite has been the case and the support that has come from the staff for this programme has been wonderful. I think the biggest challenge that I’ve faced so far in this programme, has been the difficult task of making the students understand the importance of staying in school and exploring all the options, especially those young people who don’t particularly like or excel in school and just don’t want to be there. The reality of LCVP and a programme like “Skills @ Work” is that it gives young people a more rounded view of the world of work and what’s facing them in years to come – it’s difficult sometimes to try and portray this concept to a 16-year old who’s just thinking about when his/her next break is, or what they might be doing after school that day. The importance of CV’s and interview skills isn’t easy to impress upon them but we still have to try and this programme really does help.

If I could tell all involved one thing what would it be?

SKILLS@WORK(2)15I would thank the volunteers and ask them to continue to give the young people the benefit of their experience, as it’s invaluable and in some cases, a reality check for them. I think I would try, as I previously said, to impress strongly on the students, how this programme can help to shape their lives, if they think and care about it enough. Certainly I would advise them to make use of the programme and think realistically about life after school, which is just around the corner for them.

Just for fun! Who is your hero and why?

I guess a hero to me is someone who looks outside of themselves and no matter what the obstacles, achieves what they believe is possible, but what others might have thought impossible. My husband Alex is my hero, for many reasons! Like many teenagers, he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with his life after secondary school – he had so much fun in school he didn’t want it to end! He overcame a number of obstacles in the worlds of education and work, never really feeling he was fulfilled in this area. Then in his thirties, he realised that caring is what he does best and went back to full time education, and is now a qualified Special Needs Assistant and Social Care Worker. He calls it his dream job, working with children and people with special needs, and he feels he has finally found what he was born to do. He was brave enough to take a chance and go for what he had always wanted to be, no matter what his age or circumstances were and I think he’s an inspiration to those who, no matter what their age, stick to their guns and work hard to achieve their ultimate goal, whatever that is. He’s a wonderful dad to our two girls and I would be lost without him! Very sentimental, but true!