Education Success Stories

The Skills @ Work Programme: A Student’s Perspective

By Marie Coady, former Our Lady’s College Galway student. My family’s working history is mostly made up of labourers, which made getting career information for someone indoors-y and bookish like myself difficult. Luckily, the BITCI Skills @ Work (S@W) programme enlightened me to the career prospects that would be more enjoyable and involve significantly fewer stains and injuries for myself. In 2015, my Fifth Year class in Presentation Secondary School Galway was linked with IBM, who gave us talks on subjects including the work of IBM, C.V. drafting and interview preparation. This concluded with a visit to the IBM offices, where we toured the building, listened to employees talk about their work, and participated in mock job interviews. Most students don’t get to experience these things until they leave school, so it was a fantastic opportunity to get our bearings. I can honestly say the S@W programme set me on the right course...

Cornmarket Group pioneering education inclusion in Ireland

L to R: Germaine Noonan, Head of Education, BITCI, Roddy Murphy, Managing Director, Cornmarket Financial Services, Rachel Hyland, Learning & HR Technology Business Partner, Cornmarket Financial Services Cornmarket Group Financial Services is one of Ireland’s leading insurance brokers. They provide a range of financial services uniquely focused for public sector employees. Cornmarket is also one of leading companies supporting educational disadvantage in Ireland. They have been involved with Business in the Community Ireland’s (BITCI) since 2006 – on a number of our exciting initiatives supported by their many staff volunteers, including Time to Read, Student Mentoring Programme, Skills @ Work (S@W) and also the sponsorship of our Management Excellence for Principals (MEP) programme. Rachel Hyland, Learning & HR Technology Business Partner is at the helm leading and coordinating their education partnerships on behalf of Cornmarket. At Cornmarket, supporting education and schools has been developed as a strategic investment in their local community and their staff, “Caring and...

Company Insight: Muirgheas Griffin of Smurfit Kappa News Press

Muirgheas Griffin, Managing Director of Smurfit Kappa News Press gives insight into the company’s involvement with the Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) Skills @ Work (S@W) and Management Excellence for Principals programmes. Q1. What was it about the BITCI education programmes that initially appealed to Smurfit Kappa News Press? “Smurfit Kappa News Press has always recognised the importance of making a valuable contribution to the community in which it operates. With that in mind, in 2012, the company made the decision to link up with BITCI and a local school O’Carolan College, Nobber, Co. Meath to participate in the S@W programme. This programme prepares students for life after school and gives them an insight into the world of work.” Q2. What do you think are the benefits to Smurfit Kappa News’ employees for getting involved with the S@W programme and meeting the students? “We have found that corporate social responsibility initiatives and activities are something which our employees find...

Marks and Spencer give Top Marks to Tipperary Students

With six Skills @ Work (S@W) partnerships across Ireland, one in Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Galway, Tipperary and Dublin, Marks and Spencer (M&S) are certainly a role model company for engaging with young people across Ireland. In Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, M&S has been partnered with a local secondary school, Clonmel Central Technical Institute (CCTI) as part of the Business in the Community Ireland’s (BITCI) S@W programme since September 2010. From the very beginning of the partnership, staff members have shared their expertise with the students and have helped open their eyes to the variety of career options available to them after school. Jade Greene, Store Manager of M&S, Clonmel discussing customer service guidelines with students from CCTl. The S@W programme provides students with a unique insight into the world of work. Over six sessions, students are provided with the opportunity to learn about their partnering company and to consider career and further study options available to them. Lindsay Comer (left), M&S and Elaine Begley (right), Guidance Counsellor, CCTI with a student chosen for work experience...

BITCI & Basis.point launch Mentoring Alumni

In February, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) with the support of Basis.point funding launched a new Alumni network for former mentors and students. The annual event was held in the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin 2 with all previous mentors and mentees invited. The aims of establishing the Alumni are to provide a forum for Alumni mentors and mentees to meet, network and provide support; to provide a forum for former mentees to access business support and expert advice to maintain a focus on maximising their potential; to establish a lifelong connection with all mentees who have come through the programme and to provide a platform to highlight the success of the Alumni members. L to R: Isabelle Popovici, John Carroll, Karina Howley, Eoin Speight. Research shows that many students struggle when they leave school in the initial couple of years whether they are in college courses or working.  In particular, young people from...

Zurich Employees Inspire Young Readers

Zurich will be celebrating the third year of their strong partnership with St. John of God NS, Wexford as part of Time to Read this coming September. Principal of St. John of God NS, Liam Turner has praised the influence of the enthusiastic Zurich volunteers have had on the children involved: “As a DEIS school having positive adult role-models in and around books, reading and the enjoyment of all things literary is priceless.” Zurich Ireland first got involved in 2014 with their Dublin head office in Ballsbridge, paired with St. Brigid’s Primary, Haddington Road. Having seen the huge benefits of the programme, the following year Zurich expanded their involvement in the Time to Read to their Blackrock office which was matched with St. Kevin’s NS, Sallynoggin. In 2016, their Drinagh office in Wexford partnered with St. John of God NS. Wexford employees have thoroughly enjoyed getting involved with the local...

Focusing students for the Future – Communicorp Media

Like all good ideas, the concept for the Skills @ Work programme is simple, a business is matched with a local school and employees provide insight about their roles and work life to the students while also developing their own skills. Communicorp Media has been doing just this with Our Lady of Mercy, Secondary School, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, since 2012 and they have also recently decided to expand their involvement with the programme to another partner school, St. Marks Community School, Tallaght, Dublin 24. This expansion will tie in with their CSR Community Pillar, “Opening Doors” initiative. Communicorp Media owns and operates a portfolio of media channels with a strong focus on commercial radio (such as 98FM, Newstalk, Today FM, SPIN 1038 and SPIN South West) and emerging digital media. We spoke with Sadie Larkin, Community Project Director, Communicorp Media & the Iris O’Brien Foundation, to learn more about Communicorp Media’s involvement with...

Abbott encourages Teachers towards STEM

Abbott recently held 3 STEM ‘Seeing is Believing’ days for local teachers in Sligo/Mayo, Longford and Do negal. They welcomed science teachers and guidance counsellors to their diagnostic facilities in Finisklin Business Park, Sligo; Lisnamuck, Longford Town and their diabetes facility in Lurganboy, Donegal Town. The one-day visit to each location is part of our BITCI STEM ‘Seeing is Believing’ initiative. Seeing is Believing supports ‘Smart Futures’, a collaborative industry and education framework raising awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) careers at post-primary level. The goal of Seeing is Believing is to give STEM teachers and guidance counsellors a deep and engaging insight into leading STEM sector companies and the innovative and diverse range of opportunities and careers that exist within the local region. Working with leading local STEM sector companies, it is a one-day tour with a series of talks from employees in the sector. The Seeing is Believing programme is...

Time to Count goes Nationwide

“Opened my eyes to the community around myself, allowed me to develop skills I would never get the chance to develop within an office.” – Volunteer Dr. Eleanor Walsh, Assistant Manager & Time to Count, Programme Coordinator, BITCI gives an important update on our Time to Count roll out. Were you interested in numbers and maths when you were a child? Would you enjoy sharing this love of maths? We need YOUR company to provide volunteers with a love for numbers to help local primary school children nationwide explore and develop a love of maths for themselves. Our Time to Count Steering Group has recommended a national rollout of the Time to Count programme due to the success of the extended pilot programme which took place last Spring. BITCI would like to sincerely thank all those who took part. In particular, the funder the ESB Energy for Generation Fund who generously...

Student Work Experience- What’s in it for the company?

Work experience is an integral part of any student’s education. It provides them an opportunity to reflect on their own development and gives exposure to career options, the work place environment and networking. But what’s in it for the company? Anita Power, HR Manager, Dulux Paints shares her views on providing Student Work Experience. Anita Power thinks it’s as advantageous to Dulux as the students. “At Dulux Paints Ireland Limited we endeavor to support our local communities through our employees giving back to projects by giving their time and expertise with particular emphasis in the area of education programmes.  Business in the Community’s Skills @ Work programme fits these criteria exactly and it is a programme that our employees have enthusiastically embraced.” As part of Dulux’s participation in the Skills @ Work programme, they have offered 2 weeks paid work experience to four students from their partnering schools North Presentation...

Endless Adventures at the Local Library

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein By getting involved with the Time to Read programme, businesses give children the opportunity to learn and grow through reading. To ensure this continues long after Time to Read finishes, a visit to the school’s local Library is included in the programme to show the children and their families the amazing free resources they can utilise by themselves. We chatted to some of the Librarians who we have worked with to get their view on why it is still so important to encourage children to use their local libraries in a time when any information they may need is at the fingertips through technology. Laura Joyce, Senor Librarian at Lucan Library sees how encouraging children to use their local library and read as much as possible can have a lasting effect throughout their lives; “Children who are introduced to libraries...

Giving the Gift of Reading: Davy

We speak to Paul Boland, Davy who returns to his former Primary School, O’ Connell CBS, Dublin 1 to take part in Time to Read. What has been a highlight of taking part in Time to Read for you so far?  The energy and enthusiasm in which the children, school and parents engaged with the programme and its objectives. Also meeting Ms. Patsy O’ Keefe and Mr. Masterson again and witnessing all the improvements and fantastic work that is being done by the school for the people of the local area. L-R Joanne Hartnett, Davy; Callum & Lennon, Paul Boland, Davy How do you think the children in the school now compare to you at that age?  I was very impressed with both the standard of reading, and the attitude to reading of the boys. I feel that very few children at the school now would be at risk of falling through the cracks...

The Pendulum of Mentoring in Limerick

Dr. Eleanor Walsh, BITCI reflects on what inspires volunteers to take part in the Student Mentoring programme. This programme has expanded in Limerick, thanks to basis.point funding and companies supporting their local community in this meaningful way. Thanks X Factor! When we go to talk to students these days about having a mentor there is very little additional explanation needed – since the advent of X factor they all know what it involves. The only down side is that our business volunteer mentors are under pressure (a small bit!) to be the next Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne or Cheryl! But this indeed is a task that they rise to, as they praise the students for their efforts at their school work, help them get organised and focused and introduce them to new people and places in an effort to help them reach their potential.  Lucky students! Currently in Limerick city, three...

Generation Apprenticeship: Suir Engineering

Paul Cremmins, Director, Suir Engineering speaks about his recent contribution to our Management Excellence for Teachers Programme. Paul delivered a seminar highlighting the many apprenticeship opportunities’ in the construction industry, in particular in Suir Engineering. This seminar was delivered to Guidance Counsellors in the South East region. In addition to this seminar Paul also established links with future employees by visiting schools. Tell us how you engage the future talent pipeline: Over the past two years I have been visiting secondary schools to speak to students & career counsellors about apprenticeships and construction studies. This provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the blended education system associated with apprenticeships as opposed to the independent and practice led learning associated with regular 3rd level education. It also allows me the opportunity to explain the requirements necessary to qualify for an apprenticeship and the commitment to ensure qualification at the end of the four years. The students need...

Company Spotlight: Elavon

Elavon has been involved with Time to Read at two separate sites, Arklow, Co. Wicklow and Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin since the pilot in 2011. We wanted to find what the impacts and benefits on their involvement over the last six years.  We spoke with Maria Carroll, European Portfolio Planner EPMO, Elavon on why the company continues to be involved; “Since the very beginning the value of Time to Read was evident. Every year a new group of children get the benefit of picking up a book and taking some time out of the day to read, which is becoming more important for children and adults.” From a company perspective, Maria also sees how the volunteers benefit from taking part; “We see the positive impact the sense of giving-back brings to our volunteers. This is truly a wonderful and very worthwhile program that has a positive impact on everybody involved.” Children from St Patrick’s NS, Arklow getting a tour of Elavon‘s...

80 ESB Employees give their ‘Time to Read’

Business in the Community Ireland is proud to partner with ESB for their fifth year in Time to Read programme. Eighty of their staff are volunteering in seven primary schools around Ireland. ESB volunteers with 2nd class children from St. Mary’s NS, Fairview, Dublin 3 ESB’s participation again this year was marked by an event St Mary’s NS, Fairview, Dublin 3. Four other Dublin schools, as well as a school from Cork and Wexford, are participating: •St Kevin’s Boys National School, Barry Avenue, Finglas, Dublin 11. •St Laurence O’Toole Girls National School, Seville Place, North Wall, Dublin 1. •St Patrick’s Girls National School, Cambridge Road, Ringsend, Dublin 4. •Queen of Angels National School, Limes Road, Wedgewood, Dublin 16. •Glasheen Girls National School, School Avenue, Glasheen, Co. Cork. •Glenbrien National School, Glenbrien, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Pat O’Doherty, ESB Chief Executive says: “Literacy is a key building block of life-long learning. The Time to Read...

5 Companies Celebrate 10 years in Partnership with Local Schools

In April, BITCI celebrated the wonderful achievement of five businesses reaching a milestone of ten years in partnership with their local school.  It is a great testimony to all involved who have provided leadership and support during that time. Below are some reflections from those involved. Q. As a teacher, what positive outcomes have you seen the programme achieve over the last 10 years? A: We feel very fortunate in Grange Community College to be part of the BITC programme, especially to work with a company like Mondelez. We have used the Skills @ Work and Mentoring programmes and students have benefited hugely from both. We particularly find the interview process a wonderful opportunity for students to gain confidence and communication skills which is crucial for their future success. Also “A Day in the Life” exposes students to a variety of careers available to them and is an excellent motivational tool for them to work hard at school to achieve their...

Ricoh boost pupils employability

Lauren Meritt, Business Generation Executive, Ricoh, reflects on their participation in the Skills @ Work programme with St. Kevin’s College, Ballygall, Dublin.  As a proud member of Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), Ricoh Ireland is always excited to take part in its Skills @ Work programme. For the past two years, we have partnered with St. Kevin’s College, a community school in Ballygall, Dublin. The goal of the programme is to introduce post-primary school students to the professional world. Comprising of five sessions, the programme is designed to elevate each student’s professional skillset and put it into practice. Last year, 13 students from St Kevin’s joined us at our new Dublin HQ for a site visit, where we shared with them our collaboration spaces and allowed them to experiment with the different technologies we provide at Ricoh. Since that initial meeting in January, our students have taken part in four subsequent...

Talk Back with Louise Durand

Name: Louise Durand, Performer at Stomp & Freelance Presenter, London 1. Tell us about your involvement with BITCI: I attended St Paul’s CC in Waterford between the years 2002 – 2008 and in 5th & 6th year of Secondary school I was involved in the mentoring programme. I was matched with Anne Woods who was working at Anglo Irish Bank at the time. 2. After completing school, how did you go about carving out a successful career path: After spending a substantial amount of time with my Mentor Anne, I had no choice than to be completely compelled to follow any goals I had in relation to my desired career path. When I was given my place at UCC, I took with me all the valuable information that Anne had passed onto me in regard time management, communication and efficient study skills! Anne had instilled so much confidence in me and so it...

Leabhar Love

Elaine Dunne, Home School Community Liaison, St. Kevin’s BNS, Finglas shares her perspectives on Time to Read This is the 3rd year that the boys in St. Kevin’s B.N.S. in Finglas have been lucky enough to be involved with the Time to Read programme with ESB. In my role I work with the children to create invites to the Time to Read launch and graduation. I link in with the parents during the year to see how their children are finding the experience. I also have accompanied the children on their library trip and workplace visit. Over the past 3 years there has been nothing but positive feedback from both parents and children. Parent’s regularly comment that their child shows a greater interest in reading. Often children take home a book at the end of the reading session to read at home. An increase in the child’s reading fluency is also...

Celebrating 10 years of Partnership

In April, BITCI celebrated the remarkable achievement of 8 companies: Allianz Partners, Elavon, Horse Racing Ireland, IBM, IFS, Investec and Office Depot reaching a milestone of 10 years in partnership with their local school. Building long lasting and transformative partnerships is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals. Keep Reading to hear some reflections from those involved: “The 10 year relationship between Elavon and Glenart College has demonstrated to almost 250 students, in our locality, that Elavon cares about their future; our employees are willing to spend time with them, explaining how business and innovation works. In doing so, we prepare them for life after school, equipping them with a toolkit for success. We encourage and help them to understand how they can build better futures by remaining in education, obtaining employment, helping them become contributors to their families’, and their communities’, success. We have not only enjoyed delivering the programme over 10 years,...

Lionbridge and Time to Read

Lionbridge in Ballina participated in our Time to Read programme. Here you can read an email we received from Paul McBride, Vice President & General Manager of Lionbridge sent to us about their experience. “I’m writing to share my gratitude and enthusiasm for the Time to Read program that’s about to conclude and the overwhelmingly positive effect it’s had on both participants and teams here at Lionbridge Ballina. The return on invested time by participating employees puts that achieved by invested capital to shame! I have experienced the professional and personal growth of our participants through more confident leadership, better decision making, heightened social awareness which when considered individually, are a delight. But when considered together .. wow! I have seen a new cohort of future leaders emerge from the most unexpected of opportunities, the experience gained by our employees from participating in Time to Read, by helping young children...

Time To Read – Business In The Community

Our education programmes on Nationwide
We were featured on Nationwide on RTE 1. Click on the video to hear about both the benefits to the businesses and the students who get involved.