Dublin Monday, 12th May 2014: Volunteer business mentors from top Irish companies, taking part in The Schools’ Business Partnership Mentoring Programme are helping to provide positive role models and drive school completion rates for secondary level students across Ireland. The Student Mentoring Programme, run by Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) partners mainly SCP (School Completion Programme) schools with a local business to give valuable one on one support in encouraging students to stay in school, increasing their self-esteem and developing an awareness of the workplace. The business mentor provides an additional positive adult view on the working world and the opportunities it can present, with participant schools already reporting a significant impact on the student’s self-confidence and in influencing positive attitudes towards the Leaving Certificate examinations. The community based programme is part of BITC’s on-going work to help businesses have a more positive impact on the communities in which they do business and today, 208 students and mentors are being presented with certificates by newly appointed Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D.
Positive role models can help counterbalance the negative influences young people encounter, particularly within peer groups, media, TV, internet and the unrealistic culture of celebrity by influencing a young person’s need to work and contribute to society and developing their aims or dreams in order to better their life chances. My World survey, 2013, the national survey of youth mental health in Ireland, indicates that the single biggest positive influence on teenagers’ development is access to one good adult. For the majority of Irish students, the period between Junior and Leaving Certificate is when they’ll make decisions and choices that will set out their future career path including whether they’ll progress to further or higher education or whether they’ll seek to move directly into the workforce. Many young people who are facing challenging circumstances may find these decisions especially difficult.
The programme pairs employee mentors with a student in their local community in their final two years of education where they spend quality time once a month at the company addressing these decisions. Not just purely business or academic focused, each partnership also arranges a number of outings throughout the year to develop the relationship and bond between the mentors and students with many participants maintaining these unique and strongly supportive relationships beyond completion. Employee volunteers indicate the benefits from participating in the programme include developing their communication, interpersonal, team-building and leadership skills. The programme is further helping the companies engage with their staff.
Commenting on the success of the programme which to date has seen 1, 184 employees give of their time and experience to work directly with almost 1,284 students since the programme began, Germaine Noonan, Programme Manager, Schools Business Partnership, BITCI commented:
“The Mentoring Programme is unique in that it is only open to schools on the Department’s School Completion Programme. It has a proven high success rate at encouraging school completion. Of the students involved in the programme over the last two years only a relatively small number have left school early which is very encouraging considering that these are generally schools which may have a high dropout rate.”
Speaking at the event, Charles Flanagan, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said:
“The awards being presented today recognise the value of innovative collaboration by businesses, government and the not for profit sector in supporting positive outcomes for our young people. I believe that collaborative programmes like the School’s Business Partnership play a pivotal role in young people’s personal and social development, increasing their life-skills and employability.”
Minister Flanagan added:
“The benefits from the partnership of business and education result in rewards for all partners – mentors within the business community, second-level students, their parents and communities. The excellent working relationships that have developed over the years between the Schools Business Partnership, the School Completion Programme, school managements and staff will continue to be built upon to enhance attendance, participation and outcomes at every level of the system.”
Ellen Dorian, Mulroy College, Co. Donegal who was today awarded with a completion certificate stated:
“I have had a great opportunity in having a mentor who has helped me look at every option and opportunity and also helped me to make a decision about what I want to do in the future. With their help and support, I now have the belief that I can do it.”
Businesses that participate in and support the scheme include some of Ireland’s leading companies: KPMG partnered with CBS Westland Row; Diageo partnered with Presentation SS, Warrenmount; Allianz Worldwide Care partnered with St. Dominic’s SS, Ballyfermot; Kraft Foods partnered with Deansrath CC, Clondalkin; Limerick Institute of Technology partnered with St Nessan’s, Limerick; Investec partnered with Marino College, Fairview; Pramerica partnered with Mulroy College, Letterkenny; Irish Life partnered with Patrician College, Finglas; Communicorp partnered with our Lady of Mercy, Drimnagh and Horse Racing Ireland partnered with Curragh Post Primary, Kildare.
The Schools’ Business Partnership is managed by Business in the Community Ireland, a corporate responsibility advisory organisation and is funded under the National Development Plan and The Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
* My World Survey 2013 – A national study of youth mental health in Ireland by Dr Barbara Dooley & Dr Amanda Fitzgerald, UCD School of Psychology in conjunction with Headstrong – the National Centre for Youth Mental Health.
For further information on the programme please contact Germaine Noonan
Pictured above: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charles Flanagan TD with Jamie Ivers, Gillian Marley and Conor Doherty from Mulroy College, Letterkenny. Photo by Jason Clark.