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 the programme and why their employees describe it as a “breath of fresh air”.

Sadie explained it was the community based aspect of Skills @ Work that initially appealed to them;

“The programme was the perfect platform for Communicorp Media as we sought to be more involved with the community in a meaningful and ongoing way. The programme allowed us to include a large number of work colleagues who wanted to be involved in a project that gave back to the community.”

She also acknowledged the programme easily fits in with their business demands;

“This programme best suited the nature of our business, and working with the BITCI Coordinator and the school, made it possible to put a plan in place that would be the most engaging for the 20 Transition Year students of Our Lady of Mercy secondary school and would also fit around our work schedule.”

When asked what Communicorp Media in particular offered students, Sadie said that they aim to show them first-hand the many options available to them after school if they work for it;

“The students get to see the many careers within a radio station including on air broadcasting, production, research, sales, technical, marketing, social media etc. They see career opportunities that they had never considered and our volunteers share their own personal, educational and career paths with emphasis on hard work, persistence and resilience being the key to success.”

Communicorp Media aims to fully immerse students into their workplace by introducing them to professionals in the various departments and even creating their own radio commercial;

“To ensure that the students are fully engaged in the programme, we run a workshop where they learn how to make a radio commercial.  The students break into teams to write and record a radio ad.  From this, the students learn to work in teams, think creatively, work to client objectives and meet deadlines.  They also gain in confidence as they have to move out of their comfort zone when recording the commercial.  It is very fulfilling to hear them laughing and sharing their studio recording experiences and telling the teams who have yet to record that, “not to worry that they will really enjoy it”. And to up the ante, the winning commercial will air on one of our radio stations and this results in highly competitive team entries.”

The BITCI education programmes place huge importance on company benefits and volunteer enjoyment. We asked Sadie what she sees as the main benefits Communicorp have seen as a result of being involved with Skills @ Work she commented;

“Working on this project has been very rewarding for us as it’s wonderful to see the students confidence grow and hope that we, in some way had a part to play in encouraging them to do well in school and to give some thought and direction for their future careers. It has instilled a sense of pride in the company for facilitating this programme, and especially of colleagues who give freely of their time and really care about the students. You get to see the best in the people you work with. While visiting the live on air studio, the students are always interested and keen to ask questions, prompting one of the presenters to say “The students are like a breath of fresh air in the station.” We feel very privileged to get to know and work with the students of Our Lady of Mercy SS.”