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Participants in Business in the Community Ireland’s Mentoring Program Receive Completion Certificates

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan recently presented completion certificates to 208 students and mentors in the Business in the Community Ireland’s (BITCI) mentoring programme and commended them for helping to improve school completion rates for secondary-level students throughout Ireland, especially SCP (School Completion Programme) schools.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D. (left) and John Everett, senior progr ...

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D. (left) and John Everett, senior programmer, Pramerica (right) join BITCI participant Gillian Marley as she accepts her completion certificate.(Photo: Business Wire)

“We congratulate the students and mentors for the considerable results they have achieved,” said Flanagan. “The success of this programme proves the value of innovative collaboration by businesses, government and non-profit organizations in support of positive outcomes for our young people. I believe programmes such as these play a pivotal role in young people’s personal and social development, increasing their life skills and employability.”

Employees from top Irish companies, including Pramerica Systems Ireland, a software and contact centre subsidiary of U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Inc.* located in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, have been volunteering as mentors with BITCI’s Schools’ Business Partnership Mentoring Programme since it was launched in October 2012. The mentors serve as positive role models who help boost students’ self-esteem and encourage them to stay in school. In addition, they give the students a more positive view of the workplace and the opportunities it offers.

“The Mentoring Programme has a proven high success rate at encouraging school completion,” said Germaine Noonan, Programme Manager, Schools Business Partnership, BITCI, noting that participant schools, are reporting a significant improvement in students’ self-confidence and their attitudes towards completing the Leaving Certificate examinations.. Very few of these students have stopped attending school, which is very encouraging because these are generally schools that have a high dropout rate,” said Noonan.

According to My World survey, 2013,** the national survey of youth mental health in Ireland, the single biggest positive influence on teenagers’ development is access to one good adult role model. The report also pointed out that for the majority of Irish students, the period between Junior and Leaving Certificate is a time when students make decisions and choices that pave their future career paths, including whether they progress to higher education or whether directly enter the workforce. It added that many young people are facing challenging circumstances that make these decisions especially difficult.

The programme matches employee mentors with students in their local communities during the students’ final two years of education. The pair meet at least once a month at the employee’s workplace and they also spend time together at a number of outings throughout the year to create a bond outside of the business or academic arena that can be maintained beyond school completion. Since the program was launched, more than 1,000 mentoring pairs have participated in the programme.

Ellen Dorian, currently a student at Mulroy College, Co. Donegal, said, “I had a great mentor who helped me look at every option so I could make an informed decision about what I want to do in the future. “Thanks to her support, I now believe in my ability to be successful in the future.”

Michelle McLaughlin, a recruitment specialist at Pramerica said, “It’s gratifying to see these young people begin to believe in themselves. And I have also benefited from the programme – it has helped me strengthen my communication, interpersonal, team-building and leadership skills.”

In addition to Pramerica, other businesses that participate in the programme include KPMG, Diageo, Allianz Worldwide Care, Kraft, Limerick Institute of Technology, Investec, Irish Life, Communicorp and Horseracing Ireland.

Business in the Community Ireland, founded in 2000, is a unique movement of companies committed to corporate responsibility activities. Our purpose is to inspire, challenge and support business by continually improving its positive impact on society in the community, environment, marketplace and workplace.

Pramerica Systems Ireland provides essential computer-technology and client-contact services to PFI businesses around the world. Its Information Technology Group develops software and other systems solutions for PFI business groups and its Operations Group functions as a back-office contact centre for PFI business group. The Great Place to Work Institute Ireland has named Pramerica one of the best companies to work for in Ireland. For more information, visit www.pramerica.ie.

*Prudential Financial, Inc. of the United States is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential plc, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom.

** 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.

Editor’s Notes

  • Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), founded in 2000, is a unique movement of companies committed to Corporate Responsibility practices. Our purpose is to inspire, challenge and support business in continually improving its positive impact on society in the community, environment, marketplace and workplace.
  • Established in 2001, The Schools’ Business Partnership (SBP) is a flagship programme managed by Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). It is conducted in association with Marks & Spencer and supported by Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd. and Bord Gáis.
  • SBP Programmes offered include:

(a) The Student Mentoring Programme encourages students who are at risk of leaving school early to continue with their studies with the advice of a mentor at a local business. The students meet their mentors at their workplace for an hour every 3 weeks for the final two years of their post primary schooling. Mentors provide support in terms of discussing career options, networking on their behalf, researching college choices, etc.

(b) The Skills @ Work programme involves employees from local businesses talking to students about real-life skills required in the workplace. The students attend site visits, ‘day in the life’ talks, interview preparation and CV writing. They also benefit from mock interviews.

(c) The Management Excellence for Principals programme sponsored by Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd. facilitates skills sharing between business and school leaders. 542 Principals have participated, which represents just over 70% of all post primary principals in Ireland. Companies whose senior executives deliver these seminars to small groups of principals include: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Vistakon, Centocor, Donegal Investment Group, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, KPMG, Coillte, National Irish Bank, Diageo, An Post, Anglo Irish Bank, Vhi, élan, One Direct, CRH, Allergan, RTE, Pramerica, Alza, ESB, Intel, The Kerryman, Musgraves, IMI and IBM.

(d) The Management Excellence for Teachers programme receives funding from the Department of Education & Skills and the business contribution is expertise and time. Business leaders provide workshop/seminars to whole teaching staffs on topics identified by the teachers such as: teamwork, communication skills, flexibility skills; PR; time management skills; ICT and education; etc.

(f) The “Time to Read” programme sponsored by ESB is signalling considerable impacts & success in the area of childhood literacy. Employees from companies provide reading support to a child with the aim of increasing the enjoyment and confidence of reading and encourage self-discovery. Officially launched in December 2013, the programme is having proven effects on employee engagement.

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