Microsoft Ireland and Junior Achievement Partner on ‘Career Ready’ Initiative

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Programme designed to bring TY Students through an 18 month employability programme

Students from three schools in West Dublin have embarked on a unique work readiness initiative delivered by Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) with the support of Microsoft Ireland. To mark the beginning of the 18 month ‘Career Ready’ programme students from Griffeen Community College, Lucan; Deansrath Community College, Clondalkin, and St. Kevin’s Community College, Clondalkin were joined by their Microsoft Ireland business mentors at a special virtual launch event last week.

Some of the Microsoft mentors and student during the virtual launch of Career Ready

The Career Ready programme is managed by JAI to enable specially-selected senior cycle students to complete a range of activities designed to increase their skills and improve their confidence. Each student enjoys the opportunity to work with a Microsoft Ireland business mentor for 18 months, visiting workplaces, attending masterclasses, and completing work placements. The overall objectives of ‘Career Ready’ are to help students to recognise their potential, develop and increase their employability skills, support their academic endeavours, and introduce them to the world of work.

Nicola Connolly-Byrne was an inspirational guest speaker for students

During the virtual launch event, students and mentors were joined by guest speaker Nicola Connolly-Byrne, Empowerment Specialist and Founder of I AM Positive Mindset. Nicola connected directly with the students about belonging in every room, finding their tribe and taking responsibility for their own words and actions.

Further to the launch, each of the participating students had their first meeting with their mentor from Microsoft Ireland.

Students and mentors had the opportunity to get to know each other in MS Teams breakout rooms

Speaking about the initiative, James O’Connor, Vice President of Microsoft Business Operations International and JAI Board Member, said: “Microsoft is thrilled to partner with Junior Achievement Ireland on the delivery of the Career Ready programme. Mentoring is vital at all stages of life and throughout my career has helped me to successfully navigate career aspirations, challenging situations and achieve my career goals.

“It’s great that technology is enabling us to proceed with the programme despite current challenges. While it will remain virtual for the time being, we will hopefully be able to have in person sessions in the not-too-distant future. I wish all the students on the programme the best of luck and hope that they take full advantage of the initiative and their access to Microsoft Ireland mentors over the coming 18 months.”

James O’Connor, Vice President of Microsoft Business Operations International, speaks to Career Ready students and mentors

Marie Hickey, Transition Year Head at St. Kevin’s Community College commented on her school’s participation: “St. Kevin’s Community College is delighted to participate in Career Ready and appreciates the incredible set of opportunities this initiative provides for our students. Forging close relationships with business mentors from Microsoft and enjoying masterclasses and workshops in the workplace will have a significant impact on our students. Thank you to Microsoft for helping to empower our students to realise their potential.”

On behalf of JAI CEO Helen Raftery closed the event, saying: “Research shows that working with ‘real-world’ volunteers helps young people to see the relevance of their academic studies to their everyday lives, which is a vital factor in persuading them to stay in school, take full advantage of their education and maximise their potential. Microsoft’s support for Career Ready, and the impact of their role models mentors, will ensure participating students become enterprising individuals who have the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to achieve the goals they set for themselves.”

Students and mentors took the time to introduce themselves, taking part in an icebreaker and scheduling their first student-mentor meeting
Just some of the Microsoft mentors participating in the Career Ready initiative