The Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen T.D., met with several enterprising teenagers ahead of the National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme next Wednesday, which is organised and run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) across the country.
Now in its 15th year, an estimated 22, 000 pupils from 620 secondary schools nationwide participated this year. The aim of the LEO-run programme is to develop links between the education system and the real economy, so that school leavers gain the skills and practical knowledge of running a business, enabling more of them to consider self-employment as a future career option.
Having progressed through their local school finals and individual county finals, 200 students aged between 13 and 18 have secured their place at the National Final on May 3rd.
Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will be represented in Croke Park by:
· Junior Category: Sara Hally Doody and Genevieve Seger of business ‘Sarev’ from Loreto Abbey Dalkey.
· Intermediate Category: Sophie Anderson, Clíona Moore and Thérese Reilly of business ‘Eco Close’ from St. Raphaela’s Secondary School
· Senior Category: Carl Cullen, Ross Byrne, Cormac Spain of business ‘ROC Protection’ at Clonkeen College
Minister Breen met with budding entrepreneurs this week to see a remarkable showcase of innovation, such as protective base layers for hurlers (‘ROC Protection’ from Clonkeen College in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown), liquid fertiliser made with seaweed (‘Green Grow’ from Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Sligo), timetable pens for schools (‘Pentables’ from Scariff Community College in Clare), furniture made with recycled engine parts (‘Scott Engine Tables’ from Coláiste Chill Mhaintáin in Wicklow) and a spray to improve the grip on sports equipment (‘GripOn’ from Loreto College in Dublin City).
Minister Breen said: “Entrepreneurship is the backbone of our economy, and embedding this culture at an early age is crucial. This programme is the gateway to ensure that entrepreneurship becomes a natural option for our young people as they discover and develop their talent and business acumen. As Minister for Small Business, I want to nurture Ireland’s future entrepreneurial potential, and it is great to see teachers, young student entrepreneurs and the LEOs coming together to ensure that this starts in the classroom.”
Speaking ahead of the National Final, Georgina Sweetnam, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, wished the local students well and said: “The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are celebrating fifteen years of the Student Enterprise Programme this year and it has already helped over 150,000 students since it started in 2003.The programme begins every September with free resources for teachers and students in local schools. With an increased emphasis in the school curriculum around enterprise in the classroom, we are expecting even more schools and students to take part in the Student Enterprise Programme in the years to come.”
The Local Enterprise Offices have a total prize fund of €9,000 on offer on May 3rd with judging taking place across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories that morning.
At last year’s National Finals, then 16-year-old Luke Byrne from Coláiste Chraobh Abhann in Wicklow took the overall Senior Category for ‘Headphone Helpers’, a wearable silicone band that keeps earphones tangle free. The Intermediate Category was won by Sean Óg Harrigan and Oisín McLaughlin from ‘Inish Woodworking’ of Scoil Mhuire Buncrana in Donegal. The Junior Category top prize went to Emily Finegan, Kate O’ Reilly, Ava Caddan and Mary Freeman of ‘AMOR’ from St. Oliver Post Primary School in Meath for their stirrup guide for horse-riding.
The Local Enterprise Offices are co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.