Fourteen “enterprising teens”, ranging in age from 12 to 17, had an audience with the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen when he visited their school in Wicklow yesterday to launch a new teacher resources package to help support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The event was arranged to launch a new teacher resources package – which include a teachers’ manual, student workbook and helpful tips from successful entrepreneurs – aimed at helping to support over 20,000 secondary school students taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme.
Organised and run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, the year-round Student Enterprise Programme is the biggest enterprise education initiative of its kind in the country with students from 620 schools taking part every year across three categories.
The students at Coláiste Chraobh Abhann were given the opportunity at their chinwag with the Minister to demonstrate their products and inventions as part of the Student Enterprise Programme.
The school is home to 17-year-old Luke Byrne, the former National Winner of the Student Enterprise Awards Senior Category with his ‘Headphone Helpers’, an invention that is a silicone band to keep earphones tangle free.
During the visit, the Minister also met other enterprising students from the school, who are either competing in this year’s programme, or who have previously won awards for their enterprises.
“Entrepreneurship is the backbone of our economy and starting to embed this culture at an early age is extremely important,” Minister Breen says.
“This programme, and the new resources that are being launched today, ensures that entrepreneurship becomes a natural option for our young people as they discover their passions.
“We want to nurture Ireland’s future entrepreneurs and business leaders. It is great to see both teachers and entrepreneurs coming together to ensure that this solid base is built into our schools.”
Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices points out: “The success of the Student Enterprise Programme, which is now in its fourteenth year, is that it brings the world of enterprise and education together at grassroots level.
"The new resource packs were designed with the help of both teachers and entrepreneurs, to support and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.
"Thanks to the support of hundreds of schools, principals and teachers throughout the country, the Student Enterprise Programme enables students to explore the world of business, starting in the classroom.”
Shane Eivers, the Principal of Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, spoke about how important enterprise in the classroom has become in recent years. He said: “The challenge of producing the next generation’s entrepreneurs is being met by a vibrant and dynamic Business department and a cohort of enthusiastic students.
"Students are being afforded great opportunities to express their creativity, tenacity and determination while getting real life experience of establishing and running a business.”
At the 2015/2016 National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme in April this year, the Junior Category winners were from St. Oliver Post Primary School in County Meath. Their winning invention was called ‘Amor,’ a modified stirrup tread for horse-riding.
The Intermediate Category, which is open to second and third year students, was won by ‘Inish Wood Working’ from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana from County Donegal for their hand-crafted giftware.
Teacher resource packs are available to secondary schools, free of charge, on a USB key from Local Enterprise Offices and through the www.studententerprise.ie website.