Cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurship and real life business skills among students in the region
Whilst great strides have been made in the creation of a new high tech sector, and established global companies continue to operate successfully from Kerry, there remains a considerable economic development deficit in Kerry. By sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship within education through the Young Entrepreneur Programme [YEP], and the Junior Entrepreneur Programme we seek to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship and real life business skills a students in the region. The next generation of school leavers and graduates are being prepared to look to the world outside of Ireland, not as somewhere to emigrate to, but somewhere to sell their ideas. Never before has education been so closely engaged with the country’s leading entrepreneurs. YEP & JEP have gained an exceptionally high level of both business and media support for its unique and positive approach. The YEP programme has a combination of specialists in business areas along with leading Entrepreneurs facilitating events. It has received international recognition for its innovative approach to entrepreneurship education and the high level of interaction between students and entrepreneurs. The JEP programme offers interactive lessons, allowing the pupils to use their creativity and ideas to set up their small scale entrepreneurship education project Pupils work in small groups spending. Since 2007 3000 students have completed YEP and since 2010 1100 have completed JEP.
Kerry has a long history of entrepreneurship - in the latter part of the 20th Century a succession of companies were established that would subsequently grow into international success stories. Today Kerry Group, Dairymaster and FEXCO are global leaders in their sectors and continue to find new markets and thrive. Whilst great strides have been made in the creation of a new high tech sector, and established global companies continue to operate successfully from Kerry, there remains a considerable economic development deficit in Kerry. The major job losses in the manufacturing sector over the last 30 years have not been recouped and the unemployment rate in Kerry is consistently higher than the national average. Our track record in attracting Foreign Direct Investment has been particularly poor; Kerry, like many other rural counties and towns, has been by-passed while a small number of urban regions including Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway have developed rapidly. Ireland will continue to attract FDI but the nature of this investment has changed significantly - Ireland is attracting large and increasingly sophisticated investment projects and there is a perception that the necessary infrastructure, support services and business environment is only to be found in cities and large urban centres.
By sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship within education it is hoped that the Young Entrepreneur Programme (YEP) and the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) will cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship and real life business skills among primary, second and third level students in Kerry. YEP which is run through secondary schools, and 3rd level includes classroom learning, mentor support and various events where students have the opportunity to learn from leading entrepreneurs. YEP students identify a business idea, develop a business plan for that idea and go on to fine tune their business plans under the guidance of dedicated mentors. Following submission of final business plans and an examination, the Programme culminates in an awards ceremony. JEP, which is embedded in the principles of the Primary School Curriculum, aims to foster an entrepreneurial culture within 5th & 6th class pupils opening their minds to the joy of entrepreneurship at a time in their lives when they are open to possibilities. Pupils work in small groups spending 10- 12 weeks developing their entrepreneurship education project. The lessons are interactive, allowing the pupils to use their creativity and ideas to set up their small scale entrepreneurship education project.
YEP Video Clip: http://vimeo.com/42197252
JEP Video Clip: http://vimeo.com/2732785
IMPACT ON ECONOMY
The first group of YEP students initiated their third level education in 2010. YEP Alumni aims to ensure a development path exists for each aspiring Kerry Entrepreneur and The YEP Alumni Parameters being investigated include [with appropriate controls in place]:
• Subject selection for the Leaving Certificate [by gender and socioeconomic status];
• Subject performance in the Leaving Certificate [by gender and socioeconomic status];
• Undergraduate programme selection [by gender and socioeconomic status];
• Degree award;
• Career selection [employment in SME, MNC, etc];
• No. of spin outs, jobs created, company valuations
To date we are restricted to qualitative feedback from participating schools including:
• YEP has increased a take up of Business Studies as a Leaving Certificate examinable subject;
• Students who have participated in YEP are more likely to engage better in class in fifth year;
• Students who have participated in YEP have approached their school’s Guidance Counsellor to find out about Business/Entrepreneurship third level programmes;
• In the case of JEP an evaulation completed by all teachers reflected that 100% of teachers felt that participation in the programme was valuable for the pupils and for the school.
IMPACT ON CULTURE
A culture of entrepreneurship is engendered in all young people and their families, such that entrepreneurship is universally seen as a valid and high status career choice. Enterprise education is rolled out across education levels in a sustainable, integral way. All junior and secondary level students are exposed to entrepreneurship early. Since 2007 the collaborative Young Entrepreneur Programme (YEP) between ITT/Shannon Development and entrepreneur/philanthropist Jerry Kennelly has engaged secondary schools and 3rd level students across the county, trained teachers and exposed over 3,000 students to the entrepreneur community. 65% of second level schools in Co. Kerry now participate in the programme. The Junior Entrepreneur Programme, now in its third year, has already been completed by over 1100 primary school pupils in Kerry. This is engendering a culture where entrepreneurship is valued as a career choice and enterprise education is becoming mainstreamed. One in five students in Kerry now study entrepreneurship, more than anywhere else in Ireland. A network of 100+ entrepreneurs nationwide has been established who willingly give their time and commitment to advise and mentor newcomers.
IMPACT ON ECOLOGY
This project does not have direct ecological implications
IMPACT ON POLITICS
The Young Entrepreneur Programme & Junior Entrepreneur are among a range of initiatives developed and delivered by Shannon Development (SD - Regional Development Agency), Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT - third level college) and Dr. Jerry Kennelly (entrepreneur and philanthropist - Tweak.com) to promote entrepreneurship. The aforementioned have collaborated closely to create a shared campus for education and enterprise at Kerry Technology Park (KTP). This unique, green-field development has gained national and international recognition as a role model for the successful integration of business and education and as an excellent environment for start-ups. Inter-agency cooperation and co-ordination arrangements are strong, forming a tight knit community focused on enterprise development.
Enterprise development is integral to the mandates of all the principal development agencies operating in the county, who coordinate through the Kerry Enterprise Action Team. Building on the synergies of the strong ITT / KTP / entrepreneurial community networks, mixing the private with the public sector and strengthening the interagency thought process.