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Business leaders call on industry to help 100,000 young people develop work skills

From left: Lorraine Acheson, Women in Business, Gordon Milligan, IoDNI, Christopher Morrow, NI Chamber, Carol Fitzsimons, Young Enterprise, Colin Jess, Social Enterprise NI, Jenny Moore, CBI and Michael McQuillan, Enterprise NI with pupils from, St Joseph’s Primary School, Carryduff, Down High School, Downpatrick, Bangor Integrated Primary School and Laurelhill Community College, Lisburn.

It’s back to school time and after two years of disruption Young Enterprise is planning a full return to the classroom with the business community aiming to engage 100,000 young people. 

Business leaders from Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, CBI, Women in Business, Social Enterprise NI, and Enterprise Northern Ireland have joined forces with the charity to call on companies across Northern Ireland to support young people in developing employability skills for work. 

Chief Executive of Young Enterprise, Carol Fitzsimons MBE explains:

“Over the last two years we have developed innovative online learning solutions, but we have been restricted in getting business volunteers into the classroom. 

“This generation has had its education disrupted, particularly in terms of skills development, and we are hearing from employers that many young people have anxieties about entering the workforce as a result.

“We need business supporters and volunteers to help us address this emerging issue by bringing the reality of the skills needed for work in the modern economy into the classroom. 

“We know the experience of hearing directly from people in the world of work is highly valued, so we’re excited to welcome business volunteers back as part of our programmes. Our aim is to engage with 100,000 young people this year, and that is only possible with support from business community.”

The charity is echoing the Department for the Economy’s 10X skills strategy and skills barometer in emphasising the need for the entrepreneurial skills, such as innovation and creative thinking.

Representatives from business organisations have come together to support the call for businesses to get into back into school in the new term. 

Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director said:

“Connecting with business makes a real and significant difference to young people’s life chances, and it’s something every firm can do. On all counts, it’s time to step up”

Colin Jess, Director of Social Enterprise NI commented:

“Now more than ever it is so important that young people have the opportunity to learn new skills and to develop these across as many disciplines as possible to enable them to be successful in the workplace.”

Lorraine Acheson, Managing Director of Women in Business NI added:

“I’m delighted that the business community will be returning to face-to-face interactions with schools and recognise the positive impact of this method of delivery.”

Gordon Milligan, Chairman of Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland said:

“I will be encouraging our IoD members to be generous with their time, skills and experience to ensure we build strong foundations for young people who are the next generation of business leaders.”

Michael McQuillan, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI commented: 

“It is essential if we are to achieve our 10x ambition that we have an increased pipeline of young people ready and encouraged to embrace an entrepreneurial future.”

Christopher Morrow, Head of Communications and Engagement at Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry concluded:

“Developing entrepreneurial and business skills early is really important. In Northern Ireland, there is a particular need to promote STEM skills among school-age children, which will encourage them to consider future study and careers in these high-growth areas.”

To get involved, contact Jan Donaldson on 028 9026 7103 e-mail or visit

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