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The Evolution of YE Academy

Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise NI, charts the International pedigree behind the YE Academy, delivering enterprise education directly to young people all over Northern Ireland.

Berlin, October 2019: The days of travel and international conferences. 300 international delegates. Where to sit? I sat down next to Alison Gottsch-Walton, a decision I’ve rejoiced in over the last year. Call it destiny, fate, serendipity or chance, I got lucky. Over the next 3 days, Alison and I discussed the new project she was working on – a pilot Learning Management System (LMS), allowing students and educators to access enterprise education directly. She introduced me to Alex from Romania and Hala from Bahrain who had been involved in the initial testing.

The conference was to celebrate 100 years of Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise. Over 300 delegates from the global not-for-profit network that today serves more than 12 million young people in over 100 countries. An opportunity to look back on 100 years of achievement and more importantly plan for the next 100 years. An opportunity to share pilot work from other nations. An opportunity to connect with each other. 

I brought the LMS idea back and we tested it out. A good idea for the future. Maybe one day. We understood the potential but realised the investment of time needed for system development to make it worthwhile. Maybe it wasn’t our time yet.

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Belfast, March 2020: Schools closed. We were not the first country it happened to. There had been time to plan. We had watched our colleagues in Italy adapt as Covid-19 hit and had prepared basic online activities which launched the day schools closed. A quick fix. The requirement of an LMS to be able to manage and scale more sophisticated content became immediately clear. The Board quickly gave the green light to for the investment, I gave Alison a call and we had our logins. We were ready to build our own system the only way we know how – ‘learning by doing’ – the Young Enterprise motto…


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