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Young Enterprise is Evolving

In a world of change, Young Enterprise is evolving. Carol Fitzsimons MBE, CEO, explains how the entrepreneurship charity is adopting new approaches and learning platforms to equip young people for the ‘new normal’ economy.

If ever there was a time when resilience, adaptability and teamwork matter most, this is it.

These are just some of the qualities Young Enterprise Northern Ireland is dedicated to nurturing in our young people, helping prepare the next generation to achieve in a transformed world. No going back to ‘before’. 

The young are amongst the most affected by the pandemic; their schools closed, exams cancelled, learning and relationships disrupted. For students getting ready to enter the workplace or further education, there’s added anxiety. The 18-24 age group has been hardest hit in a contracting economy. An uncertain future awaits, bringing seismic impacts to the jobs market, workplace and society. 

Today, more than ever, our role of equipping young people with the agility and confidence to thrive is critical. Throughout the extended school and university closures, YE has continued to support students and institutions to ensure enterprise education never stops.


Young Enterprise NI launched the #KeepLearning interactive platform, providing free online resources to facilitate home-learning and keep students motivated, active and developing skillsets. Our engaging programmes are easily accessible from home; the ideal format for a generation of digital natives. 

Each activity builds key skills for life and work, spanning the curriculum: planning, creativity, communication, time management, co-operation, flexibility, problem-solving, budgeting and, facing difficulties with a positive, proactive attitude. 

In exceptional times, we can’t underestimate the value of offering continuity of teaching, school activities and interpersonal connections beyond the home. Young Enterprise has turned challenge into opportunity by becoming a major portal for learning. 

Bridging the gap                                                                                                             

Homeschooling has meant more individual, self-led online learning. Partnering with educators, Young Enterprise can support students to recover capabilities in communication and collaboration, and regain momentum to actively re-engage in learning activity. Interactive and collaborate learning projects, such as the Company programme where a student business is created by young people, will support young people to re-engage in learning in an active way. Whether this is in person, or through a blended delivery model. 

Students will return to a changed learning environment.  To make up for the long hiatus, schools are looking at a ‘Recovery Curriculum’ period.  Young Enterprise will have our part to play in facilitating a breadth of learning, particularly in the skills that support resiliency and working with others.  

Enterprise education is transforming to focus on the qualities employers will seek post-pandemic. We have expanded the interactive elements of our digital learning to mirror how companies are engaging during the pandemic. This blended enterprise education curriculum delivery will enable students to learn online and undertake projects with their peers, developing essential competencies.  

New thinking 

Young Enterprise is part of the Junior Achievement global charity which has been asked to join the UNESCO Coalition on education to support countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Global Education Coalition launched by UNESCO seeks to facilitate inclusive learning opportunities for children and youth during this period of sudden and unprecedented educational disruption.

Young Enterprise is well positioned to learn from this experience of its global partners and work with them to develop a new blended support curriculum delivery model to ensure young people get the best opportunity to develop enterprise skills. 

Through unprecedented change, the Young Enterprise mission endures: “Connecting students, teachers, parents and volunteers; a community dedicated to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across Northern Ireland.”

In tough times we owe our young people the best chances for tomorrow. 

Source from Business Eye Magazine

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