This year more than 750 transition year students are looking forward to taking part in Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Clár na gComhlachtaí, which encourages budding entrepreneurs in the Gaeltacht areas of Cork, Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Meath, Kerry, and Waterford to develop their own mini-enterprises and compete in a national final.
Seán Kyne, Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, officially launched the 2018/19 programme in Coláiste na Coiribe this week, and students from the school were on hand to give a preview of some of the innovative ideas that have emerged so far during this year’s programme.
Clár na gComhlachtaí is a hands-on business learning experience developed and delivered in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI ) and is taught through the Irish language to students attending schools in Gaeltacht regions. The programme is well established in post primary schools in Gaeltacht areas and has grown significantly in participation over recent years. The programme provides numerous opportunities for the development and reinforcement of important academic and leadership skills.
Local business volunteers and development executives from Údarás na Gaeltachta mentor the students alongside their teachers as they move from the idea generation stage, to production, marketing, sales, and finance right through to going to market.
“The entrepreneurial skills and practical business experience developed through Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Clár na gComhlachtaí will no doubt be of long-term benefit to the Gaeltacht as these young people move on and become the heart of the Gaeltacht economy," Minister Kyne said at the launch. "Údarás na Gaeltachta and Junior Achievement Ireland are to be congratulated for continually increasing participation in the programme in all Gaeltacht areas.”
The students will take part in regional finals in March 2019 where they will showcase their finished products at trade stands and be interviewed by a judging panel before pitching their business ideas on stage to a public audience. The regional finals are an opportunity for the students to demonstrate the knowledge gained and the skills acquired in the course of the programme. Successful regional finalists will then progress to a national final in April 2019.
Last year’s national final winner was BOUE, a company from Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal. BOUE developed its own line of skincare products made from moss peat, seaweed, and other natural ingredients.
Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, CEO of Údarás na Gaeltachta, said: “Údarás na Gaeltachta is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in Gaeltacht areas, and we would like to thank Junior Achievement Ireland for their continued partnership in delivering this programme. The Clár na gComhlachtaí programme is an ideal opportunity to instil a sense of entrepreneurship in our younger generations which will lead to an even brighter future for Gaeltacht areas. I would like to wish all the students the best of luck with their projects.”
JAI chief executive Helen Raftery added: “Entrepreneurship education programmes led by role models from outside the school community complement the work of our teachers, and assist in skills development as well as broadening of career possibilities. Thanks to Údarás na Gaeltachta, Clár na gComhlachtaí students in Gaeltacht areas throughout the country will benefit greatly from this real to life entrepreneurial experience.”
Based on research on entrepreneurship education, students participating in Údarás Clár na gComhlachtaí are more likely to start their own business, are at lower risk of being unemployed, and are more often in steady employment into adulthood. These projected outcomes are based on the success schemes around Europe, which incorporate the JA Company Programme, on which the design of Clár na gComhlachtaí is based.