Youth Academy

Youth Academy Overview

Project stage: Making the Case

The problem: Many unemployed young people from areas that have higher than average levels of unemployment, low educational qualifications and unskilled backgrounds, are heading towards long-term unemployment. The rapidly changing nature of the job market and the economy, as well as the need for innovative solutions to complex problems, requires young people to have future skills and the ability to challenge assumptions, redefine problems and design creative responses to address issues. However, many young people may not have access to these skills or opportunities to develop them, which can hinder their ability to navigate an uncertain future, solve problems, and make a positive impact in their communities. Therefore, the need to provide young people with access to future skills, like critical thinking and problem solving is a priority issue to address.

Target Group: Unemployed marginalised youth (18-24) from disadvantaged areas, with little or no employment history. They come from a background of generational unemployment, are disengaged from the workforce and lack the skills and confidence necessary to gain employment.

Geographic Areas: Dublin, Northern Ireland.

Partners: Youthreach.

Solution: Provision of Youth Academy Programme (YAP), a 10-week creative skills programme for marginalised unemployed youth (18-24) that develops skills in design thinking and project management plus relationship building, problem solving and entrepreneurship – facilitating transferable skills that are highly prized by employers.

Funders: Ulster Bank, ESB, Dublin Bus, Prince’s Trust NI.

Changes made:  Participants are empowered to discover their potentials and abilities and better equip themselves for employment. Using a design thinking approach, the focus is on capacity building to help them into the workforce, self-employment or on to further education.

What people said:

“Our students come from a place where their education journey has been interrupted, often through no fault of their own. Their confidence and self-esteem levels can be very low and there is always a degree of trepidation for them when they begin a project like this. For me, the real value is when I see at the end of the 10-week programme how their confidence has been built up and how their strengths have been developed. The work they produce at the end of the programme is always of a very high standard”.  Lionel Duffy, Ballymun Youthreach Coordinator.

“When I started on the programme, I didn’t think we’d come this far. I think we’ve started to get out of our comfort zone to do a lot of things, especially for our future.”  Programme Participant.

Next step: Scaling the programme. YAP supports the National Youth Council of Ireland’s (NYCI) STEAM Engagement Programme that assists Youthreach centres across Ireland to design and deliver cutting-edge STEAM education. We are working with Youthreach to have YAP developed as a QQI module for the STEAM Engagement programme which can be ramped out across several YR centres around the country.

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities