Helping unemployed adults in Dublin’s North Inner City transition to employment

13 November 2017

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, launched a research report on ‘Career LEAP’ a pioneering programme to help young unemployed adults in Dublin’s North Inner City transition to employment last week [November 9th]. Minister Donohoe also presented the young adults with certificates of participation as part of the launch.

‘Career LEAP’ (Local Employment Action Partnership) is an innovative educational intervention to help at-risk young adults aged 18-24 develop the personal, social, emotional and cognitive skills necessary for developing career identity and work-readiness. It includes a two-week training programme, followed by a three-week unpaid work placement offered by local businesses. Training is provided to all participants: the young adults, the business partners, community and youth workers. The findings of the study have implications for policy and practice in the area of youth employability and training approaches for young adults who face multiple barriers to transitioning to employment.

Eleven young people successfully completed the first programme in 2016 and one year later, ten are still in employment or education. A second cohort of young people have just completed the 2017 programme and four of the thirteen participants have already secured employment.

Minister Donohoe presented the young adults with certificates of participation at the launch. He also awarded community workers and mentors from the participating businesses, who received training as part of the programme, with CPD certificates.

Minister Donohoe congratulated all participants on their achievement: “This is a great achievement for all the young people who participated on this training programme.  Your determination and commitment is to be commended and clearly has borne real results in terms of employment. I wish you every future success.  The Career Leap programme provides a valuable route into the rewarding and fulfilling world of employment as well as education. I am delighted to be able to announce that it will now be rolled out as an integrated youth development and employability programme by the Taoiseach’s Task Force in the North Inner City in 2018. It will also be rolled out regionally and nationally through the City of Dublin Education and Training Board for young people who face severe challenges in accessing education, training and employment opportunities.”

The research led programme was developed by Trinity College Dublin’s Professor Carmel O’Sullivan in conjunction with East Wall Youth, Swan Youth Service, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), and with 25 prominent businesses in the area.

Key findings of the research report include:

  • 15 months after completing the programme, over 90% of participants are still in employment or education (FE and HE courses).
  • Over 90% had secured employment within 3 months of completing the programme.

6 were homeless when they started the programme. Fifteen months later, 2 remain homeless: 1 is working full time, and 1 is in education; both are continuing to engage with the Career LEAP Youth Employment Worker.

  • Most participants had extremely limited prior experiences of working, despite having tried to get experience.
  • All participants wanted a job but had very little idea of what their career values and career strengths were, and what careers might suit them. All responded positively to the opportunity to reflect on their own skills, career interests and values, through the active and social learning approaches in the modules.
  • Greater work on resilience is required and programmes engaging young adults with complex needs, must engage with their family networks. The impact of family health and stability proved significant.
  • The training programme built confidence, was impactful, and was challenging for participants.

The partnership model was excellent from the perspective of the participants who had exposure to high quality training and trainers, and meaningful engagement with members of the local business community who came in and worked with them every day.

  • The programme created a positive energy in the north east inner city with young people, youth and community workers and business organisations talking about it, and expressing a keen interest in being involved in the next round. The model of joined up thinking ensured that the young adults were appropriately prepared to succeed in their placements.
  • The study revealed that most work-readiness programmes internationally do not focus on the development of young people’s personal and social skills, focusing almost exclusively on the domain of workplace competencies. The development of career competencies in the first week of Career LEAP proved highly successful in building up the participants’ social skills and confidence, with increased confidence being reported by over 70% of respondents as a key change in their behaviours.

Findings from the research report highlighted the success of this integrated model, which makes available a 10 module training manual and associated participant handbooks and resources, via the CareerLeap website, provided under licence through Trinity College.

Career LEAP graduate, Lauren Keogh, who received her certificate of participation at the launch, said: “Career LEAP brought me out of my comfort zone and I have so much more confidence in myself. I now have my first job from doing Career LEAP and have met so many great people".

Dylan Joyce, also a 2017 graduate, said: “My placement was amazing and everything that I wanted. I got the opportunity to get experience in the career I want”.

Trinity Vice-Provost/Chief Academic Officer, Prof Chris Morash said: “Career LEAP starts with the recognition that being prepared to work is no longer enough. Young adults, often lack the social skills, higher order thinking skills, and self-management skills necessary for the workplace. The Career LEAP programme is designed to combat these career development and employability problems, with a focus on unemployed young adults who may lack work experience and educational qualifications”.

Commenting on the programme, Professor Carmel O’Sullivan said: “The results are very satisfactory, with follow up data after 15 months showing that over 90% of young adults who completed the full programme are working full time, or in full time education whilst also working part time. Working with an outstanding educational psychologist (Dr Jennifer Symonds, UCD) and an internationally renowned occupational psychologist (Dr Jos Akkermans, VU Amsterdam), has allowed the creation of a highly effective model which develops the person and their ‘soft’ skills first and foremost, before exploring workplace competencies. The results compare very favourably with data similar studies in other countries. We are delighted with plans to roll out the model in the north east inner city in 2018 under the auspices of the Taoiseach’s Task Force in that area”.

Chairperson of East Wall Youth, Marie O’Reilly who initiated the partnership study said: “The impact of Career LEAP on the youth services and the wider community has been very positive. It has helped the community understand the needs of young people and their commitment to a new and innovative way of learning. The need for joined up thinking and joined up practice when working with young people and the necessity of community led initiatives and projects which involve communities as equal partners, is essential. This study has shown that their knowledge on the ground of the realities of young people’s lives and the challenges that some of them face has to be incorporated into any future initiatives when targeting work readiness schemes for the people involved “

The programme was funded by the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB), the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and a number of local businesses. It was conducted in the offices of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, the Liffey Trust, East Wall Youth and Trinity College.

Minister Donohoe joined by students, community partners and  Prof O'Sullivan.

Media Contact

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, College Press Officer | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 2310 / +353 87 995 8014 (out of office hours)

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