90% of at-risk youths in Trinity’s Career LEAP programme remain in employment or education two years after programme

Career LEAP was developed by education experts at Trinity

Photo by Joe McCallion for Trinity News

90% of at-risk young adults who participate in the Career LEAP programme, which was developed by education experts in Trinity, remain in full employment or formal education two years after completion, finds report.

The Career LEAP programme sees double the number of participants in employment or education two years after completion than the international average for similar programmes. The findings were released in a study launched yesterday by Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, at an event in the Central Bank.

The programme is based in Dublin’s north inner city and helps at-risk young adults to build personal, emotional, and cognitive skills. It uses educational and occupational psychology to help young people put these skills to use in the workplace and their personal lives. The programme has worked with almost 40 young people who were not in education, training, or employment at its launch.

Associate Professor in Education at Trinity, Carmel O’Sullivan, led the research team which developed the Career Leap programme. Speaking at last night’s event, O’Sullivan explained that young people can face a “huge challenge” getting their first job due to an increasingly competitive market. “Young people must be ‘work-ready’ if they are to succeed,” said O’Sullivan.

Reflecting on the programme’s success, O’Sullivan noted that Career LEAP “responded to the need for ‘joined-up thinking’” in Dublin’s north inner city. “The report highlights the positive response from businesses and community members in sitting down together to share expertise and resources in an effort to do something collaboratively to solve youth unemployment,” said O’Sullivan.

Career Leap is run in conjunction with East Wall Youth, Swan Youth Services and over 20 businesses in the docklands and city centre area. It provides participants with a two-week training programme and a three-week unpaid work placement in local businesses. The programme uses an interactive and arts-based approach during training to create trusting relationships between everyone involved.

The partnership study was initiated by the Chairperson of East Wall Youth, Marie O’Reilly. Recognising the wider effects of the programme, O’Reilly 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”.

Trinity’s Registrar Professor Paula Murphy expressed College’s pride in the programme and the work of O’Sullivan and her team, noting its value for Trinity, the community, and participants. Murphy explained that the programme demonstrates how “academic expertise and innovative thinking can transform society and enrich lives.”

“It is a great example of what Trinity can achieve by working with community organisations and businesses. In addition, this research report on Career LEAP attests to a strong evidence-based, effective programme that prepares participants for employment,” said Murphy.

The report also showed that the creative and interactive training approach was successful in creating trusting relationships between the participants and business owners and mentors. It also allowed participants to discover personal and professional skills while learning new skills and facilitating their practice.  

Stephen Farnan, a Career LEAP graduate received his certification at the launch. He said the programme helped him learn new things and discover a new ability to “put the work in”. Farnan is now employed full time in Urban Picnic in Facebook, which he noted was “brilliant”.

Eoin Mc Manus, another recipient of the certificate, recognised the skills which it provided him, saying it helped him think outside the box. “I learned how to deal with conflict and how to negotiate in employment. It was insightful hearing the business people share their experience with us and it was mad how some of them dropped out of school but are now in management,” said McManus. “There is hope for everyone.”

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh Law student, and a former Senior Reporter.