Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, joined Coca-Cola HBC at An Cosán’s community education centre in Dublin to celebrate the launch of the 2022 #YouthEmpowered programme. This year’s programme will be delivered in partnership with An Cosán and YouthAction NI to create a pathway to learning and leadership for over 2,000 young people across the island of Ireland.
#YouthEmpowered seeks to bridge the gap in supports for women and disadvantaged youths aged 16 – 30 who are transitioning back to learning or onwards into the workplace. Now in its sixth year #YouthEmpowered has already provided free life and business skills training to more than 5,500 young people across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This year’s programme includes an accredited ‘Return to Learning’ training course in partnership with Ireland’s largest community education organisation, An Cosán. With CSO figures showing that over 60% of young women in Ireland remain unemployed, the #YouthEmpowered courses have been created to help participants build the skills needed to continue in further education or on to employment. The course focuses on learning digital and personal development skills to give young women the tools they need to progress on their pathway to employment over an intensive 6-week period.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development Heather Humphreys TD said: “I’m delighted to be here in An Cosán to officially launch the 2022 #YouthEmpowered programme. This initiative aligns with Government’s Pathways to Work strategy which aims to remove barriers to employment through training and education. It provides a real and tangible example of the private sector working hand in hand with the voluntary sector to support the national shared objective of driving economic growth, promoting inclusion for all and supporting young people into sustainable employment.
“I’d like to congratulate all the learners who are taking the first step towards employment by undertaking this course and I hope that with the guidance of An Cosán and the mentors from Coca-Cola HBC, #YouthEmpowered will be a stepping stone to a new career pathway for you all.”
Miles Karemacher, General Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland went on to say: “It’s a long-term commitment for all of us in Coca-Cola HBC to support young people to build the skills they need to secure future employment and, in the current challenging environment these supports have an even bigger role to play. Over the past six years we have invested €300,000 in youth development. Through our partnerships with An Cosán and YouthAction Northern Ireland, we’re further expanding the reach of our #YouthEmpowered supports. In 2022 we are keen to support those young people, particularly young women, who were significantly impacted by the COVID pandemic. We were delighted to partner with An Cosán to create a clear path to learning and leadership for young people, empowering them in their journey to meaningful employment or education.”
With a shared vision to empower young people left furthest behind, Heydi Foster, CEO An Cosán, continued by saying: “We’re delighted to be part of this year’s Coca-Cola HBC #YouthEmpowered programme, and through the funding provided to be making the ‘Return to Learning’ courses available to more young women in our local community. We know from recent CSO figures that young women are still more likely than their male counterparts to become long term unemployed as a result of the recent COVID-19 disruption. This programme is designed to help participants overcome barriers to education or employment, empowering participants with the skills they need to return to learning and the confidence to reenter the workforce.”
Sarah Jane (26) from Dublin, who has just completed one of the 6-week #YouthEmpowered Return to Learning courses, closed by saying: “I’ve been out of education for over 3 years, and I wanted to better my life for myself and my children. This was the first step. I loved going into class in the mornings and my kids loved going into Early Years, which was a fully funded support service run on-site, so I could just focus on the course work. The whole experience has really increased my confidence and with the skills I’ve learned over the past 6 weeks, I’m hoping now to start a Level 5 Business Administration with Digital Skills course in September.”
In Northern Ireland Coca-Cola HBC is working in partnership with YouthAction Northern Ireland to deliver the #YouthEmpowered ‘Get Set For Work’ project, which aims to directly support 16 – 24-year-olds not in employment, education or training through skills days, career guidance workshops and the #YouthEmpowered Digital Hub. A special ‘Young Women Support Fund’ has also been established.
For more information about the 2022 #YouthEmpowered programme and to get involved visit ie.coca-colahellenic.com.