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Catalyst launches new inclusive innovation programme to support young people in their path to employment

Catalyst has today announced the launch of a new inclusive innovation skills programme designed to help young people in Northern Ireland access […]

May 10, 2023

Catalyst has today announced the launch of a new inclusive innovation skills programme designed to help young people in Northern Ireland access training, build their entrepreneurship skillset and get a real-world work experience.

The ‘Innovation for All’ programme will be funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and delivered by Catalyst in partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and seven local youth organisations.

In year one of the programme two cohorts of 15 young people in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry will gain leadership qualifications and receive training in creative problem solving, design thinking and entrepreneurial thinking, alongside tailored work experience within a technology ecosystem that will improve their employability.

Catalyst unveiled the project this morning at its annual stakeholder meeting, where a year ago it launched a new vision with a focus on opportunity for all from world-leading innovation.

Adrian Johnston, Catalyst’s Director of Strategic Business Development, said: “We’re hoping this is the programme that breaks the mould when it comes to accessibility to employment for young people in Northern Ireland.

“We want to reach young people across a diverse range of communities, but we can’t do this alone. We need to do that with key partners, so this programme has been co-designed with local youth organisations and stakeholders that share our vision. They have consulted how best we can enable our network to remove barriers and create pathways to opportunity for the young people they work with.”

Ellvena Graham, Catalyst’s Chairman said: “Catalyst has a brilliant network that includes every type of business, from innovative start-ups to globally recognised companies. These organisations have the ability to give young people the skills they will need for the world of work, whether that’s in employment or to become an entrepreneur themselves.

“We believe there’s a real need for a programme that provides this opportunity and we hope that we will be able to expand the programme so it can be offered to young people from all council areas in Northern Ireland in future.”

Paddy Harte, IFI Chair added: “The IFI is committed to delivering support to communities who feel that the Peace Process hasn’t delivered for them. Through our unique Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP), we are able to engage successfully with those furthest away from education. Collaborating with organisations such as Catalyst enable us to ensure that we can instil confidence, encourage entrepreneurship, and help create positive role models for the future.”

Catalyst will deliver the new programme in partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation alongside Long Tower Youth Club, St Mary’s Youth Club, Monkstown Boxing Club, YMCA Ireland, Holywood Family Trust, St Columb’s Park House and St Peter’s Immaculata Youth Centre.

The programme will also be monitored by a reference group consisting of representatives from Belfast City Council, Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Education Authority, and the Department of Justice.

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