Setting up a company teaches students vital skills

Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) pupils Daniel Elmes and KatieMcMeekin with JEP founder Jerry Kennelly and Martin Hamilton ofMash Direct. Picture: Brian Morrison

Learning to set up and run their own companies has also helped budding young business people improve at reading, maths, science, and other subjects.

More than 10,000 primary pupils took part last year in the Junior Entrepreneurship Programme, setting up, managing, and selling products and services in their local communities.

They generated average profits equivalent of €50 for each pupil involved, many reinvesting their returns or donating them to charity.

Their teachers have revealed that, as well as developing a business sense, the projects also boost other aspects of the curriculum. With almost half the businesses created by pupils falling under the arts, craft, and design category, visual arts was one of the many subject areas in which teachers integrated the work.

From the responses of more than 360 teachers at some of the 412 schools taking part over the past year, it emerged that maths and science were the subjects most supported by the Junior Entrepreneurship Programme.

English and literacy skills came a close second, with social, personal, and health education and the teaching and learning of IT also being enhanced by their participation.

Two thirds of teachers said communication and team-work skills improved, and 87% saw children’s confidence increase.

“Introducing children to entrepreneurship and creating a ‘can do’ culture from an early age not only helps with self-esteem and personal development, but it also enables students to better understand subject choices and make career decisions at second-level,” said programme co-founder Jerry Kennelly.

The successful Kerry businessman has enlisted counterparts to partner with schools in their own counties, offering the skills and advice of themselves and their staff to the pupils. He is also hoping to sign up new entrepreneurs and additional primary schools to get on board for the coming school terms.

As well as arts and design, food and drink businesses were also popular, as were printing and publishing. The programme is supported by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, helping teachers align projects to different aspects of the primary curriculum.


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