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‘Generation Innovation’; the unique work experience programme for students, delivered by Catalyst, the organisation focused on fostering innovation and developing entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland - has just finished delivering its programme for 2021. Despite the obstacles that come with delivering work experience virtually; this year’s programme has seen nearly 400 students work with more than 20 local businesses over a three week period in May of this year to gain valuable insights and experience in to the world of work.
Given its scale and success now in year three, we thought it was timely to understand how Generation Innovation evolved and how Deloitte and Catalyst have worked together to develop it to its current scale.
As an organisation, Deloitte is fully committed to the future success of Northern Ireland and recognises the need to support organisations such as Catalyst that exist to help grow Northern Ireland’s economy.
To that end, Deloitte and Catalyst created a ‘A Night of Ambition’ back in 2014; a yearly event that, took part in St George’s market in Belfast until 2018, where through interactive demonstration sessions and an ‘innovation marketplace’ which included different businesses showcasing their offerings, students were encouraged to ‘aim higher, succeed faster and push what’s possible’.
It was a popular format with students and was well received. As it grew and developed and Deloitte’s insights into the Future of Work strategy evolved, the team at Deloitte and Catalyst realised that the event could offer a more holistic experience to equip students with the deeper level of understanding about career choices.
That, combined with the fact that there was a lack of quality work experience for students across NI, meant that there was a gap in the market for a revamped programme that allowed students to gain valuable insights into the world of work in order they could make informed decisions about careers choices.
The team at Deloitte and Catalyst worked together to see how they could scale and grow ‘A night of Ambition’. The team were aware that to grow and sustain Northern Ireland’s economy, more young people needed to be encouraged to consider and enter into technical and IT roles. A fourth industrial revolution is underway and studies undertaken by Deloitte on 'the future of the workplace' all point towards the need to have more people skilled in these areas.
After some planning, ‘Generation Innovation’ was born whereby students would attend a unique week-long work experience programme that would offer them valuable, real life skills and enable them to make informed decisions around their future careers. Students from across N.I were placed in teams and paired with a company partner. The students armed with a company challenge statement were trained in Design Thinking with the aim of pitching their solution to the company senior management
Now in its third year and having completed its largest cohort of students to date, whilst adapting to a virtual setting, the programme has proven to be a huge success.
Roisin Finnegan who leads Deloitte Ventures in Northern Ireland commented:
“Deloitte and Catalyst fully realise that people are the most vital component in shaping a country and an economy which is why ‘Generation Innovation’ and its success has been particularly gratifying to see."
“Through this programme, more young people will understand what local companies have to offer them in terms of a careers, and more importantly they will realise the skills that they will need to forge a career in that area. Deloitte is thrilled to have been a part of helping to create ‘Generation Innovation’ and is looking forward to continuing to support the programme and seeing it grow and develop as it helps more and more students make informed career choices in Northern Ireland.”
Roisin leads Deloitte Ventures in NI. Targeting business growth via venturing internally and externally with our people and clients. Her main focus areas include working with disruptive technologies, start-ups and committed to changing mindsets.