Gen Y leading the way out of the financial crisis
We have seen the global financial crisis affect all economies around the world to varying degrees, but it has been especially severe in some European countries such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland. In Spain we see the youth unemployment rates at almost 50%, and in Portugal we hear the news that the Education budget will be cut 8% (600 million euros less than this year). Ireland has experienced a drastic downturn from their “Celtic Tiger” days with a 21% GDP decline since 2007, and 14% unemployment rate. As the international year of youth ends, we clearly still need to keep focus on new and dynamic ways to engage young people in the labour market.
Amid all this news of doom-and-gloom, comes an amazing story of hope for the future from a team of entrepreneurial students in Ireland who believed their ideas and hard work could not only shape their own destinies, but also make a sustainable difference in the world they live in.
Challenging the norms of conventional work experience, 4 students studying at IT Sligo in the remote northwest of Ireland – James McNamara, Aíne Conaghan, Matthew Padden and Calum Cawley decided to form Team Hermes to build a solution that addresses the issue of road safety in their community. They created a small device that plugs into the dashboard of the car and monitors the driver, beeping if the car is driven in an unsafe way or to warn of a dangerous road. Under the theme of ‘Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems’, they entered their project into Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition.
Speaking here themselves of the skills that set them apart from the rest and the shifting job profiles in the labour market!
Among the 358,000 students representing 183 countries who participated, they walked away with the 1st place prize! The Hermes project, and others like it – dreamed up and built by students, represents the building blocks for the new economy in Europe – promoting entrepreneurship, creating job opportunities, spurring investment, and fostering 21st century skills. As part of the Imagine Cup competition, Microsoft launched a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help students get their ideas off the ground and turn them into real businesses. Business engagement in education is crucial where engaging, informing, and empowering young people, through cross-border projects and connection to the global marketplace, can drive change and shape the future of our global economy. Guidance for sustained action in the arena of academic/industry partnerships is framed by the European Commission’s EU2020 flagship ‘Youth on the Move’ which is putting young people’s print on the new world of work.