More than 650 young people across Northern Ireland have taken part in Catalyst’s innovative work experience programme, Generation Innovation, gaining exposure to some of the region’s most innovative employers.
Generation Innovation is a unique, future-focused work experience programme for 17-18-year-olds designed to empower, enable, and upskill them for the workplace of tomorrow and set them up to thrive as new leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.
Through Generation Innovation, young people gain real-world working experience with some of the best known and most exciting companies in Northern Ireland, which this year included the likes of FinTrU, Automated Intelligence, Citi, and Artemis Technologies.
The programme saw over 650 young people take part across Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Dungannon, the highest number of participants since Generation Innovation was established in 2018.
Over the course of four-day or five-day programmes, young people had to work together to solve a real-life company challenge, develop a solution and pitch the idea to the partner company and their peers.
Some innovative ideas from this year include a new helmet product line using Vikela Armour’s defense systems body armour material, an app to enhance staff wellbeing and community in a hybrid working environment, and a close contact sustainability rewards system to reduce lab waste.
Judith Camblin, Generation Innovation Programme Manager at Catalyst, said: “Since the beginning of Generation Innovation five years ago, we have never had so many young people eager to take part in this unique programme. The standard of applicants was extremely high this year and the ideas generated showed real innovation and creativity.
“The teams across all locations were keen to learn new skills, work together and create solutions to real-life problems which was thrilling to see. The feedback we have received so far has been very positive with new friends and connections made, while also learning valuable skills for the future.”
Danny Hazley, a Generation Innovation participant, said: “The Generation Innovation programme was better than I could have imagined. I learned so many new skills and met so many people with the same passion for innovation that I have.
“Pitching our idea to a well-known company was an amazing experience which will stay with me in my future career. I would recommend this work experience programme to anyone who is thinking about it, you’re guaranteed to gain new skills in a fun way and make new friends along the way.”
Generation Innovation was supported by 38 partners this year, including headline partners EY,
Bank of Ireland and Dawson Andrews. The partner companies helped young people discover new career opportunities and set them challenges to solve complex problems.
Visit www.generationinnovation.co for information on how to apply for Generation Innovation 2024.
The Department for the Economy is the principal funder of Generation Innovation.