Friday 19 July 2019

#YouthEmpowered: The new initiative giving young people the skills they need to succeed

Acclaimed musician, song writer and actor Ryan O’Shaughnessy with guitar is joined by young people from Dublin Inner City and Belfast City in Temple Bar at the launch of #YouthEmpowered 2018. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
Acclaimed musician, song writer and actor Ryan O’Shaughnessy with guitar is joined by young people from Dublin Inner City and Belfast City in Temple Bar at the launch of #YouthEmpowered 2018. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company has launched #YouthEmpowered to provide the younger generation with essential business and life skills. Here we take a look at what the programme involves.

What is #YouthEmpowered?

As a company, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC), consistently demonstrates its commitment to communities. Using its marketplace position for the greater good, Coca-Cola HBC, the leading bottling partner to the Coca-Cola Company, leverages its status and funds to support worthwhile causes all around the world.

It was in that spirit of giving back that Coca-Cola HBC has leveraged a centrally-led scheme to help young people across Ireland and Northern Ireland fulfil their potential. #YouthEmpowered is a programme designed to help young people (aged 18 to 30) who are not currently in education, employment or training (NEET). With 460 young people benefitting from the scheme last year, #YouthEmpowered will come to full fruition in 2018, with 750 young people expected to benefit from the training through both in-person workshops and a new Digital Hub which gives free access to online training courses.

What better way to improve lives than by fostering a sense of positivity, self-belief and resilience in the next generation?

Combatting youth unemployment – a view from the top


First Ireland was rocked by recession and then by the mass exodus of talented workers to distant shores. Those that stayed behind weathered the path to economic recovery with entrepreneurial grit, but a seed of unemployment had been planted. And while it’s true that in 2018 the Irish economy is not just stable but booming, the youth unemployment problem persists.

Across the country unemployment levels are dipping, GDP is growing, and new start-ups are flourishing. Foreign investors are once again surveying our little emerald isle with keen commercial interest. Against this backdrop of exponential economic growth, the youth unemployment problem seems like an anomaly. However, approximately one in ten young people across Ireland are currently unemployed.

Speaking about the current unemployment situation and the need for #YouthEmpowered to shake up those dire statistics, Matthieu Seguin, General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland was full of hope for the future. “As business leaders, we have a special responsibility to ensure that the society in which we operate is sustainable and prosperous for all,” he said. “Coca-Cola HBC believes passionately in the potential of all young people as future leaders and community change-makers. This is a generation that can achieve what no-one else thought possible.”

Youth unemployment can be caused by a variety of factors – from the cycle of low achievement and low expectations in deprived areas to lack of qualifications and hysteresis (the phenomenon that unemployment leads to more unemployment). 

#YouthEmpowered is pledging to redress the employment balance and give young people ownership of their dreams. “With   #YouthEmpowered 2018, 750 young people will be given the opportunity to unlock their potential through skills training and professional mentoring,” Matthieu Seguin explained. “I am confident that we can empower our young people to succeed.”

Fostering resilience and self-belief in our young people

Coca-Cola HBC General Manager Matthieu Seguin with musician, Ryan O'Shaughnessy, talking to a group of young adults for #YouthEmpowered

Being young is a confusing time. “Do you know who you are? What you want to do with your life? And, once you’ve figured that out, how do you find someone to hire you?”

There is a sense that the youth of today is at a crossroads – but rather than four forks in the road there is a web of pathways spiralling out every which way. Many young people are crippled not by their lack of ability, but by their lack of direction.

#YouthEmpowered inspires young people to see the blank canvas of their working life as an exciting opportunity rather than a daunting prospect; equipping them with the social skills to tackle any challenge head on.

As Matthieu Seguin puts it, “In my career I’ve had many setbacks and obstacles. On the first day as sales representative I failed to reach my targets and really struggled to get to grips with the role. After this initial hurdle, I learned to adapt and began to develop confidence in my abilities. Progressively I learned the skill of selling and within weeks I was surpassing my targets. Now, many years later, I’m still selling and still learning! The life lesson here is the power of resilience and self-belief. We hope that through the #YouthEmpowered programme we can pass these values and skills on to the next generation.”

In addition to the 30 workshops taking place across the country running in partnership with training organisation FIT and YouthAction Northern Ireland, this year, #YouthEmpowered will reach a new cohort of young people via a new Digital Hub, which gives easy-to-access training to young people on their time and on their terms.

Coca-Cola HBC is also freeing up its own employees to become mentors to those involved on the course. Using the tried and tested mentoring model, these Youth Coaches will be on hand to offer guidance and advice to those who want to succeed, online and at the workshops.

Matthieu continues, “Being ‘employable’ is about far more than having the academic credentials or the experience. Yes, that stuff is important. But so is self-confidence, work ethic, drive, pride, networking, the ability to learn from mistakes. With #YouthEmpowered, we hope to give young people the fundamental life skills they need to transition to meaningful employment – while also building a lasting peer network. It’s a jump-start for those who, for whatever reason, have been left behind.”

Interested in the programme?

Do you know someone who could benefit from partaking in this programme? Or perhaps you are currently struggling to find work and are grappling with the thought of missed qualifications. If you’re ready to start a journey of self-development and make the first tentative steps towards a career, then register for the free training at

Sponsored by: CocaColaYouthEmpowered

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