Awards aim to ‘Spark’ students creativity

The 2015 national third level student Spark Social Enterprise Awards have been launched.

The Awards are the product of collaboration involving Social Care Practice lecturers working at DIT, IT Sligo and IT Tralee.

The competition, now in its second year, is open to accountancy, business studies, early childhood care in education and social care practice students attending 10 Institutes of Technology.

The Awards are intended to facilitate, recognize and reward creativity and innovation among students working on a diverse range of social issues.

Using a problem based learning approach, the competition will involve student social entrepreneurs identifying a social issue and, facilitated by their lecturers, exploring and critiquing current responses and offering new ideas to address these issues.

Creating a space for students to imagine, think, apply and act as social entrepreneurs is a valuable learning experience for them and could possibly result in a society changing innovation.  Last year’s competition attracted tremendous interest and outstanding entries.

Dr. John Pender, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Technology, Sligo and a member of the SPARK Awards advisory board, believes the awards will help students will develop skills which will be very relevant to their future employability.

“The Spark Student Social Enterprise Awards seek to imbue key characteristics of entrepreneurship – leadership, vision, creativity, tenacity and business acumen – and social innovation among third level students thereby allowing them to identify and agilely respond to increasingly complex social issues throughout their communities,” he says.

Launching the Awards, the Minister of State for Business and Employment Ged Nash said students would gain long term benefits from the Awards scheme. “Students will get to explore a range of complex social issues that are relevant to Irish society today,” he says. “They’ll apply skills and innovative thinking they are acquiring through their studies in attempting to address them. This is the type of critical thinking and entrepreneurship we are trying to encourage across society in my Department.”

This year’s Awards are generously supported and sponsored by The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland).

Outstanding competition entries will be shortlisted for generous prizes totalling €10,000 and assessed by an independent judging panel.

Entries to the competition close on Friday 24th April with the national finals scheduled to take place in Dublin during May.

Photo caption:
Dr John Pender – IT Sligo, Ged Nash – Minister of State for Business & Employment, Roisín McGlone – IT Sligo, Michael Barrett – IT Sligo.

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