Over 90% of at-risk young adults who participated in an innovative education programme developed by education experts in Trinity remain in full-time employment or in formal education, according to the findings of a study launched last week at an event in the Central Bank, on Dublin’s North Wall Quay.

Career LEAP is a pioneering programme based in Dublin’s north inner city to help at-risk young adults aged 18-24 to build the personal, social, emotional and cognitive skills necessary for developing career identity and work-readiness. Developed by Trinity’s School of Education, the programme draws on cutting-edge educational and occupational psychology to help young people transfer the skills learned during the training to everyday life and the workplace.

The programme, delivered in conjunction with East Wall Youth, Swan Youth Services and over 20 businesses in the docklands and city centre area, includes a two-week training programme, followed by a three-week unpaid work placement offered by local businesses. Training is provided to all participants — the young adults, the business partners, and the community and youth workers. To date, almost 40 young people, who were not in education, training or employment, have participated in the programme.


A research study on the training programme entitled An Evaluation of Career LEAP: A Work-readiness Programme for Young Adults Not in Education, Employment or Training) illustrates how the training programme built confidence, was impactful, and was challenging for participants. Over 90% of graduates of the programme were found to be in education or full-time employment two years on from participating in Career LEAP — almost double the international average for similar programmes.

At the event attended by Philip Lane, Governor of the Central Bank, young adults who participated in the most recent programme were presented with certificates of participation, while mentors from the participating businesses received training as part of the programme received CPD certificates.

The high success rate of the programme is thanks to Career LEAP’s focus on evidence-based interventions and strong partnership between community services, business and researchers, according to Associate Professor in Education at Trinity, Carmel O’Sullivan, who led the research team that developed the initiative.

In particular, Career LEAP used an interactive and arts-based approach during training, which created trusting relationships between the young adult participants, the trainers, and the business leaders and mentors. This resulted in considerable gains in self-efficacy and confidence, leading to sustainable career pathways and employment opportunities for graduates.

Professor O’Sullivan said: “This report is the result of over two years research arising from a request from the community in Dublin’s Docklands to assist in engagement with major businesses in the area to provide work-placements for young unemployed adults. However, work placements on their own are not enough. Given the many changes which have occurred in the labour market in recent years, such as the disappearance of traditional entry-level jobs and a requirement for flexible workers, getting your first job can be a huge challenge. In an increasingly competitive market, young people must be ‘work-ready’ if they are to succeed.”

“Our research identified a gap in the way work-readiness training is delivered to young unemployed adults nationally and internationally. As our study highlights, the method of training proved to be the lynchpin in connecting with young people. As an integrated intervention, the training component of Career LEAP prepared participants for a structured transition to the workplace, and it also prepared mentors in the businesses to be ‘employer-ready’ to support these young people who faced significant barriers to entering the workforce. In essence, Career LEAP responded to the need for ‘joined-up thinking’ in this field in the north inner city. In addition, the report highlights the positive response from businesses and community members in sitting down together to share expertise and resources in an effort to do something collaboratively to solve youth unemployment. This research firmly places Ireland at the forefront of evidence-based innovations in the area of work-readiness.”

Key findings of the research report include:

  • Almost two years after completing the programme, over 90% of its graduates continue to be in full-time employment or in formal education
  • Career LEAP’s three-pronged partnership model between community, business and research is a unique approach nationally and internationally in the field of labour activation
  • The creative and interactive training approach created trusting relationships between the young adult participants, the trainers, and the business leaders and mentors, resulting in considerable gains in self-efficacy and confidence, and leading to sustainable career pathways and employment opportunities for over 90% of graduates. Businesses reported an increase in mentors’ leadership capacities as a result and a positive impact on their workforce from a diversity and inclusivity perspective


  • Specifically, Career LEAP was successful in helping participants to uncover new personal and professional work-readiness skills through guided awareness and discovery learning. It also facilitated the participants to practice new skills using active, creative social learning theories and methods leading young adults to reflect on their current career and workplace competencies and plan for change. It also allowed the participants to receive positive feedback on their learning and inoculated them against setbacks by tackling generic barriers to education and employment
  • The programme created a positive impact in the north east inner city with young people recommending it to family members and friends. Demand for the programme has proven high. Graduates have continued to stay engaged and in touch with the coordinator

Professor Paula Murphy, Registrar, Trinity, added: “Trinity is very proud of the work of Carmel O’Sullivan and her research team in developing and implementing Career LEAP, which is valuable for the participants and the community and also for the University. It shows how the University’s academic expertise and innovative thinking can transform society and enrich lives. It is a great example of what the University can achieve working with community organisations and businesses. In addition, this research report on Career LEAP attests to a strong evidence-based, effective programme that prepares participants for employment.”

Chairperson of East Wall Youth, Marie O’Reilly who initiated the partnership study said: “The impact of Career LEAP on the youth services and the wider community has been very positive. It has helped the community understand the needs of young people and their commitment to a new and innovative way of learning. The need for joined-up thinking and joined-up practice when working with young people and the necessity of community-led initiatives and projects which involve communities as equal partners is essential. Their knowledge on the ground of the realities of young people’s lives and the challenges that some of them face has to be incorporated into any future initiatives when targeting work readiness schemes for the people involved.”

The programme was funded by the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB), the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and a number of local businesses. It was conducted in the offices of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

An online copy of the report is available here.


Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell, Press Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551