On Friday, 27 January 2017, Junior Achievement (JA) Cyprus, the leading entrepreneurship education programme provider in Cyprus, organised a press conference, announcing the launch of the fourth consecutive year of its signature high school “Company Programme”, as well as the second year of the primary school programme, “More than Money”.
The press conference took place at the Centre for Visual Arts and Research (CVAR). In attendance were: Dr. Costas Kadis, Minister of Education and Culture, British High Commissioner, Mr. Matthew Kidd, and former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou, as well as other representatives from the public sector, business sector, academic community, and members of the press.
This is the fourth year that JA Cyprus cooperates with both public and private high schools, as well as vocational schools from all over Cyprus, through the Company Programme. The programme aims to offer high school students, aged 15-18, the opportunity to learn through practice how to develop and implement a viable business idea, from concept to realisation, by forming and running their own real company for an academic year. The CEO of the organisation, Eloiza Savvidou, spoke about the current mismatch of skillsets between the skills employers want from their new employees and the skills academic institutions typically equip the youth of today with. JA Cyprus attempts to bridge that gap, providing students with hands-on entrepreneurship experience; helping them to develop the necessary skills to become successful in a fast-moving global economy.
In his brief address, Dr. Costas Kadis, Minister of Education and Culture, noted that through its programmes, Junior Achievement Cyprus fosters creativity and innovation, encouraging students to work in teams and to transform ideas into action, thereby nurturing their curiosity, and imagination. He added that the Ministry of Education and Culture endorses these objectives, and, in the context of its wider efforts, seeks to develop a close and constructive collaboration with Junior Achievement Cyprus.
This year, over 500 students, supported by over 60 teachers from 31 schools in Cyprus created their own student company, launching innovative products and services. The ten most successful business ideas will participate in the “Company of the Year” Competition in April 2017. The winning team will be invited to represent Cyprus in the “European Company of the Year” Competition, organised by Junior Achievement Europe (JA Europe), in Belgium, in July 2017. Moreover, JA Cyprus will be running the “More than Money” programme in primary schools for a second consecutive year, starting in February. The programme, supported by the Association of Cyprus Banks, aims to familiarise 5th and 6th year primary school students with concepts related to the management of money, such as income, expenses and savings. This year, 10 schools and 500 students are expected to participate in the programme, double that of the previous year.
This year, alumni of past JA Cyprus programmes spoke at Friday’s event, sharing their experiences and impressions of their involvement in Junior Achievement Cyprus and their educational trips abroad. The group of students also announced the creation of an official Junior Achievement Alumni Cyprus.
Speaking at the press conference, the Chairman of JA Cyprus, Mr. Andreas Papadopoulos, noted that “participating students develop critical thinking and practical business skills through experiential learning and teamwork. Thus, they achieve a more targeted professional direction, while establishing a solid foundation for the long-term improvement of the competitiveness of our country”.
Mr. Constantinos Loizides, Chairman of Piraeus Bank Cyprus, the strategic partner of JA Cyprus, stressed that “JA Cyprus plays an important role in enlightening students of the challenges of innovation and entrepreneurship, moving them away from simply seeking a salaried job, without intellectual challenges”. He went on to note that this is very hopeful for the island’s future.
On behalf of Cyta, the Chief Technology & Informatics Officer, Mr. Chrysis Phiniotis, highlighted Cyta’s partnership with JA Cyprus, as one of several prominent collaborations and initiatives the organisation has developed in the past few years. Such partnerships are undertaken “in order to help properly equip the youth of the island, so they can, in turn, create their own businesses/start-ups, as well as contribute towards a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Cyprus”.
The General Director of MetLife Cyprus, Mr. Antonios Karpasitis, underlined the importance of programmes such as Junior Achievement, in shaping and developing the entrepreneurial spirit missing in our youth today. “The country needs economic growth and employment, which will only come through innovation and entrepreneurship”.
Mr. Michalis Stavrides, Director at PwC Cyprus, spoke about the shared vision of the partners in this endeavour: “to collectively contribute to the entrepreneurial culture and consciousness of the country”. He further underlined how PwC works “to bring about positive change through the implementation of a CSR programme that focuses on volunteerism and specialised expertise, to better support the business sector and our young people”.
JA Cyprus is supported by the following:
- Strategic Partner: Piraeus Bank Cyprus
- Partners: Cyta, MetLife and PwC Cyprus
- Supporters: University of Nicosia, MSJ Jacovides Group and AON
- Institutional Partner: Ministry of Education and Culture