St Patrick’s College, Cavan becomes the first cross-border school to join the leading building and packaging materials manufacturer’s award-winning Educational Partnerships Programme

Mannok has launched a new partnership with St. Patrick’s College, Cavan, which has become the fourth school to partner with the company, and the first from the Republic of Ireland, making the company’s award-winning Programme a cross-border initiative.

The Mannok Futures Digital Innovation Hub will focus on providing the school’s students with career insights and blended learning opportunities in the area of Computer Science, and was fittingly launched at the school’s Computer Science Week on 14th October.

Pictured at the launch event (from left) Niall Monaghan, St Patrick’s College Teacher, Dara O’Reilly, Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Councillor John Paul Feeley, Cavan County Council, Christopher Rowley, St. Patrick’s College Principal, Brendan Smith, TD, and Brendan Jennings, Chairperson of Cavan Digital Hub, Cavan County Council.

The five-year partnership includes a financial commitment from Mannok which will allow the College to invest in its Computer Science facilities, in addition to a comprehensive programme of practical learning opportunities, which will bring real-life learning into the classroom and help provide both students and teachers with a broader understanding of workplace application, ensuring the curriculum is closely aligned to industry needs.

Guest speaker at the launch of the new partnership, Brendan Smith, TD, spoke of the benefits for the college following its collaboration with a large company like Mannok, saying,

“I’m delighted St. Patrick’s College has this new partnership with Mannok. Mannok is a hugely important employer in our county, it’s a company that all of us who live in County Cavan are proud of and we wish you continued success in the business and the great employment you provide in so many immediate counties in this area. I am delighted you have chosen Cavan as your first partnership school in this state, and I have no doubt that the school, the students, and Mannok will derive great benefits from this partnership going forward.”

The launch event included a series of workshops to give students a flavour of how Computer Science is utilised in the workplace, and attendees heard from two of the school’s Computer Science students about their experiences having recently enjoyed a work placement in Mannok. Luke Hand and Ahmed Cheema spent four weeks working across four areas of the business earlier this year to gain insight into the practical application of some of the theory-based learnings they have gained in their classroom studies.

Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Dara O’Reilly, spoke of why such experiences are an important part of the company’s Educational Partnerships Programme, saying,

“We’re extremely pleased to provide these opportunities for local students, and have been very impressed by both Luke and Ahmed, who are a credit to their school.

This type of workplace learning is invaluable for students to bolster their academic learnings and help understand the needs of industry; they’re an important element of all our partnerships, and we look forward to welcoming more placement students from St. Pat’s in the coming years.

The continued future economic development of our local region is a fundamental element of the approach we at Mannok take to operating our business. Key to this being a success is a focus on business succession planning. Our Educational Partnership Programme provides an important aspect of this approach and facilitates collaboration and knowledge transfer opportunities in a focussed and structured way with local schools. The goal of this, from our perspective, is to provide local students with an opportunity to see the highly skilled and varied roles that exist in businesses in our local area, giving real-life experience and employment opportunities in the future. This then provides a self-fulfilling result, not only for the schools involved, Mannok and other local businesses, but most importantly for the prosperity of the local region as a whole.”

The new Mannok Futures Digital Innovation Hub will provide St. Patrick’s College students with a broad variety of practical learning experiences, which can be applied to a range of careers in businesses such as Mannok, covering topics such as data mining and analytics, process automation and robotics, information security and IT asset management. Exposure to such future-focused themes can open a wide range of potential career pathways, enabling the attainment of knowledge and skills which are highly desired by the industry.

St. Patrick’s College Principal, Christopher Rowley, explained why Computer Science was selected as the theme of the partnership and how it will benefit the students,

“St Patrick’s College introduced Leaving Cert (LC) Computer Science in 2020. From seventeen initial students, forty-three students will take LC 2023 in Computer Science. This burgeoning area of education and careers was easy to identify for an Educational Partnership, as it is mutually beneficial. Mannok offers real life, realtime and local exposure for our students in this area and Mannok get access to a fantastic pool of talent that may ultimately benefit their workplace, but at the centre of the partnership are the students, the partnership is very much about providing opportunity for them and they will benefit in a vast range of ways.” 

Enhancing the employability of students is another significant element of the partnership, which will include practical careers-focused activities beyond Computer Science, such as interview skills development activities and careers insights events, as Mannok’s HR Manager, Caroline McCaffrey outlined,

“It’s very important for the local labour market that industry and education work together to ensure the future workforce is equipped to meet the needs of local employers and excel in their chosen field. The ever-changing requirements of industry are often not reflected in the curriculum, so these close working relationships aim to provide valuable insight into real-life workplace requirements and enable our educational partners to shape their classroom-based learning to suit the variety of future-focused career pathways available in the region.

We’ve worked very hard with local schools to develop what we believe is a leading example of an educational partnership framework, which in this case includes financial sponsorship of the school’s Computer Science department and an award for its highest achieving student, access to the expertise of our teams in relevant areas of the business to support students and staff at the College, exposure to real-life case studies and site tours, in addition to our comprehensive Careers support and a summer placement programme. Every element is tailored to the needs of the school and the business, aligned with the curriculum and in keeping with the theme of the partnership. The framework very much focuses on ensuring both the business and the school benefit, but most importantly, the students gain real value to help guide their career choices and give them an early advantage as they begin carving their career paths.”

Pictured at the launch event (from left) Bronte Fitzmaurice, St Patrick’s College Teacher, Ahmid Cheema & Luke Hand, St Patrick’s College Students, Dara O’Reilly, Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Gwendoline Brady, St Patrick’s College Deputy Principal, Niall Monaghan, St Patrick’s College Teacher, John O’Shea, St Patrick’s College Deputy Principal and Caroline McCaffrey, Mannok’s HR Manager.

St. Patrick’s College joins three other Mannok-partnered schools on the Programme, which has been recognised in multiple awards ceremonies, most recently achieving Highly Commended status at the Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards. Each partnership focuses on a specific career-related area, with established partnerships including a construction technology partnership with St. Michael’s College, Enniskillen, a business insights partnership with St. Aidan’s, Derrylin, and the more recently established partnership in sustainability with Mount Lourdes, Enniskillen.