Helping to ease the stress of LC class 2021

The Leaving Cert class of 2021 are to be offered free access to a technology platform which matches secondary school students with the best-fit college course for them, in a bid to to reduce drop-outs, writes NATHAN MAYES, YOONI
Helping to ease the stress of LC class 2021

Darragh Lucey and Nathan Mayes, of Yooni, at the IGNITE Awards and Showcase at UCC’s Devere Hall.

EVERY year, 40,000 Leaving Certificate students make one of the most exciting transitions of their lives, they go to college.

However, unbeknownst to them one in four of them will drop out before completing their course. That is a massive number of drop-outs, most of which occur because students choose the wrong course to begin with.

It is this startling statistic that led friend and co-founder Darragh Lucey and I to start YOONI, an Educational Technology company that uses cutting edge technology to help students find their dream college course.

Before YOONI, Darragh and I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering in UCC, a course we both loved. After graduation we saved up some money working as engineers before taking a year out to backpack around Asia, New Zealand and South America — a trip I wish I could do all over again given the current climate!

While working for a stint in Cambodia, we saw an article about the increasing number of students dropping out of college. It resonated with us as it was something we had seen first-hand in our own college course. After a bit of research, we realised this was a global problem facing students from all over the world. We put our heads together to see if we could make use of our engineering backgrounds to tackle the dropout problem and came up with YOONI, a technology-led guidance platform that uses Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics to match secondary school students with the best-fit college courses for them.

Fast forward two years to September 2020, and we officially launched YOONI nationally. Since launching, YOONI has helped Leaving Certificate students from over 400 schools choose their appropriate college course. How have we done this? Our bespoke assessment technology analyses a student’s academics, personality and interests to generate personalised course recommendations and insights. YOONI also allows students to research courses, fill out a practice CAO form, and determine if they meet the entry requirements for any searched course.

The typical cost of using our system is €49.99, but we have decided to offer it to all Leaving Certificate students in the class of 2021 completely free of charge.

This decision was made following support from our industry partners, such as Musgrave and Dornan Engineering Ltd, who share with us the desire to ease the burden of stress on the class of 2021.

YOONI’s online assessment involves students completing a career interest inventory, a personality test, and inputting their predicted Leaving Certificate grades. Their ‘YOONI Fit’ results are then engineered through the bespoke system using Artificial Intelligence to match students to courses that they are best suited to. Students can now log onto the YOONI Career Guidance Platform and complete their ‘YOONI Fit’ assessment that matches them to third-level courses within the CAO system. Level 6, 7 and 8 courses are all included in our recommendations.

Our aim at YOONI is to get the right student into the right course and make the best career guidance services easily accessible to all, regardless of their personal, social or educational background.

It has been a particularly challenging time for Leaving Certificate students. We hope that offering YOONI free of charge will enable students to focus on their studies and not worry about career choice.

We are also delighted to have just announced significant partnerships with UCC (Cork), LYIT (Letterkenny) and City Education Group (Dublin).

Philip Smith, the Group Director of Marketing & Sales at City Education Group, had this to say “I am very excited about our partnership with YOONI. They have an excellent platform which, in my opinion, is badly needed.

"After speaking with the Co-Founder, Darragh Lucey, I knew I wanted the City Education Group on this platform. This opportunity came for the group at a great time as we have seen a huge growth in demand for our courses and launch our degree programmes for September 2021.”

Darragh and I have a fantastic team behind us with extensive technical and career guidance experience, which has allowed us to bridge the void between the traditional guidance system and modern career guidance technology. In particular I have to give kudos to Shrenik Doshi, our Software Development Lead, and Irene Doyle, our Career Guidance Lead, without whom none of this would have been possible – thanks guys!

To sign up for free and view other supports available to students, visit www.YOONI.ie

If your company wants to work with YOONI to help second-level students from across the country, please get in touch at hello@yooni.ie Free offer applies until July 1, 2021.

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