We are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Access to the Workplace Coordinator, Fiona Hudson, who will play a key role in growing the programme in 2020 and overseeing its delivery and management.
Well known for her exploits on the field as a former Dublin Senior Ladies footballer, Fiona brings a wealth of expertise to the role with over six years’ experience working in the community, youth and education sectors. Since joining DCU in January 2016, Fiona has worked as a Post-Entry Support Officer with the DCU Access Service, which sits within the University’s wider Student Support and Development Unit. In this role, Fiona worked with students who entered DCU through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and the DCU Access Service, providing them with personal, academic and financial supports throughout their degrees.
Prior to joining DCU, Fiona worked as an Education Development Officer in socio-economically disadvantaged communities throughout the Dublin North West region. Fiona is a past graduate of DCU, and also holds an MA in Applied Social Studies from NUI Maynooth. Outside of work, Fiona is a member of Ireland’s American Chamber of Commerce Young Leaders Network and also the Project Management Institute where she completed her CAPM qualification in 2018.
Speaking on the announcement of Fiona’s appointment, Cathy McLoughlin, Head of DCU’s Access Service stated:
“It’s essential that the coordinator of Access to the Workplace has good insight into and knowledge of the Access programme along with experience working with students to ensure the programme reaches its full potential over the next few years, so Fiona is the perfect fit for this role.”
Speaking on the appointment, Jason Sherlock, Director of Development with DCU Educational Trust said:
“Fiona played a central role in establishing the Access to the Workplace programme and was heavily involved in designing the workplace preparation element for students. She also oversaw the process to ensure the best student-company match for placements in 2019 and brings an excellent understanding of the needs of both our partner companies and students to the role. I’m confident that Access to the Workplace will grow from strength to strength with Fiona leading the programme.”
The appointment of a full-time coordinator was one of the key recommendations in an independent evaluation of the Access to the Workplace 2019 pilot programme. The evaluation, which was completed by consultants S3 Solutions, captured extensive participant feedback through 22 company and 25 student interviews. In addition to providing recommendations to improve the future operation of the programme, the evaluation findings also demonstrated that both students and companies enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive experience in 2019. 100% of companies interviewed expressed their intention to host a placement again in 2020 and 100% of students said they would recommend the programme to another student.
Fiona Hudson herself is looking forward to leading the programme’s expansion to offer 100 placements in 2020, stating that:
“I look forward to the challenge ahead to grow and develop this exciting new programme. From S3 Solutions’ evaluation of the 2019 pilot, it is clear that Access to the Workplace has huge potential particularly for our Access students as the programme will support their professional development and prepare them for the workplace.”