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Exclusive Interview: Phil Jones, Director of Prince’s Trust

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Phil Jones, Director of Prince’s Trust talks to Business News Wales about his role and plans for the future in supporting and inspiring young people around the country.

Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within The Prince’s Trust?

I was born in Oxfordshire though my family hails from Lampeter and Llandullas. Prior to my current role, I was the Wales Area Manager for The Royal British Legion during a time of the charity’s transformation. Previously, I served in the Armed Forces for over 25 years as an officer in The Royal Welsh.  My roles included overseeing the delivery of combat and leadership training, media and strategic communications, and planning and delivering intelligence training both in the UK and abroad.

As Director for The Prince’s Trust Cymru I am responsible for the delivery of all Prince’s Trust programmes across Wales. We work closely with employers, schools, charities and training partners to support 13 to 30 year olds who are unemployed or struggling at school. Our focus is providing opportunities for the next generation and enabling them to realise and reach their potential.

What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?

We are committed to raising the aspirations of our young people and driving social and economic prosperity in Wales. Looking to the future, we want to work alongside government and businesses to maximise opportunities for young people, provide support where it is needed most and grow Wales together. We want our young people to play an integral role in Welsh growth and it is crucial that we motivate our supporters, old and new, to get behind our mission.

One of our biggest challenges is reaching out into some of the more rural communities in Wales. In a ground-breaking move, The Trust is launching an online learning platform and eMentoring service which will provide young people with additional networks of support. We’re excited about what the future holds for our young people, The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Wales.

Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently? 

I think it’s really important to learn from the people around you. We are all reflections of the people we have met in our lives, but often the pace of life means that we don’t have time to listen and learn. I would recommend we all spend more time doing that.

What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?

One of the most important things is to fully understand the different audiences you work with and to really know what will appeal to them. For The Prince’s Trust Cymru, this includes young people, funders and supporters, referral partners and volunteers.  If you know your audience, you can achieve your aims more efficiently and effectively.

What are your top three tips for success?

  • Engage and inspire young people.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
  • Consult and empower your staff.

Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?

I think the main innovation is greater partnerships and smarter partnerships where charity’s operations complement those of the public and private sectors. I also think the use of digital technology as a means of reaching young people and supporting them to achieve success is increasingly important.

Do you foresee any issues that Welsh business will be facing in the short/medium/long term?

One of the biggest issues faced by organisations in the third sector is funding. We are all competing for the same pots of money so it is important that you don’t rest on your laurels, and instead continue exploring where the next funding stream will come from. At The Prince’s Trust Cyrmu, we want to attract further investment by demonstrating how empowering young people is beneficial for businesses, communities and individuals.

Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?

At this stage we still don’t know the full ramifications of Brexit and how it will affect our organisation and the wider sector. What we do know is that it is important to stay focused on the task at hand and continue striving to achieve our core objectives. For The Prince’s Trust Cymru, this constitutes providing unemployed young people and those struggling at school with the support and opportunities they need to get their lives on track. We will take the necessary steps to adapt to the changing social and political climates and ensure we continue enhancing our support for young people.

What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?

Wales has so much potential and we are really starting to see that come to fruition. Swansea’s Tidal Lagoon will be a world’s first, the nuclear plant at Gwynedd can revitalise the economy in North Wales and Cardiff University’s innovative campus could regenerate high-tech manufacturing in the UK. These projects alone demonstrate one of our biggest strengths in Wales – ambition. We do need to develop our transport infrastructure, which is why I am a fan of the South Wales Metro project, and continue to retain talent in Wales.

What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?

I think we need to be bold and really showcase our aspirations for the future. As well as the larger projects on the horizon, we need to engage our communities, bridge existing skills gaps and support start-ups and SMEs to rejuvenate local economies. We also need to demonstrate to the wider audience the young talent we have in this country. Investment is about looking to the future and I’m confident that if we can showcase our fantastic young people, we can draw greater interest in Wales, and give the next generation the tools they need to achieve success.

What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?

It is extremely important that schools continue to facilitate the development of communication, teamwork and leadership skills. We place a significant emphasis on these attributes across our programmes to help young people to be confident in their abilities and themselves.

Digital skills are also crucial to young people’s success and that’s why we’re embedding STEM learning across all of our programmes. Our educational programme, Achieve, also offers alternative learning activities including outdoor pursuits, active citizenship workshops and enterprise projects to prepare young people for their future.

How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?

It is crucial there is a joined up approach between business and higher education to move Wales forward. We need our biggest industries, which include manufacturing, tourism and financial services, to continue pushing the barriers and we need our young people to be at the forefront of Welsh innovation.

If you are interested in working with us in Wales, please email [email protected] or call free on 0800 842 842.

Inspiring young people – Reaching our potential – Growing Wales together

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