Finton Donahue, Chief Executive of North Hertfordshire College and Chief Executive of Gazelle Global Ltd, looks back at the last twelve months of The Duke’s involvement in their effort to create opportunities for entrepreneurial young people.
Just over twelve months ago I blogged to explain the value and impact of The Duke of York’s decision to bring different individuals engaged in the development of enterprise and entrepreneurship together in conversation and action. At that time the dialogue with the CBI, the Studio School Trust, the University Technical Colleges and the Peter Jones Enterprise Academies created an alliance that enabled Gazelle and Gazelle Colleges to deliver a conference in 2013 that had the excellent headline input from John Cridland, the Director General of the CBI, Ministers and other significant speakers.
In the period since then HRH has been pretty relentless in his pursuit of opportunity for students in colleges and young people in schools. The creation of the alliance with the Nominet Trust and the vision to bring a million young people more strongly into the digital world of employment is just one great example of how The Duke is connecting our Gazelle Colleges and the further education sector into exceptional opportunity. This active engagement manifested itself in a range of ways at the Gazelle Conference in 2014. HRH’s decision to network with the senior governor and college leaders at that event created a confidence in the direction of travel that will enable many of those governors to embrace some of the more radical approaches to the development of social enterprise and commercial learning in their colleges.
More importantly the direct engagement of The Duke in dialogue and conversation with college students learning the skills of coding recently makes a statement about the need to assist young people in making occupational and training choices that will seriously enhance their ability to create wealth, businesses and employment.
HRH’s interest in the ideas emerging for new apps in areas as diverse as the monitoring of young people by parents when out at night, to an app to ensure you are less likely to get a parking fine, were all areas of interest to The Duke. His encouragement to the young people to consider the pursuit of coding is just one great example of how the whole enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda has moved forward. Being able to connect with a much wider group of entrepreneurs brought together by HRH with Seven Hills around the E20 initiative was instrumental in building a much stronger industry feel at the Gazelle May conference. The fact that STEM was so high on the agenda again reflects the fact that even with enterprise and entrepreneurship we need
to have a strong eye on where those businesses are more likely to take off and where they will create young people with the greatest opportunities to grow income and improve their economic well-being.
It was no surprise to me to find that The Duke commented on the fact that he felt he knew a very large number of the people he met while networking at the conference. This is because in a series of round tables, visits to colleges and direct support for linkage between colleges and industry HRH has been in an extraordinary number of places and indeed in many of the Gazelle Colleges over the last twelve months.
We now, I think have a much more developed and dynamic agenda around the building of entrepreneurship and enterprise into learning and into the mentoring and support of young people.
I look forward to the next phase of development and to The Duke’s insight in connecting, particularly with emerging industries and enterprise over the next twelve months. I think it is extraordinary to see where an initial discussion with HRH in a round table with twelve colleges just two years ago in Sheffield talking about enterprise in the abstract and what we could potentially do, is now translating into serious action and opportunity through a more developed network and a very different level of interaction.
Finton Donahue, Chief Executive, North Hertfordshire College and Chief Executive of Gazelle Global Ltd