Sunday, 9 March 2008

Connecting with the young and Raising c £40K for the Prince’s Trust

On Thursday Vodafone hosted a Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group (I’m the Chairman at the moment) dinner in the Pavilion at their HQ in Newbury. You may remember that this had been flooded last July and this was the first time it had been used since the completion of the refurbishment. It’s magnificent. This time we sold tables to companies and it was sell-out almost immediately with tables hosted by the likes of Oracle, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Detica, EDS, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Nokia, Ericson, EMC, IBM, Sun Microsystems etc. We raised nearly £40K in the evening – amazing and a BIG THANKYOU to everyone involved.

A young lady called Michelle McGawley (pictured with Nick Read (Vodafone UK CEO) and Steve Pusey (Vodafone CTO) in the picture to the right) told us of her experiences on the Prince’s Trust Team programme – a 12-week personal development course, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week to unemployed 16-24 year olds. I tell you, Michelle will not remain unemployed for long if her performance and confidence is anything to go by. It really is inspirational to see the effects that our fundraising can have on young people who had previously been given up as a bad job.

Both Nick Read (Vodafone’s UK MD) and Steve Pusey (Vodafone’s Global CTO) spoke. They both concentrated on youth. Pusey made the point that the majority of their users now – and obviously much more in the future – were young but the services were designed by much older people – dare I say it like the people in the audience. Pusey used the example of his 6-year old daughter and the Penguin Club - a kind of junior version of Facebook for the uninitiated. (If you don’t know what Facebook is – I give up!)

I think this generation gap between the under 24 year olds and the over 40s is wider than at any time in the last 40 years. It reminds me of the last great generation gap that existed between the newly invented teenagers of the 1950s and 1960s and their pre-war Mums and Dads. Ie that existed between me and my Mum and Dad. That gap did not exist with my own kids. But my own kids (now in their mid 30s) seem to have as wide a gap with the Youtube/Facebook/Instant Messaging generation.

Anyway engaging with the sub 24 year olds is what the Prince’s Trust is all about and, as Vodafone recognises, is pretty crucial for all businesses wanting to stay ahead of (or even in) the game.

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