People & Appointments

Youth employment project appoints entrepreneur as chairman

Written by Peter Davison on .

James Phipps

 

Entrepreneur James Phipps has been appointed as chairman of Swindon youth development firm The Platform Project.

The philanthropic businessman has been involved as a non-executive director for 12 months and has now stepped up to support continued growth, community and business engagement.

He said: “Having spent the last year working closely with the team and seeing the huge difference the Platform Project has made to young people, I was both humbled and excited when asked to become chairman.

"We have a hugely talented and passionate Board and we aim to continue the significant growth so we can help as many young people as we can have a chance to make the best of the opportunities ahead of them.”

James was asked to take on the role as chairman by the project’s founder Sadie Sharp.

“I’m delighted James has accepted this role to help us grow and develop even further as an organisation," said Sadie.

"Our choice to operate as a Community Interest Company rather than a charity has helped us really embrace commercial thinking and scalable practices, and now we earn almost half of our income from our sold services, which has inevitably led to our self-funded growth and further expansion plans.

"But this has been reliant upon us having the right business savvy people in the right roles, and James’ entrepreneurial and charitable experiences are a perfect fit for our vision and goals.

“We’ve recently been awarded a grant of £36,500 from the Social Enterprise Support Fund to help more young people improve their employability prospects which is even more critical at this time, so we are so fortunate to have James in the role of Chair to help steer us towards a sustainable yet rapid expansion.”

The Platform Project currently runs a number of small trading youth led businesses which will be increasing their number of sessions to provide a more full-time development option for young people needing additional help to transition into employment or enterprise.

These opportunities all develop CV-credible experiences, confidence and hands-on skills in a “training workplace”, including:

  • A youth magazine.
  • A printed goods business.
  • A digital media marketing agency.
  • A creative careers start up service.

Sadie said: “We’ve supported around 50 young people this year and are now in a fortunate position to be able to rapidly scale up to meet the ever increasing youth unemployment needs. Our key strategic activities now are to:

  • Broaden our range and frequency of youth led business sessions to help more young people become more work ready, secure work and launch their own enterprises.
  • Expand our alternative education service to schools and colleges to help more students learn how they can work for themselves if the job market doesn’t present many options.
  • Establish our model as a social franchise and launch it other places in the UK, helping even more young people level the playing field by learning how to work for themselves and run a business."

The Platform Project has just celebrated its third birthday and, since starting as a volunteer led organisation, has tripled in size each year, with its income now at around £70,000.

To find more or to volunteer as a mentor, visit www.platformproject.co.uk