Theo Davies-Lewis is a highly motivated and skilled student at the University of Oxford, who has gained a wide range of experiences in the world of journalism, communications and broadcasting at a local, university and national level.
Theo is the co-chair of the Darogan Network, an initiative he has pioneered to ensure that Wales’ economy, politics and industry is boosted by its graduates returning to Wales after university.
Theo has managed the public relations, policy drive, and the organisational strategy The venture is focused around the brain drain in Wales.
We spoke to Theo about Darogan recently. He began by saying: “There’s thousands of graduates who leave the country and don’t come back. What we are trying to do is create a network of businesses and students and get them together and hopefully get some people back to improve the Welsh economy for the future. I think it is worrying.
Theo is realistic about the fact that some students do study elsewhere and choose not to return. He said: “People have the freedom to study elsewhere or stay in Wales. The Welsh Government invests in us through grants and loans. I believe students should return to Wales to give something back but where are they going to find the jobs? There are not many opportunities advertised. What we want to do is directly connect businesses who want to recruit some of the best students from across the UK and make sure they come back and contribute to their organisations.”
Addressing the issue of rurality and the fact that returning to a declining rural economy Theo said: “We need to make sure we don’t just give people opportunities in Cardiff. What we want to do is hunt down the companies and organisations that are not just focused on finance, politics and the media. It has to address issues like environmental issues, social justice and voluntary work. There is a huge crisis in areas like Llanelli where there aren’t many jobs. There are things we need to be worried about. We need to make sure we can get businesses and organisations involved to discuss what can be done in rural areas.”
Speaking about the impact of Britain leaving the EU Theo said: “There are businesses that are concerned about investing in Britain. We need an international outlook and an international reach. I am not sure that Brexit is the reason for some companies leaving the area but I am sure it cannot be ruled out.”
We asked Theo whether he thought that drive to have Welsh speaking employees might also put some businesses off coming to Wales. He said: “The Welsh language is important for jobs. I am a first language Welsh speaker so it is important to me. It is important that we don’t indoctrinate people with the Welsh language. People have the freedom not to speak Welsh. I hope we are not a country that says if you don’t speak Welsh you are not welcome. Three are benefits to having someone in a job that does speak Welsh. If you look at schools or GP’s for example, it is a benefit.
We asked Theo how the organisation would work in linking students with employers. He said: “We want a network where businesses will advertise jobs. They will speak to students directly. We are not isolating this to specific universities. I hope it’s not a talking shop. I hope that this is something that has practical meaning. In the next 8 weeks we want to develop a support network. What the businesses get is access, a place on our advisory board and a place on our website. We have our own member’s area. We want to develop individual profile areas. We have had a few universities joining us such as Oxford, Bristol and Warwick. We have also written to the Welsh government to ask for support. We have reached out to businesses too