William Smith, aged 19 from Fleckney in Leicestershire, is hitting all the right keys on his Information Technology Apprenticeship, without leaving his school! William’s enthusiasm for computers while a pupil at Gryphon School in Loughborough didn’t go unnoticed, and upon graduation he was asked by the Head Teacher to join them as an apprentice.
William, who has social anxiety, started his IT Apprenticeship with South Leicester College straight after the six week summer holidays and was also referred for support from Remploy, the UK’s leading disability employment specialist.
William said: “I learned a lot about IT just by helping out in my spare time and tinkering with the PC’s, installing updates and making sure they had the latest anti-virus programmes. The Head Teacher suggested I apply for an IT Apprenticeship and I haven’t looked back since. I find some social situations difficult but the school have been really supportive and understanding. I knew that the school’s IT needed updating, so with my manager’s support, we’ve brought in a new system which has made it a lot better. I’m really pleased with this achievement.”
William was referred to the Supporting Apprentices pilot scheme, funded by Access to Work and delivered by Remploy, which provides free work focused mental health support that lasts for six months and is tailored to an individual's needs, helping with coping strategies to enable each person to remain on their apprenticeship.
William said: “When I think about where I started and where I am now, I realise how far I’ve come. At first, dealing with different companies, speaking to them on the phone and having meetings with them was a challenge but now I have so much more confidence and am quite happy meeting them, even on my own. I couldn’t have done that a year ago!”
William received support including phone calls with his Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant every two weeks to talk about what was happening at work, as well as emails with advice about staying in work, and coping with difficult situations.
Rodney Berlyn, Remploy Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant said: “I’m really pleased William is doing so well and feels more confident now. His employer has been a good support and they’re helping him build his social skills. The advice William got from me was really to guide him to useful information and give him encouragement. He has really worked hard to overcome some of his social reservations and I wish him all the best.”