Alan Brown is now considering a new career in teaching after his self-confidence received a boost during his time at Think Employment.
After being labelled a ‘slow learner’ due to his undiagnosed dyslexia during his time at school, he left education without a single recognised qualification to his name. But decades later, Alan is gaining Level 2 qualifications in IT and Maths and improving his all-round confidence which has allowed him to think about a brand new career path.
We spoke to Alan about the barriers he’s overcome in a relatively short time at Think Employment.
Alan, can you remember when you first heard about Think Employment?
I saw a flyer in the Jobcentre promoting the IT programmes you offer. At the time I didn’t know how to use a computer at all and the people in the Jobcentre thought it was a good idea for me to go to Think Employment and learn these skills because they explained that I was going to have to apply for jobs online.
Did the IT course give you the skills and confidence you needed?
Yes, it did. I created my own CV within the first week of my two-week Basic IT course. That felt like quite an achievement because it was the first one I’d ever done myself and it was within just a few days! To practice my new IT skills, I bought a laptop so I could do it at home. I now use it for PC gaming – before I only used to use consoles!
That’s brilliant to hear, Alan. As well as the Basic IT course what other programmes have you done with us?
I passed Level 2 Maths after getting 88% on my test. I had to answer questions on things like probability and area, so it was a pleasant surprise when I found out how well I’d done! I went on to get Level 1 in IT as well and I’m just about to finish Level 2. I also did a Retail workshop to improve my chances of finding work in the future.
You have done really well to get nationally-recognised qualifications in Maths and IT. What did you have before you came to Think Employment?
To be honest, I didn’t have any from my time at school. I’ve had to build my CV from scratch, basically. The new qualifications have helped to give me confidence which has helped me interact with people better. I’m naturally a very shy person and a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to come to a learning centre and work alongside other people on a daily basis. But I’m now helping other learners in centre if they are having problems.
That’s massive process, Alan. Do you think your lack of confidence before was to do with your dyslexia?
Yeah I feel as though it’s been a barrier all of my life. Dyslexia wasn’t even recognised when I was at school, I was just labelled as a ‘slow learner’. I was aware of my condition before I came to Think Employment but the Tutors were very accommodating and changed settings on my computer screens and allowed me a little longer to read questions during exams which helped a lot.
Now that confidence isn’t an issue anymore, is teaching something you’re considering doing as a career?
Well, originally I was going into retail but now I’m really thinking about teaching. That came from me helping learners in centre while the Tutor was busy helping other people. It’s a good feeling to help other people and I’m keen to do it more. I once thought about teaching as a career but at the time I didn’t think it was a possibility because I lacked the confidence. In a way, it shows how far I’ve come during my time here.
You’re absolutely right. And now you’re a volunteer in our centre – how did that come about?
I was helping Ann (the Tutor) more and more but it was still a surprise to be asked to stay on and volunteer. But I thought it was a good chance for me to experience what teaching and supporting learning is like as a job. One of the main reasons I was considering retail is because I wanted to help people and I’m able to do that at Think Employment as a volunteer.
And you must have had a good experience with us because didn’t you recommend that your sister came to us?
Yes she heard how well I was doing and was keen to improve her CV. She’s been with other training providers in the past and not had good experiences. But I explained that she’d get all the support she needs – like I did – at Think Employment and she’s doing really well and isn’t far off completing her Level 2 in IT as well!