Laying strong foundations - IBM Traineeship

Laying strong foundations - IBM Traineeship

Humza attended an IT course at City Gateway, before being accepted onto the IBM Traineeship programme. He is now completing an apprenticeship in IT.

At school, Humza did not achieve good grades in his Maths and English GCSEs. He was struggling at college and he wanted to do something about it.

Following an IT course at City Gateway, he was accepted onto the IBM Traineeship programme. Through the programme, he realised he needed to improve his Maths and English in order to succeed. Tim, a City Gateway Careers and Progression Consultant, worked with him to help him achieve his Maths and English awards in record time.

Humza is now undertaking an apprenticeship in IT support at a West London School.

"Now, I've got job interviews that I didn't get before. I never thought I'd be working at this stage of my life but I am. And it's only because of City Gateway."

What age were you when you came to City Gateway?

I was 17 when I first came to City Gateway. Before that, I was at college. I wasn't really enjoying college as I felt as if I was doing the same as when I was in school.

What was your experience at school?

I did business at school but I found it really boring. I was stuck on a computer doing work all day and that's when I spoke to my brother. He came to City Gateway and he got his apprenticeship through them. I started talking to my mum, saying, "I don't really want to be in education any more. I want to start working now. I just feel like I am messing about too much. I need to put my head down and do something with my life."

What’s been your journey at City Gateway?

I came to City Gateway and I made a mistake. I did a business course again and didn't like it because every lesson was pretty much the same.

But I spoke to my tutor and he said I should try an IT or Customer Service course as I might enjoy it. I read over IT and I thought I'd go for that. I'd never done IT before. When I started class, I thought that I'd be one of those students who just sit in the back not doing anything because I don't know anything.

As the lessons started kicking in, I saw that I was the only one putting a hand up, answering questions when the teachers asked them. I thought to myself, "I enjoy this." I did my four exams and I passed them all. And I went on to the IBM course where I got to work at IBM for a whole month. I went in early every day. I tried everything. I made myself stand out. At my first proper interview (for an apprenticeship), I went for and I actually got the apprenticeship in IT support for a private school in South West London.

Tell me a bit about where your Maths and English levels were.

My Maths and English levels weren't very good. In school I wasn't really focusing. It was Year 11. I was supposed to put my head down. That's one of the reasons why, when I went to college, I didn't really like it as I had no English and no Maths. When I came to City Gateway, I realised I'm going to need my Maths and English.

I realised that when I went to IBM for the four weeks there. They said they'd never give a job to someone who hasn't got English or Maths. That really hit me as I was literally the only person there without English and Maths. I thought that everyone else would get a job and I wouldn't.

I came back to City Gateway and I told my Careers and Progression Consultant I really need help, I really need to get through. I had about a month left. I went to about 45 Maths and English classes. I did my exams and I got my Maths and English.

City Gateway never forced me to do anything. But they helped me realise that I actually need to put my head down and start doing something in my life. Four or five different people spoke to me and they told me: "Imagine you haven't got Maths or English. You go for four or five job interviews. You don't get one. What are you going to do the following week?"

Once I did get my Maths and English, I saw so many job interviews swinging my way.

"City Gateway never forced me to do anything. But they helped me realise that I actually need to put my head down and start doing something in my life."

What would you say to the 17 year old version of yourself for whom school is not working?

I'd tell the 17 year old version of myself to find a place like City Gateway, a place like this. I'd tell him to put your head down and do what you have to do because if your mind is stuck 24/7 like mine was when I was 17, you are literally going to go nowhere. Everyone is going to say no to you. But if you've got everything they want, why are they going to say no to you? They'll say yes.

"I'd tell the 17 year old version of myself to find a place like City Gateway. I'd tell him to put your head down and do what you have to do."

What would you say to employers who should take on young people who don’t have degrees?

There might be someone out there who has got the grades but might not have the experience. So you're going to have to train them up. But look at someone like me. I have the experience but might not have the grades for it, but at least I know what I'm doing.

For example, Tim (who works for City Gateway) has known me a year. He's benefitted from seeing me grow. If there is another person just like me, he’d know exactly what to do with them. He's seen the change in me.

What does success feel like? What does the future for you look like?

It feels good. I never thought I'd be working at this stage of my life but I am. And it's only because of City Gateway.

My next step is to get on and gain as much experience as I can. There are many more jobs out there.

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