Coaching vulnerable candidates for Apprenticeships: Ben’s Story

Ben was an academic student, expecting good GCSE grades.  Due to autism he suffered from anxiety.  This had a big impact on his studies, and so he had an education health care plan (EHCP).  Ben received extra time and a scribe in exams. He also received extra support from a teaching assistant throughout his time in school.  From Year 9 onwards, he attended careers interviews ahead of his EHCP.

During his Year 9 careers appointment Ben played with a piece of paper while talking because it helped him concentrate.  By the end of his interview he had created an ornate origami bird – he told me he did this a lot during lessons. We identified that he liked making things, was good at close, precise working and that engineering was one of his favourite subjects.

Exploring options

In Ben’s Year 10 careers appointment we explored his post-16 options. These included colleges and courses around Manchester and apprenticeships. Ben was still interested in engineering, particularly precision work, but was also looking at more artistic engineering roles – so we explored career ideas like architectural technician and design engineering and the career routes into both.

Torn between an apprenticeship and sixth form

By Year 11 Ben was becoming anxious about leaving school. At his request, his teaching assistant attended his careers meeting and we discussed what he wanted to do. Ben was torn between an apprenticeship and staying on at sixth form where he would know the teachers and continue with some support.

After exploring the pros and cons of each option, we advised Ben to apply for college and monitor the National Autism Society website for opportunities.  We also offered to help Ben with his applications if needed. We arranged a meeting for Ben and his Mum – an engineer herself – to discuss support in finding an apprenticeship.  

Ben’s mum suggested that a quiet office environment in a small firm would best suit his strengths, skills and anxiety issues.  Finding such a specific opportunity presented a challenge. I suggested that Ben and his mum attend an open day with an engineering training provider who might be able to suggest a suitable employer based on Ben’s needs.  I also helped Ben to compile a CV and we discussed job searching, applications and interviews.

Next steps

Ben did well in his GCSEs and he and his parents decided he should stay on to study engineering at sixth form. After a few months it became clear that the demands of the course were having a detrimental effect on Ben’s mental health.  Despite working with Ben, his family and the school on a support plan, Ben’s parents decided he should leave his course.  I held meetings with Ben during his last days at sixth form.  We talked about the apprenticeship options explored in Year 11 and I resent this information to Ben and his Mum with an offer of my support if he needed it.

Earlier this year, I met Ben at the school’s careers fair. I discovered he was there representing the training provider we had discussed at school.  He had signed up with them for an apprenticeship and they had found him a suitable employer and was very happy. He relished the opportunity to show the students at his former school that he had now started work.

Speak to one of our experts

One of our consultants will get back to you

    Thank you for submitting the form, a member of the team will be in touch shortly