From education to employment

Traineeship is life-changing for Bath College student with Asperger’s Syndrome

A six-month traineeship with Somer Valley FM has made a big difference to the life of a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Jamie Marsden, from Keynsham, found a traineeship at the radio station through Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme.

During his traineeship, he learnt how to script a local news bulletin and read the lunchtime and afternoon news.

He has grown in confidence thanks to the support of radio station manager Dom Chambers and a job coach from Bath College.

As a result, Jamie has a new job as a data controller, is re-taking his A-levels to go to university, and plans to move into supported living.

Jamie, 22, said: “My traineeship started with an interview with Dom. Despite my difficulties, he engaged with me really well.

“I felt welcome and able to make a meaningful contribution. For the first time, I was actually excited to work.

“Asperger’s Syndrome is a disability which makes things like talking to other people and basic tasks really hard.

“This was especially true when it came to answering the phone or the door. I’d go into work every day hoping that I wouldn’t have to answer them.

“I did, and I improved. Thanks to my experiences at Somer Valley FM I got interviews for the first time in years.

“I also began to take charge of my life.”

Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme is aimed at young autistic people, aged 16 to 24, who want to be able to work independently.

Following Jamie’s success, Somer Valley FM has taken on three new trainees, with two trainees starting in May and another starting this month.

Jamie said: “When I applied for jobs I didn’t get to the interview stage.

“Jobs I was interested in I lacked a degree for and those jobs which would consider me did not match my aspirations. Sometimes I’d be turned away on the grounds of being overqualified.

“I was stuck in a downward spiral, but I leave my traineeship a changed man. On the last day of my traineeship I was interviewed by BBC Somerset.

“I never thought that would happen, it just goes to show how much of a difference six months can really make. I’m not the Jamie defined by my Asperger’s but a new Jamie defined by my aspirations.

“I am really proud to have done my traineeship at Somer Valley FM.”

Radio station manager Dom Chambers said: “My job is to facilitate an environment for others to get on and succeed with their aspirations.

“Jamie made the most of his traineeship and leaves us with a set of skills and expectations that would have surprised him six months ago.

“A lot of this was down to his drive and determination. I could not be more pleased that he leaves us going into a job he wants to do and wish him ongoing good fortune as he develops his career.”

Bath College Principal Matt Atkinson said: “Traineeships are a great way for employers and colleges to work with people to build confidence and give them the essential skills requited to get on the first rung of the career ladder.

“We are very pleased that we are able to work with Somer Valley FM on this joint programme and we wish Jamie well.”

Opportunities for traineeships at Somer Valley FM are available.

To find out more about Bath College’s pre-apprenticeship programme visit:

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