Kriston Williams

Before joining Unlocking Potential, I was caring for my mother. She had been in and out of hospital and was quite poorly. Before that, I was at college doing my IT Level 3 but I had to drop out to look after my mum. I was just claiming JSA so not doing anything really.

Everything was a helpful part of the programme, particularly the projects. They really take you out of your comfort zone. The fact that I got up and spoke and gave a presentation was impressive. I’ve never done that before.

The best bit about project based learning was the different experiences, roles and challenges we got to do. It was also the ‘end result’ when you can see how much you have achieved and the successes of your efforts in just 3 weeks. Everyone was happy we did it.

The most challenging thing about the programme was the 2-week work placement. This is when I had some family issues that I had to deal with, but at the same time my experience of the 2-week work placement was positive. Learn Direct was great and I got to do so much. It felt like real life and made me realise what I wanted to do as a job. As soon as I could, I started looking for IT apprenticeships. I’m lucky enough to now be doing this in a great company where they really get me.

Before joining the programme, I didn’t think of IT as a career. It was just something I was good at. I was thinking I should look in to retail as a job because it was easier to get into.

I have loved it here at Unlocking Potential. It’s because there are smaller groups and more time for 1:1 support and also the approach is completely different. I have seen my confidence grow too. It’s been good that sometimes I’ve been the one helping other students. That has reinforced my learning.

There is also something about how we’re supported when it gets tough. I felt I always had someone to talk to that got me, understood me and helped me to plan. All of the staff members are looking out for you, so you could speak to anyone and everyone.

I couldn’t have done this without Melody, one of the young people in the group too.

I have achieved so much on the programme. I graduated with qualifications! It’s been tough. I’m glad I did it though. Since graduating, I have continued to get support, but in a different way. It was so good to have the team come and visit me at my employers to see how I was getting on. When I told the team I had already gotten a salary raise they were really pleased for me. I had to leave them a little early as I was off to another meeting. That made me feel quite grown up and important. I know they were impressed with my attitude and positivity. It was everything I learned whilst on the programme. I’m looking forward to having some of the young people on the next programme have a placement with me and then I can share my experiences and ‘pass it on’.

My overall experience of the programme has been amazing. If I had not done this, I would still be lost. I’d be going to the JCP and getting nowhere. From here, I have qualifications and experience. That is great.

My advice to someone starting the programme would be to relax, try all the different things on offer, stay focused and take all the support that’s on offer – it’s genuine.

“When Kriston joined the programme you could tell that he was very passionate about IT and that he had great potential in this field. With the right advice and guidance, combined with the varies elements of the programme, he was able to unlock his skills and passion. He worked tremendously hard throughout the programme and reaped the rewards of his hard work. He now has an amazing role as a Service Desk Apprentice. He has received great reviews from his employer and they have rewarded his great work with a pay rise in the first 2 months. I am sure he will succeed in his career and be a great professional in the future.” ~ Nishan Rajput, Unlocking Potential Caseworker