To celebrate 30 years of ACT, we’re sharing the stories of our learners past and present. This time we spoke to Phil Morris, Technical Co-ordinator at iTeach in Cardiff, who started as an IT learner with ACT in 1994.
Leaving school aged sixteen with no qualifications, Phil didn’t know what he wanted to do next. Struggling with reading and writing due to his dyslexia, he thought his aspiration of working in IT was merely a pipedream.
Thirty years later and Phil has worked his way up the career ladder in the IT industry, having worked at ACT Training for 22 years and iTeach for the past 2 years. We spoke to him about his journey with ACT:
“School was hard for me as it was very much pen and paper driven. My teachers knew I had issues with my English but there wasn’t much awareness of dyslexia then. I could do things at my own pace but it was frustrating not being able to get things down on the page.”
After Phil finished school, his father, a carpenter, took him along to a careers fayre, threatening to send him to the Army if he didn’t find a job that day. The first stand they came across was ACT. Founder and CEO Andrew Cooksley told him to come along to ACT the following Monday, and that was the start of Phil’s IT career.
“I was very lucky to come across people willing to help me. I remember being terrified when I first started but I grew in confidence with ACT. I was enjoying what I was doing, it came naturally to me, and I thought it was brilliant that I got to play around with computers every day.”
Phil’s experience was very different to that of his school friends, most of whom went back to school to complete their A Levels or went straight into jobs lined up for them through YTS based on their grades. He thought his only other option to pursue a career in IT was to go to the college in Barry to do Computing, but Phil said, “I was terrified I would make too many mistakes and not be able to do it.”
With ACT, Phil completed his NVQ Level 1 in IT, before progressing onto his Level 2 and 3, with work placements at various businesses including Arriva Trains. At that point in time, ACT’s primary focus were adult learners, but they were starting to train young people too, through the Youth Training Schemes (YTS). This meant that Phil was learning in a more adult environment alongside those trying to re-train in computing, often helping the other adults in the class with their tasks.
“I always had a knack for computers, and after my experience at school, it was great to find something I was good at. I never felt stupid at ACT. Everyone made me feel welcome and it was amazing to me that I was doing something I never thought I would do.”
“As the company grew, I was doing more and more jobs for Andrew and by 18 I was officially employed by ACT. One day he told me to start coming into work in a shirt and tie and I started helping out in the IT room with any issues. I even used to make him coffee and put his post on his desk, but Andrew would probably say I didn’t do it very well! If Andrew needed anything typed up on the computer I would do it – even though I was dyslexic! I’m sure I made many mistakes.
“He once asked me ‘How many mistakes can you make in one day Phil?’ And I said, ‘Well, I start early!’
“Andrew and Caroline saw something in me, I don’t know what, but where I am today is all down to them.”
Inspired by Phil’s story? Think an Apprenticeship or Traineeship could be for you? We’re here to help. We have hundreds of Apprenticeship vacancies from top Welsh employers who are looking for bright young candidates like you. We have connections with over 1,100 employers and continue to help over 6,500 young Welsh people a year achieve their career ambitions. What are you waiting for, apply now.