Cameron discovered a different way of learning was available to him, and after pushing himself out of his comfort zone, he is now looking forward to his future.
Starting a traineeship
Cameron, from Milford Haven, secured himself a work placement with national importers of Hyundai Power Equipment, Genpower after leaving his mechanics course in college and embarking on a Traineeship.
Six months into his placement, Cameron said: “I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m on placement four days a week working in dispatch and helping get orders ready to go out from Pembroke Dock.
"For me, the whole experience has been completely different to college. It’s been challenging but also positive, and it’s really boosted my confidence.”
Changing learning environments
After initially studying mechanics in college for six weeks, Cameron (17), who was diagnosed with anxiety around three years ago, found he wasn’t enjoying his time in college and planned to leave his course with no plans for what he might do instead.
He explained: “I found college really overwhelming. The classes were too busy with too many people and too much going on which just made my anxiety much worse.
"I had no idea there were other options out there for me and so I thought the only thing for me to do was to drop out of college as I just wasn’t enjoying it. Looking back at how I felt then compared to where I am today, I’m in a much more positive space.”
After doing some research, Cameron and his mum discovered a local training provider in Pembrokeshire, and Cameron began a Traineeship just before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
Facing the challenges
Cameron said: “When I started the Traineeship, straight away it was a totally different experience to my time in college. It was much quieter for a start, which was exactly what I needed. I had one on one support, with lots of help for my anxiety as well as support with things like writing CVs and covering letters, as well as learning different things to help with job interviews.”
However, when the lockdown began, Cameron’s experience began to take a turn for the worse and he became increasingly withdrawn and found it difficult to focus, with a lot of home learning on the computer.
“My anxiety was there before, but the pandemic definitely heightened it. I knew I had to push myself to try and so I started coming up with different coping strategies and trying to overcome it. I started going out more by myself, and going into shops by myself, which is something I wouldn’t normally do.”
Turning things around
With the support from his training provider combined with his own efforts and support from his mum at home, Cameron’s attendance dramatically improved, resulting in a 100% attendance record. He also began welcoming other learners into his group and supporting them to settle in.
When an opportunity arose, Cameron put himself forward for a group placement interview with Pembroke Dock based Genpower.
Cameron said: “I was a bit worried about standing out next to the other three people who were on the placement interview with me, but when it came to the interview I was surprised at how confident I actually felt. I was able to put everything I’d learned into practice and the tips and advice I was given through the Traineeship really paid off. When I was then offered the placement alongside one of the others from the interview, I couldn’t believe it, but I was really proud of myself!”
“When my placement ends, I’m hoping to get my level 2 qualification and then will be looking for a permanent job.
“Throughout this process I’ve learned that just because one way of learning isn’t right for you, it doesn’t mean another won’t be.
"You don’t have to give up because there’s always another option. If anyone else was in my position I’d encourage them to do their research and see what else is out there for them because doing that has made a huge, positive difference for me.”