Apprentice Speaks: Jordan Walker – Hard Working apprentices get success.

Home Grown Creative, Digital & Marketing Talent

As part of our ongoing campaign to speak to apprentices, past, present and future to tell the stories of how Creative Alliance is allowing talent to forge the career they deserve.

Jordan Walker’s story is an example of how organisations have worked together to provide a climbing frame for local talent into the industry: from unemployed to McCann’s in under 3 years.

Jordan is young man from Handsworth who was unemployed in 2015. We asked him what he was doing before joining BBC’s Make it Digital with Creative Alliance:

“I studied Business Studies, I.T and Law at Aston Manor Sixth form and left with two distinction* and one distinction. As I received no help gaining work experience in my desired field, I found myself a placement at the marketing agency, Miromedia Limited doing web design for a week which opened my eyes to working at marketing agencies.

At the time I came across the Make it Digital course, I had taken a deferred year from Manchester Metropolitan. I wanted to use that time to develop my skills in web development and gain experience which I hoped would lead to getting hired quicker with a better job once I graduated. It wasn’t too long until I found out I could get an apprenticeship through Make it Digital which made it worthwhile dropping the traditional way of getting graduated before getting a job.”

The traineeship involved 5 weeks with Creative Alliance learning different digital skills from a curriculum developed by the BBC. This was followed by 3 weeks work experience. We talked about what his experience was on the Make it Digital Course:

“Before Make it digital, you would never ever find me standing up and talking in front of a large group of people….. My success in this gave me a new found confidence which I never knew I had in me, and impressed many of the employers.”

In Jordan’s case it did exactly that. His work placement was with Bareface, an agency based in Digbeth who had a long-standing partnership with Creative Alliance. MD Simon Morris explains:

 “We could see something in Jordan: he had an interest in the work that we could build upon. But he was by no means ready for a full-time job. There are ways of behaving in a professional work place that people must learn. We saw enough potential in Jordan to know it was worth us investing our time in him with the support from Creative Alliance and the apprenticeship is the perfect vehicle for that”.

Jordan remarked something similar:

“I believed what Bareface was doing was perfect for me, it was a small agency with a very experienced dev team I could really learn from. Coming in as an inexperienced web developer who could barely write CSS, colossal would be an understatement for the amount of knowledge I had learnt within that time. To summarise: I learnt PHP, JavaScript and SCSS to develop dynamic websites, I also learnt how to put WordPress sites together and how to build a LEMP environment for development, staging and production websites. Learning in the workplace helped developed these skills in a real world environment where I could immediately apply them.”

Once Jordan had successfully completed his twelve-month apprenticeship in May 2016 he was offered a fulltime position with Bareface as a junior web developer.

Jordan thrived in that role and was delivering increasingly challenging briefs for clients of the agency. As is inevitable in any well-connected industry sector Jordan started developing his own networks.

Confidence to seek out new challenges and opportunities with McCann: the largest agency in the region. In October 2017 he successfully secured himself a promotion to the role of Developer with McCann.

We asked Jordan why he felt he was able to get that move into McCann:

“Over the 2 years I spent at Bareface, I had accumulated various pieces of knowledge. I believe that this knowledge, combined with my experience and a strong desire to spread my wings by working on bigger projects is what made me succeesful in joining McCann. My responsibilities are pretty similar to what I did at Bareface, only with more weight added to them. I am also involved in more meetings with the team where we would discuss projects using AGILE methodology. I enjoy this because not only does it improve the communication amongst the team, it helps with getting to know my colleagues better. I also enjoy that I’m working on more than just WordPress projects now, we usually use Laraval to build our projects from the ground up which is much more fun and a bunch more to learn.”

There’s the example of partnership between employers and training providers creating the climbing frame for home grown talent for the region’s creative and cultural industries that cannot be denied. Jordans story is not an unusual one in the Creative Alliance office.

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