Leicester man lands first job in almost 15 years

A Leicester man has found work for the first time in his life – almost 15 years after leaving education with no qualifications.

Shoaib Narma, 30, who has some learning difficulties, had been on benefits since leaving full-time education in 2003 and only had one job interview and a handful of work experience placements before receiving tailored support from a new programme in the city.

Shoaib said: “Everything was fine when I was 17. I was in training but when I hit 18 I wasn’t and had to sign on. It wasn’t nice. I thought I’d get a job but I kept going around in circles. I didn’t know what to do. I kept getting some support but it wasn’t helping.”

But, after eight years without an interview and with his confidence in a downward spiral, Shoaib voluntarily signed up to the Links to Work programme in Leicester, run by employment, skills and offender rehabilitation provider Working Links.

Links to Work is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and European Social Fund and helps unemployed people over 25 across Leicestershire overcome their barriers and into work.

Shoaib was partnered with a team of personal consultants, including Duncan Bell who quickly recognised Shoaib’s potential and set about delivering a plan of action to first rebuild his confidence and then prepare him for suitable roles. Duncan also reworked Shoaib’s CV to reflect his previous voluntary work while employment services consultant Dan Middler worked closely with Shoaib and Duncan to source job opportunities suitable for Shoaib’s career aspirations. This hard work paid off within weeks, with Shoaib landing his first interview in years.

Despite being unsuccessful, Shoaib’s determination grew thanks to reassurance from the team working to support him. Soon after, the team sourced an opportunity at Leicester College working as a facilities cleaner and after impressing at interview, Shoaib was back in work and signing off benefits.

Shoaib added: “I got the support I needed. Duncan sat me down and went through everything with me in detail. He helped me make sure everything was done right and helped me with interview questions so I could prepare properly.

“Being in work is great. I have a lot more confidence now and I’m not claiming any benefits. I don’t depend on anyone for handouts any more. It’s the first time in more than ten years that I’ve not been claiming benefits and it feels great.”

Duncan said: “Once Shoaib had attended the first interview, the sense of achievement for him was shining through and we were so pleased that this experience had been pleasurable and empowering for Shoaib. Unfortunately, he was pipped at the post by someone with a little more experience.

“Together, we built on this experience to identify the role at Leicester College and gave him the tools he needed to apply and be successful. He put everything the team had worked on with him into practice.”

Dan said: “I’ve been very impressed with Shoaib and how he has applied himself every day. I’m over the moon that the interviewer recognised his talent and offered Shoaib the opportunity of paid work. He’s proved himself very capable and it’s great to see his confidence back. We look forward to continuing to work with Shoaib and support him in employment.”

The three-year Links to Work programme helps over 25s with multiple barriers to work, including those with health conditions, ex-offenders and older people.

Working Links, which has supported more than 300,000 people into work over the last 17 years, is working with a range of partners, including voluntary organisations, to deliver the programme.

To find out more about the programme, call 0800 917 9262.