Daisy Chain iStation apprentice

From a supported work placement to a full apprenticeship – Connor O’Reilly is delighted to be going places with Apple support specialist iStation.

Connor, 20, was taken on by the Stockton company with support from Daisy Chain, in 2018. The charity became iStation’s first business contract in 2014. The partnership is ongoing to this date so owner Bryan Holmes was keen to support Daisy Chain.

When an extra pair of hands was needed in the expanding business, he had no hesitation of offering an opportunity to a young person on the autistic spectrum.

And Connor has proved just how much can be achieved – Bryan has worked with him to find a course which will support the apprenticeship and Connor now works Monday to Thursday at iStation then attends Middlesbrough College every Friday to study a Level 3 Cisco certification. Connor will also be undertaking the required Apple certifications to complement the existing skills and expertise within iStation, the only certified member of Apple’s Consultant Network in the North East.

Bryan explains, ‘I am very pleased we were able to access an apprenticeship for Connor. Once he started with us, we could see his potential and we didn’t want to lose him. When he first started at iStation, he would work on repairs but he struggled to be confident enough in a customer facing role. Now he has a full apprenticeship, he needs to learn all aspects of the business and he has now gained the confidence to have face to face engagement with customers. It has been fantastic to see Connor overcome that barrier and grow in confidence.’

Connor says, ‘I am really enjoying it – it’s like people say ‘if you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work’.

‘When I started at iStation, I didn’t expect to get this far but I am pleased I have. When I first started, I was mainly doing repairs but now being full-time there are more opportunities to solve lots of different problems and I have got more confident with customers, I’m actually enjoying that side of it now as well.’

Connor, who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, adds, ‘It’s great to have a job and to have something to do. Before, I didn’t have much to do and I wanted to work. It is hard to find a good job. People think that in a modern day and age, autism should not be a barrier but in real life it doesn’t work out like that.’

Before taking Connor on a supported work placement, Bryan and business partner Kelly had been searching for an apprentice but trying to find the right person had become frustrating so they were delighted when Daisy Chain said they thought they had found the right person.

‘They were definitely right – Daisy Chain found us the right person and now we have the opportunity to help Connor grow within the business and receive training and support to be able to support our growing customer base,’ says Bryan. 

Daisy Chain’s work helping young people with autism into employment to combat isolation is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. For more information about supported work placements or if you are an employer who would be interested in a student work placement visit https://www.daisychainproject.co.uk/supported-work-placements