Peter's Story

Image of three people sat outside

Peter, 22, from Manchester is a Software Development Apprentice at the BBC, a job he started in September 2016 after six months on Greater Manchester Talent Match.

Peter also volunteers to act as a representative for the BBC, visiting high schools to talk about his role and the apprenticeship programme.

Peter, who has an autistic spectrum condition, applied to the apprenticeship after being sent a link to the Opportunities Hub by his Talent Coach, Amy Stott from United Response.

Before meeting Amy, Peter had been unemployed for over a year. He describes the difference the programme has made to his life, “Being on Talent Match has helped me become much more professional. I’d never really had a true professional role before this one. I think I’m more emotionally mature too.”

Peter says that although many people have told him that it’s obvious that he’s a very talented programmer, he had been unable to find work in the area before now. He said, “I wasn’t being given the opportunity by technical companies because I haven’t got a degree. I found it very difficult to get even an interview before.”

Peter is very complimentary to the BBC for their support, particularly around his Asperger Syndrome, a type of autism. He explains, “Early in my role, my team manager explained that a few other members of the team were concerned by me not making eye contact, worried that I was not concentrating on what they were saying.”

Peter’s team leader then contacted Amy for support. Amy offered the manager some support tips and advice around Peter’s condition and how best to support him. Amy also discussed the situation with Peter and he said he would reveal to the team that he had Aspergers.

He explains, “They’ve been completely understanding and supportive of it.”

As his Talent Coach, Amy also arranged with the BBC to attend Peter’s interview with him to support him.

David Longworth, Apprenticeships and Training Schemes Manager at the BBC in Salford, explains, “We’ve made a public commitment that 10% of our positions will go to people with a disability, which reflects the levels in the population. If people disclose on their application form, we have an internal disability specialist – who herself has a disability – who is able to be sympathetic and understand the barriers they may have.”

Peter was hugely complementary of the interview process. He explains, “Technical interviews will usually ask you very technical questions and even if you’re skilled in the subject, you can get thrown in the heat of the moment. At the BBC, they focused on the logic behind it, rather than simply implementing it, so you could prove you understood the concepts of computer programmes, rather than having to come up with code on the spot.”

David explains that this way of interviewing allows the BBC to identify those with a passion and interest in the subject. He says, “With an apprenticeship, you’re not looking for somebody who can do the job now, you’re looking for somebody who will be able to do it at the end of their apprenticeship. We’re looking to tap into that potential and finding the passion and commitment towards it.”

David concludes, “The BBC is paid for by everyone, so we should be reflecting everyone, both on screen and behind screen. Local organisations like Talent Match, are doing great work and finding talent like Peter, so it’s important we keep those local connections going.”

In his spare time, Peter is also working on his own game at the moment, which he plans to release via open source in the future.

Read more stories from people involved in Greater Manchester Talent Match by clicking here.