Creative designer with autism attributes his apprenticeship to career success

Following the first anniversary of the launch of the Welsh Government’s Disability Action Plan for Apprenticeships, an award-winning 26-year-old apprentice from Thornhill, Cardiff, praises his apprenticeship for helping to turn his dream of a career in the creative industry into a reality.

In 2017, Thomas Watkins achieved a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media (Interactive Media Pathway) while working for White Hart Multimedia, a company that specialises in corporate video production.

Two years on, he’s now completed his apprenticeship and has secured a role as a lead designer at Caerphilly-based sports teamwear company Belief Sports.

Thomas said: “After I finished my apprenticeship, I started to look for roles where I could use my creative skills. I knew I wanted to be a designer so once I’d finished at White Hart Multimedia I did some freelance design work until I was confident enough to apply for a permanent role.

“I came across a role at Belief Sports, a company that create and design bespoke sports teamwear across the UK and globally. I was offered the job as a designer and I haven’t looked back since.”

Named the 2018 Creative Industries Apprentice of the Year at the Quality Skills Alliance Awards in Cardiff, Thomas works in a small team designing the graphics for touch and traditional rugby and football teams’ sportwear across the world.

Living with an autistic spectrum disorder hasn’t been an issue in the workplace and to help with his confidence, Thomas receives on-going support when communicating to employees and clients.

“I was worried that my disability would affect my progression, but it hasn’t stopped me getting to where I want to be. Day-to-day I work on multiple projects, working closely with the senior manager. I am given the flexibility to push forward with my own ideas and I’m using the skills I learnt throughout my apprenticeship to tackle problems with creative thinking,” Thomas added.

“Completing my apprenticeship was one of my greatest achievements in my professional life and I am proud of my progression. One day I’m hoping to work on projects that have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Mason Najmi, Managing Director at Belief Sports, said: “Thomas joined the team earlier this year and we couldn’t be more pleased with the contribution he’s made to the team. His creative flair is exactly what we needed to inject some fresh ideas into our products. His disability wasn’t and hasn’t been a cause for concern and when we hired him, we made sure that he has access to any additional support he needs.

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