Phil Pugh


Digital skills help Phil land his ideal job – and a starring role as one of our campaign heroes

When Phil Pugh, 55, first went to his local UK online centre a couple of years ago, he was unemployed and finding it hard to ‘get to where he wanted to be’. Now, thanks to the support he received, he’s developed his digital skills, found work and has built up so much confidence he’s encouraging others to do the same as one of our inspirational Get Online Week learners.

Phil says: “When I first came to the classes at my local centre, it was because I’d been recommended by the Jobcentre. At the time I was unemployed and on benefits because of my type 1 diabetes. I used to drive trucks and vans transporting heavy goods but due to my diabetes I had to give that up.

“To be honest I struggled with it for years, not telling anyone about it. It cost me a couple of relationships and my marriage. I was officially diagnosed in 1990 but I think it’d been affecting me for a couple of years before that. I’d leave the house and by the time I got to the end of the road I was already ravenous. It was horrible.”

Before he started learning digital skills, Phil had been out of work for years. He says: “I had just given up to be honest. I think coming to the centre gave me the kick up the backside that I needed. I had low self-esteem and low confidence, but since coming here, I guess you could say I’ve got too much confidence now! Nothing fazes me, nothing at all.”

Phil did all kinds of different courses at the centre, including a first aid course and the online learning through Learn My Way. He says: “I did all the courses on there and it was really good fun. No if and buts – it’s brilliant. It was such a useful tool for me. At first it was another gate to get through but the help I received at the centre was immense. Once I knew what to do with it, that was it – I was over the border and I could just carry on.

“I didn’t use computers in my previous job. Obviously I had a mobile phone but that was it. I just never fancied giving it a go. Back in the 90s, if I’d known the future of technology I definitely would have tried to learn more.

“When I first started learning, I didn’t really know what it did; what the keyboard did; what the different icons were for.”

Attending the centre and developing his digital skills was such a huge part of Phil’s journey back to employment. He says: “Everyone at the centre was really, really nice – you just got on with them. I used all the websites, like Universal Jobmatch and other job search sites. It can be a daunting process but you’ve just got to go for it. Sometimes, if you apply for 100 jobs, you might only hear back from one. I went for an interview for a job that I thought was perfect for me, but I didn’t get it. It was a real kick, but I came back and said ‘I’ll try again!’ And I did – I just kept going.”

Phil’s persistence and newly developed skills and experience meant that he was able to secure employment at a local firm doing what he loves – driving! He says: “I got a job and I know a big part of that was the confidence I gained by coming to the centre. I’m even able to use my digital skills in my new job as a courier. You can renew your driving licence online which is especially helpful in this line of work, and you can tax and insure vehicles. Having the knowledge to do that, for me, has been immense. Of course, I also need to be able to work a Sat Nav.”

Phil’s delighted to be part of this year’s Get Online Week campaign as one of our inspiring learners, encouraging others to give it a go too. He says: “It’s a digital age now and keeping up with technology really does make a big difference. Everything’s on the internet these days and if you struggle at first, you just have to keep trying.

“I can afford to keep my bike on the road now – I’ve got a car, which I didn’t have before. All I had when I came here was a push bike.

“I loved coming to my local UK online centre and I still visit if I’m on holiday from work. It really gave me something to aim for and I got there eventually. I didn’t think I would ever find work again, but I have and it’s been brilliant.

“There’s no boundaries when it comes to learning. In anything you do, if you get knocked back, you just need to make sure you bounce back again! Anything you can do to further yourself is always a good thing, and for me, I’m just so proud that I’ve been able to turn things around.”

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