Police apprenticeship is brilliant for Bilal

During A Level and GCSE results weeks, we are celebrating student success stories across our Group and showcasing learners who have achieved great things. Mohammed Bilal Majeed has secured a police apprenticeship thanks to his hard work, determination and support from The Manchester College.

The Manchester College student Mohammed Bilal Majeed will be helping to keeping the city safe after being offered an apprenticeship with Greater Manchester Police.

The 26-year-old was born blind and has been studying a Level 2 Access to Employment course based one day a week at the College’s Centre of Excellence for Medical Sciences, at the Citylabs laboratory complex on Oxford Road.

Now Bilal, as he prefers to be known, is set to step up to the challenge of a front line police role when he starts his year-long apprenticeship as a 101 call handler. Subject to background checks, he will be helping members of the public with non-emergency matters from October.

Thanks to his determination and hard work, alongside the support received from The Manchester College’s Supported Learning Department and charity Pure Innovations, Bilal has shown his visual impairment is no barrier to employment.

Bilal has been a student at The Manchester College for the past five years and was most recently learning Employability Skills, such as job search and interview skills, as well undertaking a six months data entry role as part of a six month placement at Christie Hospital in Oldham. He uses a NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) screen reader to read out emails, and to create and fill in databases.

It was support worker Cordelia Newsome who helped secure the apprenticeship through Pure Innovations, a charity which supports disadvantaged or disabled people into employment or training.

Bilal passed an interview and two assessments, which involved listening to and recording messages, to secure the full time role.

He said: “Applying for jobs and not gaining employment over the past eight years has been quite difficult and frustrating, so it felt really good when I secured the apprenticeship. And my family are very proud of me.

“I’d always had an interest in working somewhere medical or in office admin, and to be honest never saw myself working for GMP, but I like a challenge! After six months in the role, I can apply for any internal positions so that will be my next aim.

The College has been a great help, especially my support worker Cordelia who has given me lots of ideas of where to apply for jobs and helping me with applications.

Jenny Barnard, Additional Learning Support Manager at the College, said: “The Supported Learning department works with learners with additional needs to ensure they have equal access to education and information, helping to level the playing field. 

“For learners like Bilal, who has been a college student on and off for many years, he gained many useful qualifications and skills, but continued to face barriers to employment due to his visual impairment. 

“However, he turned this around in 2017-2018, with the advocacy work and specialist input of the Visual Impairment support staff (most notably Cordelia Newsome) and the positive work our Supported Internships team do with Pure Innovations. This has given Bilal and many other learners the opportunity to showcase themselves to potential employers.

“It highlights the fact that their disability or learning difficulty is not a barrier to their becoming a successful and effective employee.”

Lisa Crank, Employment Officer at Pure Innovations, said: “Bilal currently volunteer’s at Beacon Counselling in Stockport two days a week with the admin team. He welcomes clients when they arrive, answers an intercom system and updates client details to the computer system using assisted technology. The feedback from the team is brilliant and he is a real asset to their team.

“In June, I saw that Greater Manchester Police were offering apprenticeships. Bilal attended three assessments, which included a one to one interview, a maths and English assessment, and telephone assessment, which he successfully completed.

“After background passing checks, he will be working at Stretford Police Station taking 101 calls while completing training units and assessments over 14months with Damar Training in Stockport. He will be supported in his role by an Access to Work by a job coach, will use a JAWS screen reader and he will be transported to and from work.

“Bilal has been trying to get paid employment for over eight years, filling in many applications but never reaching the interview process. He has overcome so many barriers and, with the right support, I know he will achieve his aspirations. Bilal has been a pleasure to work with and it has been great seeing him grow in confidence.”

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Mohammed Bilal Majeed