A Redcar man is on the way to achieving his dream job thanks to support from Coast & Country’s New Directions programme and Redcar & Cleveland Council’s Routes to Employment scheme.
Charlie Whitfield, 23, approached New Directions, which is part of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and funded by the European Social Fund, while he was already partway through the recruitment process to become an air traffic controller.
After passing aptitude and psychometric testing, the results of Charlie’s routine medical examination meant two further tests were required, at a cost of £720 including doctor’s fees.
Although the total cost exceeded the maximum budget it could provide, New Directions funded the cost of the doctor’s fees and brokered a funding arrangement with partner agency, Routes to Employment, to fund one of the additional tests. Charlie was able to pay for the remaining test through savings and family support.
As his medical tests have been successful, Charlie will soon fly to Spain for six months of training before completing the remainder of the college course in the UK. He will then be positioned at a British airport or area control centre.
The New Directions team works with businesses and young people aged 15 – 29 who are not in work, training or education. Services include advice and guidance, mentoring, apprenticeships, further education and work placements to help individuals meet the needs of local employers.
Charlie said: “The process to become an air traffic controller is complex. The role has a lot of responsibility and because of that, a controller must be in extremely good health and alert at all times, which is why the medical examinations are so important.
“I applied for the air traffic controller position on a whim, but I am so glad I did. I am very excited to start my career as an air traffic controller and am extremely grateful for the help I have received along the way from both New Directions and Routes to Employment.”
Peter Venis, YEI Advisor at Coast & Country, added: “Charlie is a great example of someone who can benefit from the services New Directions has to offer. Although we help people find work placements, job opportunities and training, we can also provide funding for qualifications, clothes for interviews, work travel expenses or medical tests, as in Charlie’s case.
“There is an issue with low aspiration for young people in the area, meaning many would not have had the confidence to even apply for a position like this in the first place. Charlie is proof that if you apply yourself, you can make things happen.
“I hate to see people missing out on opportunities because they don’t believe in themselves or they are not as financially fortunate as others. It’s great that we could help Charlie with the funding and give him an equal chance. I hope Charlie’s story will inspire others and we wish him all the best in his new career.”
Councillor Craig Hannaway, Cabinet Member for Children, said: “Charlie is an inspiration for young people across our borough.
“He has shown that with the right support and determination our young people and all our residents can take advantage of opportunities and achieve their goals.
“I would like to wish Charlie all the best in the future and I hope his career really takes off.”
• Pictured above: Peter Venis YEI Advisor from Coast &Country, Charlie Whitfield and Gavin Smith Employment Funding Coach, R&C Council.