From unemployment to Thurrock Council: James’ journey with Inspire

James, 22, is a Digital Media Apprentice for Thurrock Council’s Inspire Youth Hub… but it wasn’t always this way.

Before joining Thurrock Council, James was supported by Inspire through a difficult period in his life when he was unemployed and lacking direction.

Here he shares his story in the hope it’ll inspire others to seek the excellent support available to achieve their goals. Take it away, James…

So I’m going to start back at college where I did a creative media games development course and came away with triple distinction star – the best grade possible. Now before you think I’m being big headed, it wasn’t all ‘fun and games’: I worked very hard to get those grades.

2 Track Maniac HUD Digital and Drawing
Here’s the drawing and digital concept art of a racing game I designed.


3 3ds max Scene 5 wireframe with render
Wireframe of a 3D scene and a final render in the corner of a maze escape game I created.

After all that work, I felt like I’d earned a break before getting a job and starting a career. Weeks turned to months and then as I started to look for jobs I thought I’d be interested in, I couldn’t find many. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted it to be techy and creative. The few jobs I did apply for I didn’t get anywhere with, so I lost motivation and wasn’t doing much.

After months of going to the gym, playing video games and failing to become the next big YouTuber, I found out about Inspire (it used to be called Connexions back then), gave them a visit and spoke to a careers advisor. They helped me improve my CV and look for jobs, but they also suggested I sign up for the 12-week Prince’s Trust Team Programme (you can find out more about the Prince’s Trust Team programme from this blog post I’ve written).

3 Prince's trust charity
Team 9 raising money for our community project by hosting a cake sale at the South Ockendon Centre.

Joining Prince’s Trust was a great experience. It helped me a lot with employability, teambuilding and communication skills. It also motivated me to keep trying to get to the next steps of my career.

4 Prince's Trust Community Project
Redecorating on the community project, at the Alf Lowne Scout hall in Grays.

Afterwards I also completed the Prince’s Trust Get Started with Robotics course, which was run by John Finlay. He previously was a contestant on Robot Wars and later ran the live tours of the show. It was a lot of fun and also helped with my confidence.

5 Robotics course matilda.JPG
Yes I am a bit of a geek and wanted a picture with Matilda, a house robot from Robot Wars.


The lack of vacancies for the positions I really wanted was outside of my control, so my careers advisor suggested I broaden my search and look at business administration apprenticeships as well.

This is when I saw a vacancy at Thurrock Council where the job description sounded much better than other business admin vacancies. Also it was local, so I wouldn’t have to spend money on transport.

Again I had a lot of support and guidance from my careers advisor, who helped me apply, secure an interview, and prepare for it. And so I had my first ever interview… and got the position!

I did a Level 2 Business Administration diploma while being a Development Apprentice for a team working within Human Resources (basically we were the team that delivers training to staff). I hoped to stay after my apprenticeship ended and start a new apprenticeship for a Level 3 diploma, but unfortunately there wasn’t a position available and I had to look for another position.

I started off by looking at the Council’s vacancies. I remember the week well because it was Tuesday that I got the news they couldn’t keep me on and then I saw this Digital Media Apprenticeship based at Inspire Youth Hub. I knew straight away it was the one.

The responsibilities looked really good, I knew about Inspire because I had used their services previously, and I knew how rare these opportunities are for digital-related apprenticeships in Thurrock. The reason why I remember this week so well was because the deadline for the application was the Friday and I was busy studying for my driving theory test on Thursday. I probably gained my first few grey hairs in the process of that week!

I actually went back to Inspire and got my careers advisor to help me apply for a role within their own building (because why not). After a very stressful week, I managed to get my second ever interview… and got the position!

So here I am now, the Digital Media Apprentice at Inspire. My main roles include creating content for our social media, creating posters and videos, taking photos for marketing/PR, and promoting everything Inspire does. All of this alongside doing my coursework one day a week for my Level 4 Digital Marketing qualification.

8 Grangewaters marketing photos.JPG
Taking marketing photos are definitely one of the more fun parts of the job. Here I’m at Grangewaters and got to go on a speedboat to take pictures of the zip-line activity!

Contact Inspire today to start your journey.

You can check out the webpage for Thurrock Careers at
Phone: 01375 413735
Address: Inspire Youth Hub, 24-28 Orsett Road, Grays, Essex RM17 5EB

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