An apprentice engineer who was worried his hearing loss would hold him back is encouraging other disabled people to apply for apprenticeships.

Ben Hamblett from Wrexham is an electrical and electronic engineering apprentice with ACE Lifts and works in a small team wiring lift component units.

The 28-year old achieved a HNC in Engineering at Glyndŵr University after leaving school but struggled to get into employment for five years, which resulted in him suffering from low confidence and anxiety.

Ben said: “I was worried about the future and not being in work. It reached the point where I knew I needed support, so I contacted Action on Hearing Loss (AOHL) for help. They were really useful and gave me practical advice on making phone calls to potential employers, interviewing techniques and how to state my disability on a job application.”

It was important for Ben to find an employer that would be supportive towards his deafness and so AOHL helped him identify a list of potential employers.

Ben added: “We found a company called ACE Lifts advertising engineering jobs. I was nervous about applying because some companies can have misconceptions about deaf people being a health and safety risk in the work place - especially in engineering roles.”

The job he had applied for involved working down a lift shaft where he would be required to follow the instructions of a colleague who would be positioned at the top of the lift.

Ben, who in his spare time enjoys producing music, said: “I went to meet ACE Lifts for an informal chat and during this, I realised that the role wasn’t suited for me as I may not have been able to hear the instructions. It was obviously disappointing but then they mentioned a Level 3 electrical and electronic engineering apprenticeship that was live and offered me a two-day work trial.

“After the trail I was offered the apprenticeship role. I was shocked when I got the call but overjoyed that I finally got a job after years of searching. I’m now nearly a year into my apprenticeship and I’m really enjoying it and have regained my confidence,’ he added.

Traditionally there has been under-representation from protected groups on the apprenticeship programme in Wales with only 1.5 per cent of apprentices declaring themselves as having a disability or health condition.

Almost all job sectors have apprenticeship programmes and the majority of apprenticeships can be made accessible for people with additional needs.

Workshop manager, Andy Gill said: “Ben was one of eight individuals who came in for a work trial for the apprenticeship opportunity. He instantly made an impression and we offered him the role. His hearing loss has not been a problem at all. When he first started, he shared his tips for communicating effectively with him and we haven’t needed to discuss it since.”

Ben is now hoping to show other disabled people that an apprenticeship could be the turning point for those looking to get into employment.

“Every day I’m learning new skills, I have learnt how lift equipment and components work and my hearing loss hasn’t been an issue at all. Not only that but my apprenticeship has meant that I’m also financially stable,” said Ben, who is also learning to speak Japanese.

“I’m so much more positive about the future now, and I can’t wait to see what the next year of my apprenticeship will bring.”

Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, said: “Ben is a perfect example of someone who has used an apprenticeship to gain the skills they need to get ahead in life. I’d urge anyone who is thinking about their next steps to consider an apprenticeship as a serious option.

“Apprenticeships provide individuals with a ladder of opportunity to ‘learn on the job’, earn a wage and build a long-standing career, and stories like this prove that apprenticeships offer many opportunities.

“For the businesses, apprenticeships are a proven way to tailor an employee’s skill-set to meet the specific demands of a business, leaving employers across Wales with a ready-made talent pool that can rise up through the ranks to management roles”.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

For more information about becoming an apprentice search Working Wales Apprenticeships or call 0800 028 4844.