Keifer lives in Brent and works as a Digital Analyst. Here he shares his story of London life, including experiences of apprenticeships, both good and bad, and how the Moving on Up programme has inspired him to push for change for young Black men in London.
My name's Keifer. I used to live in South London, Peckham. At the moment I'm living in Wembley. I'm 24 years old (at times I forget, but I’m often reminded by others) but yes, I'm 24. I didn't attend university. I just went straight into the world of work and came a long way and I am here. Well, I'm working as a Digital Analyst at the moment.
After college, I went into retail. I told my mother I didn't want to go into university straight away because I didn't know exactly what I was passionate for. I took a while to discover what I liked. Looked at a few things at home, did training and stuff like that. I decided I wanted to do web development. I found an apprenticeship, well, struggled to find one and I found one for a while in web development and that didn't go well at all.
I don't want to say exploit, but I feel like it was exploitation in a sense. We were just seen as cheap workers that wanted experience in a company that didn't have anyone experienced to help us. Literally I was going day after day, practicing web development rather than learning, I had to go and discover everything myself independently. There was no form of guidance to say, okay, this is how you do this or this is how you do that, or anyone to help with training. It was literally just, "Okay, this is what we want you to do. Do it."
It was very, very low paid. It took a lot of sacrifices just to go there as well in the sense of, I lived in south London, this was all the way in Hendon so it was a travel. By doing it, I lost a lot of money and gained very little, and because of that, I just-- at the time I loved web development but, yes, the experience there really did put me off it.
When I went onto the first initial apprenticeship, it was more, okay, straight into the deep end, no support. The second one I went on was, okay, you're in the deep end but we are all here with you, and we're professionals so we know exactly what's happening. Just being with them and learning from them as well, just growing as a team really.
A good apprenticeship would be, for example, the digital marketing one that I went on with a knowledgeable team that can feed you knowledge, feed you information, there to support, there to help. Making them feel, okay, not everything is on you, but we are going to give you responsibility over time, just to see you grow in a sense. You're going to have guidance from a specified manager. As long as you're growing, we're happy with it. I think that's one of the things that, especially as a young person, I was missing.
I found Moving on Up (MoU) when I was in my admin role or just before the admin role. I was, obviously, at the job centre and everything. The recruitment company that was there, they said, "Okay, you're very well put together and we have a programme for young Black men that would be very beneficial to you. We're on the programme, we support young Black men to get into job roles and everything."
A good apprenticeship would be making you feel not everything is on you, but we are going to give you responsibility over time to see you grow. As long as you're growing, we're happy with it. I think that's one of the things that, especially as a young person, I was missing.
Through that, I got into my admin job and worked with the team, progressed, and attended the MoU meetings to then drive support and change through the programme. It gave me a lot more confidence being a young Black man seeing that I could also drive change. Throughout the rest of my life from joining the programme, that's been something that I've wanted to do, support with change and in changing the mind of bigger companies, people that are in places that don't really get experience with much young Black men, because I've always felt and proven or-- yes, point has been proven multiple times, that people do think a certain way about young Black men.
As soon as anything would be done by myself, it would be judged or I'd go into work sometimes not feeling like I was doing good enough. It really did help to in myself know that I am here to bring change for everyone else in a sense so, yes.
It's helped me with my confidence a lot because I think especially in interviews and everything beforehand I was so closed off about my experience and especially working experiences like I don't know how to present myself best or how to present myself better than everyone else. Now it's like, I can actually confidently do that. I'm not just experienced, but I can actually speak about my experience. I can show that knowledge. I'm just happy knowing that there is something there for me. Long-term, I know things are going to be great, really.