Asperger’s often caused Michael to get anxious when meeting new people. Following a number of courses with the WEA, he has grown in confidence. A career in the Merchant Navy awaits.

"I joined WEA courses to fill my time while looking for jobs. Most were with tutor Richard Marks, learning about the railways, the history of medicine, music and the Royal Navy, which proved very relevant to my chosen career in the Merchant Navy. Richard was excellent at delivering his lessons. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about what he teaches."

"The WEA has definitely helped to build up my confidence. I have Asperger’s and would often dry up when meeting new people. I’m fine once I get started, but I used to feel nervous"

The courses gave me lots of practice in talking to people I’m not familiar with. I now feel more at ease.

WEA learner Michael

"I recently started a Higher National Diploma in Nautical Science (Level 5), based at Southampton, where I’ll train for three years to become a qualified officer. As my training is sponsored, I won’t have debts at the end, which is a great bonus. There are three main areas of the Merchant Navy: cruising, ferries and freight. I was recommended to go for freight, as you get better training – which was lucky, as it’s my main area of interest anyway. As part of my training, I'll soon be boarding a Bulk Carrier in Qatar."

"I used to visit the seaside a lot growing up, as my grandparents lived on the Solent in Portsmouth. You could say that sailing is in the blood. My granddad worked as a trawlerman out of Liverpool, so his passion for boats must have rubbed off on me. As my surname suggests, I have Dutch heritage – and they were a great seafaring people. For such a small nation, the Dutch were incredibly talented and courageous, gaining dominance over Britain amongst others. Part of my family lived near Rotterdam, now the largest cargo port in Europe. During the sea based sections of my training, it will be on my wish list of ports to visit"

"To be part of the mariner family is a huge honour. I will always recommend the WEA as a great place to learn and meet interesting people, especially if you are looking for your next opportunity. My courses really helped to keep my brain active until the right job became available."

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About the author

Priyanki Patel

National Marketing Officer

Priyanki Patel is the National Marketing Officer at the WEA.