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ITV Wales apprentice says his hearing loss hasn’t stopped his ambition to work in TV

To celebrate International Week of the Deaf, Safyan Iqbal, an apprentice at ITV Wales is encouraging others to consider apprenticeships as a route into a successful career.

The 22-year-old from Cardiff was selected from hundreds of applicants for a full-time apprenticeship role at ITV Cymru Wales’ waterfront HQ in Cardiff Bay last summer, and since beginning his course, says his apprenticeship has been the best experience of his life.

The creative apprentice was born with poor hearing, which worsened over time until he had surgery aged 11 to fit a cochlear implant which helped him to hear more clearly.

Safyan said: “Communication is the most difficult thing when you have hearing loss. I love talking with people – it’s the best thing about the job. I’ve always wanted to work in TV and I was worried that being deaf might be a barrier to that – but I’m proving that it’s not the case.”

Safyan studied for a Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Creative Media Production at Bridgend College before moving on to work at ITV Cymru Wales to undertake a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media.

He’s now on his way to completing his apprenticeship, during which he’s learnt a variety of skills including how to operate cameras and shoot and edit as part of his ambition to become a camera operator or filmmaker.

He continued: “Every person with a hearing impairment is different but when I started work, I wanted to give my colleagues some suggestions that worked for me, so that nobody felt awkward asking,” said Safyan, who lives in Cyncoed.

He said: “I suggested that people talk to me face-to-face, don’t turn their head away, and try not to mumble. I can’t follow group talks when everyone speaks at once – when this happens I feel isolated and left out.  If people want to include a deaf person in group chats, they need to be mindful of speaking one at a time, and when a topic changes, let them know.

“I love being an apprentice because I’m learning from doing. An apprenticeship really works for me because I’m always hungry for learning – but this is totally different from school or college. Each day is different. I get to watch camera operators at work, go on cool locations, and create my own films. It’s the best experience. I’m having so much fun and I wouldn’t be on my way to having a successful media career without my apprenticeship.”

Safyan hopes his experience will show other disabled people that apprenticeships can be key to a successful career.

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

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

Safyan’s line manager, ITV Cymru Wales Operations Manager Nia Britton, said: “Safyan’s one of four apprentices and he joined us on merit. We loved his personality and his work ethic – he’s one of the most hard-working people I know and has a huge passion for filming and editing. He’s a great person to be around and he teaches us a lot. We make no assumptions about his ability and we’ll help him as much as he needs it.”

The Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates said: “Safyan 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