Ian Johnson, 50, from Loughborough had been out of work for four years after being made redundant from an IT role in 2009. Having worked in IT since he left school, he was keen to return to the industry he loved but was finding it hard.
After joining learndirect on the Work Programme he began to consider setting up his own business and following continued support from learndirect’s enterprise team was able to set up his own IT consultancy business in 2014.
Ian said, “I’d worked for numerous companies in an IT role since leaving school in the early 80s. When I was made redundant, it came as a complete surprise.
“A combination of the recession and my age made it nigh on impossible to get back into work. I was constantly told I was too well qualified for roles or not qualified enough. It was beginning to feel like IT was a young man’s game.
“After three or four years unemployed, I’d had enough and Jobcentre Plus referred me to learndirect on the Work Programme.
“It was here they asked me if I’d ever considered self-employment. I’d never really thought about it when I’d been in work and was initially apprehensive about how it would work financially but I decided it was worth a go.
“I got help with lots of things I’d never had to think about when working for someone else, like all the legal side of things I’d need to complete like paperwork, public liability and that sort of thing. I got support from someone who’d been self-employed himself and that was invaluable.”
During this time, Ian was able to undertake a period of test trading for 26 weeks which enabled him to test the market full time while still receiving benefits, which provided a safety net. Although trading was initially slow, Ian maintained a positive attitude and was able to register as self-employed in March 2014.
Ian said, “My business is as an IT consultant so I do computer repairs, software and hardware installation and that type of thing. It’s going brilliantly. It was a bit quiet to start with but things have really picked up over the last few weeks.
“As well as the support, learndirect helped pay towards some of the set up costs which really helped. I’m enjoying being self-employed. There are pros and cons of every job but there are lots of advantages such as being able to choose your own working hours.”