When Peter Amoroso, now 61, found himself unemployed, he struggled to find a new job. Having done everything from metal fabrication to driving and general retail, he felt his skills and his age were both working against him.
He says: “I knew my skills needed updating and that I needed to learn about IT if I had any chance of getting back to work. I felt people took one look at me and judged me by my age. Although my CV was up-to-date it lacked any IT skills whatsoever – with these they’d have had a harder time dismissing my applications. The fact is that these days you can’t even look for a job without computer skills, and you can’t do most jobs without them either. I asked around and I found out all about SWEDA – a UK online centre. They specialise in IT, Employability and Business Advice, and I’ve not looked back since I walked through the doors.
“I’ve always loved learning, and I’ve found learning about computers and the internet so useful. It’s really opened up a new world view for me. What’s more, the people at SWEDA are brilliant, and I’ve been very fortunate to have their help and support. My only problem was that I couldn’t spend all my time at the centre, and I don’t have a computer or internet access at home to practice on, in fact I don’t even have a TV! So when SWEDA told me about these free Vodafone devices going out on loan, with free mobile data, I decided to try one out.
“I have to admit to being a bit sceptical at first. I don’t believe in technology for its own sake – that’s why I don’t have a TV, it’s somewhat repetitive. I remember asking my nephew why these smartphones and tablets don’t come with a book of instructions. But having the tablet and internet access at home has been something of a revelation, and you don’t need an instruction manual because once you’ve got the basics of the touchscreen it’s actually all quite intuitive – and addictive. You don’t have to look at dancing cats and dogs on YouTube – you can look at what you want to, when you want to, where you want to. You’ve got this tiny device, but you can go anywhere and everywhere on it. I literally get lost in it and find myself staring at the screen literally going around the world from the comfort of an armchair.”
For Peter, one of the most enjoyable aspects of learning about the computer is being able to do his artwork electronically. He continues: “I’ve always dabbled with a bit of design, but there’s so much more you can do with a computer! I’ve learned to do all sorts of things, and next year I’m hoping my skills will have got to the point where I can actually take on a graphic design course at the local college. The tablet has a camera – which I also don’t have at home – so that’s been something else that’s added to my new portfolio. The last time I did any serious photography was a photography O-level course in the 70s.
“Being unemployed is not a lot of fun. But as well as getting admin skills for my CV, learning about computers has also brought out my creative side, and that’s been wonderful. I’ve been able to tour art museums around the world too – the Prada gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York – all the places I’ll now probably never get to see in person.
“But it’s not just my hobbies and CV that have benefitted. I also take the tablet out and about and find myself just using it. Searching the ‘web’ whenever I’ve seen something that interests me, pulling up a map if I get lost, checking opening times for shops on the move – all that sort of thing. It really does just put the world at your fingertips, and in your pocket.
“I’m always very careful about other people’s things, so I have been a bit cautious with the tablet, and probably not used it to its full potential. Fortunately when I have got stuck on something and don’t want to just experiment for fear of breaking it, I can always call the friendly staff at SWEDA. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll shed a tear when it’s time to give it back. I’ve loved having it – and the entire world – everywhere I go.
“On the bright side, now I know how useful it is and how to use it, when the time comes and I can afford one, I’ll definitely get one. I can walk into any shop now and know what I’m talking about, and get something that suits me. And I know it’s well, well worth it. It’s like what they used to say about the BBC – it educates, entertains, and informs. And I’d certainly recommend it to anyone.”
To find out more about this pilot project between Tinder Foundation and Vodafone, please email firstname.lastname@example.org