Now he is about to qualify as an IT tutor in further education. But his was not a planned change of career. While unemployed, hevolunteered to help at his local White City Community Project in Gloucester.
"One day I was approached because they knew of my background," he said. "I was asked if I would help out in one of the IT classes they had going. Then they asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a tutor myself." Eric, 51, has just taken the first stage of a City and Guilds certificate in FE teaching, and from this term he is taking word processing classes as a part-time tutor at Gloucestershire Neighbourhood College.
In doing so he becomes the first "home-grown" IT tutor produced by a burgeoning community education and training organisation that has grown organically out of deprived communities.
He now sees himself progressing in further education teaching, but wants to do it in his own community. He believes the use of local people like him is a valuable way to help learners who might find conventional college intimidating.
"There have been a few people I know personally who have always wanted to do a course, but they are a bit doubtful - maybe because they lack confidence or they didn't have a happy time at school.
"When they discovered that I was taking the course, they did enrol on it.
And that was purely because I knew them personally and they knew me. It's more of a family environment rather than college and student."