Nick Kennedy thought he was on the scrapheap when disability forced him to give up his job in construction three years ago. Now he has embarked on a second career in information technology with the help of new OCR qualifications for IT practitioners.
Mr Kennedy, 42, had worked in the construction industry since leaving school, but he had to give up heavy physical work when a hernia operation went wrong.
He was interested in computers and initially took a Clait basic IT qualification and a City amp; Guilds course in PC repair at Barnfield College in Luton. "There was a lot of adult education there," he said. "As things progressed, I was asked: 'Have you thought of trying a higher qualification?' "
Last year, he took a prototype of the new OCR qualifications for IT professionals, which include modules designed in partnership with Microsoft, the networking-giant Cisco and CompTIA, a trade association representing hardware and software manufacturers.
Now, after five months work experience at Barnfield College, he has just started a full-time job as an IT administrator with CSI Security, a Bedfordshire firm .There he is responsible for maintaining the firm's computer network, including 45 PCs, printers, scanners and fax machines.
"I can't believe it," says Mr Kennedy. "It's quite a turnaround - I'm amazed at how my life has changed. I'd always hoped that one day I would get to do something different, but at one stage I was nearly giving up.
"I can't help praising the people at Barnfield. They gave me confidence and showed me that I could do things I didn't know that I could."