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Three-year journey from unemployed to Board Apprentice

Autism Jersey has appointed a young man who is on the autism spectrum to be an apprentice on its Board of Trustees.

Jonathan Channing approached the charity with the idea. Chairman Nick Winsor explained why he said: ‘You’re hired’.

‘Jonathan originally approached Autism Jersey with the idea and introduced me to Charlotte Valeur, chair and founder of Board Apprentice, a not-for-profit company. It soon became clear that an apprenticeship of this type could be very beneficial to both Autism Jersey, in terms of the unique insight that Jonathan brings, and to an apprentice through the experienced gained. We then went through a selection process, Jonathan was successful and we are delighted to welcome him on a one-year apprenticeship.’

Jonathan said: ‘I am delighted to be the first autistic person to embrace Board Apprentice and I am thankful to the Autism Jersey board for helping me realise this opportunity.

‘Throughout my appointment I hope to gain an in-depth understanding of the practical workings of a board first-hand and to further my knowledge of corporate governance. Autism Jersey’s board members have a collective wealth of experience and I look forward to learning from each of them during the course of my apprenticeship. It is my hope that this will be an informative and eye-opening experience for the board members as well as myself. This experience will be instrumental in preparing me for further opportunities and growth.

‘Although this is very much a spectator role, I will have a chance to feed back to the board and give my expertise should it be asked for. It is my hope that I can feed in my opinion on multiple levels including digital and professional expertise, as well as my personal insight into the challenges of being autistic in a world of convention.’

Jonathan was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when he was 18. Now 22, he runs his own business, Cobra Coding, and has co-founded a governance training platform, GGGovernance with a non-executive director to teach best practices on boards.

Earlier this year – thanks to joint sponsorship from the Resolution Centre and an unnamed benefactor – Jonathan completed a Professional Certificate in Mediation Skills, an academic credit bearing qualification from QMU Edinburgh and the Institute of Law Jersey.

This year he was also appointed one of the founding committee members of Chamber Connection, a new Jersey Chamber of Commerce committee designed to engage the younger population. Jonathan has also taken a leadership role in the development of National Coding Week, a national volunteer-led movement with a focus on improving the digital skill sets of local communities.

Jonathan will be expected to attend all board meetings of Autism Jersey as an observer, the annual general meeting, meetings with stakeholders of the organisation, as well as reading all relevant papers before each meeting. As an apprentice he will not be a director of the charity and it is not intended or expected to lead to a directorship of the company.