I'd have written this blog sooner, but I have a learning disability. In my case this means I can't learn as fast or work as quickly as other people. My brain also tires more easily and like an old battery, can go flat.
I've been through the mill of courses, training and carefully couched phrases re employment over the decades. Very few courses were ever any use (one in particular did terrible damage) and although I did finally find some small measure of success, it didn't come via positive discrimination or organizational help. I lived and wrote a great story, and I cut the mustard to reach publication standard although (it must be firmly noted) I cut the mustard my way, learned slowly and didn't work as fast as other people. That will never either change or improve, and there's no getting round it.
Last week a lot of media outlets poured scorn on the BBC Academy's job advert for a disabled weather presenter.
They were right to do so, and here's why:
• The applicant does have to have some ability to do the job, and I myself would certainly favour John Kettley, who spent four years researching meteorology before becoming a presenter, over an inexperienced applicant with nothing but "passion" (a tiresome and overused word) to offer.
• The "course" (apparently free, but as any old cynic will tell you, there's no such thing as a free lunch) only lasts for three days. Again, I'd look more favourably upon someone with more than seventy-two hours knowledge of the subject.
• Worst of all, and as a BBC spokesman explicitly stated, quoted in the Daily Telegraph:
"There are no jobs guaranteed at the end of the training."
After a twenty-seven-year car crash of a career (and as I explained in an earlier blog "Is There or Is There Not an Actual Job?") I've heard so many ifs, buts and maybes from mealy-mouthed muppets re training and jobs that I'm now willing to be partisan and firmly advise any young disabled person to never ever mortgage his or her hopes on any course, work trial, placement, anything like that, unless there really is a job at the end of it. I am largely disillusioned with organizations. Many CEOs are psychopathic and the Death Eaterish control freakery within office walls can destroy creativity within days. I have met such CEOs and had my own ability pounded into near ruin by such corporate "cultures."
There is even a comedy about life at the BBC made by the BBC. It's called W1A. It's funny but I'm not laughing, because it's not funny when it's real and when it's happening to you.
But at least I now know what to watch out for and what to warn you against.
And in this case it's one specific thing.
Behind the honeyed words and choice phrases designed to entrap the young and naïve (passion! enthusiasm! potential!) lies a much uglier fact:
Many organizations are now utterly in thrall to political correctness. In this particular case, they must fill their diversity quota.
Or at least appear to fill their diversity quota.
If they don't seem to be trying to fill said quota, they'll get in trouble with the Powers That Be. They might lose some award for inclusivity and/or some source of funding.
But actually finding a suitably qualified/experienced candidate who despite or because of a disability (my Aspergers made me a superb cataloguer) genuinely can fill a real job on actual offer takes time, money, preparation and thought. Like it or lump it, employing people is very costly and time is money.
So instead of investing time and money to find a genuinely suitable disabled candidate, the organization produces a cheap travesty of an advert like this, and if the Powers That Be call them to account, they put on their best plastic smile and blandly say "well, we put together this super new course and did our best but no candidate came up to scratch."
The Powers That Be are satisfied. The conscience of the organization (if it has one) is at ease, the right box is ticked, the funding continues and the award for excellence in unitary inclusivity (or some other gobbledygook) is unthreatened.
Everyone, that is, except the disabled candidate who, hoping against hope for a chance to get a foot in the door, sacrificed time and money to attend that ersatz course, and was instead shown the door.
I've waited a long time to say this, really say this. Because I experienced it:
Most organizatons are utterly ruthless: they do not care about you or your fellow trainees, and it doesn't matter whether you've got a disability or not. They do not care. Don't kid yourself about this. Ever.
No matter how many well-meaning friends or relatives exhort you to take a false offer like this, ignore them. There's no job at the end of it, it's a con, you're wasting your time.
Instead, vote with your feet. Do not play their game. Do not apply for rubbish like this. At the very least you keep your self-respect (I lost mine because I didn't obey the advice I'm giving you now - it took me twenty-two years to get it back) and however psychotic an organization might be, it's not totally stupid. They do actually need people with talent. If their approach doesn't work and their funding and corporate lustre is threatened, even Death Eaters may come to the table and deliver a decent offer.
Keep your dignity and hold out for one. It's like that old slogan: "suppose they gave a war and no one came?"
Well, what if nobody did? It might sound silly but I guarantee callous corporate culture won't change unless it's forced to do so.
Think W1A's funny? It's not funny if it happens to you.
James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.