Job hunting as a young disabled person

19 October 2017

Jonathan ShawBy Jonathan Shaw

I left school in 2006 and I guess like most young people, I felt excited and nervous about what lay ahead.

I had been in full time education and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what it was going to be like for searching for a job in the big wide world with a learning disability.

So I approached the voluntary sector which helped me build up experience with enjoyable projects. But just as I was getting stuck in government funding was cut, which was a real shame and very disappointing.

I picked myself up with help from my really supportive parents and friends, who have always believed in me and what I am capable of achieving. They have been a big part of my life and I always aim to make them proud!

I struggled to find any paid employment that I thought would be right for me. Because of my learning disability I can’t manage a routine nine to five job and needed something flexible, with shorter hours.

I applied for many jobs and on paper ticked all the right boxes but I was never successful at interview stage.

I think that the employers didn’t understand my learning disability and weren’t willing to support me. This left me very angry and upset as I knew I could do just as well as anyone else with the right support.

At this time I was lucky enough to join the Can Do programme with Leonard Cheshire Disability, which I have really enjoyed and has helped open up new opportunities.

Through this I helped organise a community Easter egg hunt, made cupcakes to sell for Red Nose Day and took part in money management workshops.

I now volunteer two mornings a week at the local hospital doing meet and greet, where it is great to being part of something.

Just recently I applied for a paid position as a relief inclusion consultant with a charity and I got the job! I am so excited and it still doesn’t seem real.

I am really looking forward to having more responsibilities and engaging with people, and of course getting my first pay packet.

I would say to anyone else out there like me push, push, push and never give up! 

Jonathan is 28 years old from Manchester and has a learning disability. He is starting his new job in the coming weeks and we wish him every success.

Our new Untapped Talent campaign is calling on the government to recognise the untapped potential young disabled people bring to the workplace.


Would love to know how Jonathan gets on in his new job.

Hi Sue, thanks for your interest in my experience. Good news — I am really enjoying my new job thanks! It is giving me a real sense of purpose and responsibility and the people I work with are great! I still have lots to learn but they are training and supporting me which is really great. I hope to work here for a very long time! — Jonathan

I am so pleased that you now have employment Jonathan. Yet I am angry that it has taken so long for you to achieve this goal in your life.
I live with Cerebral Palsy. I know how hard it can be to have your talent and skills acknowleged and find paid employment and with the hours you need.

I am currently writing my Master's disseratation on; " Structual Barriers in Employing Disabled People It is : "A Theorectical Review" . My hope is that as time marches on disabled people will find the process of obtaining and maintaining employment easier. I believe to do this - Society must come together and work as one and to put aside any pejudice that may exsist and realise the talent and potential that disabled people offer.
Good luck Jonathan and to anyone searching for work. Remember you have talent and someone will one day realise your talent and ability . From Jane.

Hi Jane, thank you for your response to my blog post. It sounds like we have been in the same boat!
Your dissertation sounds really interesting and I am sure hard work! I share your hope for disabled people finding it easier to get work in the future as my experience has been quite hard going but it has been worth the effort!
Good luck with your dissertation and thank you for your support.
— Jonathan

This is lovely Jonathon and good luck with the new job I know you've worked hard to get where you are!

Hi Ian, Thank you! It is great to have so much support and to hopefully inspire others to be persistent and not give up on your dream! — Jonathan

Well done Jonathan!! Proud of you for getting to where you are now :)

Thank you Rachael! I am really proud of myself and feel very happy! — Jonathan

As an adult with Asperger's, reading this man's story has given me some hope about finding work.
I wish you all the best, Jonathan.

Hi Steve, I am glad I have given you hope, don’t give up, it can be a tough fight but I didn’t think I would get here and I have! Good luck with your job hunt! — Jonathan

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