Theo, from Thatcham, has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award after turning his life around with the support of a group of employment experts.
Theo, 21, has Cerebral Palsy, is in a wheelchair, wears hearing aids in both ears and uses specialist software to help him communicate.
Having been unemployed for three years, he has now smashed through the barriers he thought were holding him back – and now he’s been shortlisted for Significant Achievement of the Year at the national ERSA Employability Awards.
Theo believed these barriers were holding him back in finding a suitable job but was determined to succeed. He just needed a little bit of help on the way.
Knowing he might need specialist support finding work in the middle of a pandemic and an increasingly tough labour market, he voluntarily enrolled on the Work and Health Programme.
Our team of employability experts helped sort out a CV which focused on short-term roles, and with tailored applications to local employers, but it was Theo’s attitude throughout and his refusal to get too down after rejections that makes him stand out.
Because of his disabilities, he can only communicate through digital means. Emails, messages, YouTube and presentations replaced the normal face to face meetings as together, his employment coach and Theo identified his transferable skills and potential employers.
Through gaining confidence, his barriers seemed to lessen one-by-one – eventually resulting in a new job as an administration apprentice at AND Digital in Reading.
And with in-work support in place and a series of reasonable workplace adjustments being made, Theo now feels safe and secure in a job he loves.
Theo said: “When you have barriers to employment, you do fear long term unemployment or maybe even being unemployed for a lifetime, because it is not easy to build initial workplace experience like others can by doing things like being a waiter. I couldn't claim to have done customer service or had experience in basic workplace tasks, so I had to make the most of the experience I had been given by school with one week work placements.
“I have found the perfect employer and the perfect job for me, as well as my capabilities, and that is the real prize.”
Theo’s employment coach, Amarjit, said: “Theo has never been one to complain or blame his health conditions for the knockbacks he had received. In fact, he has always been very focused and hugely proactive in trying to move forward into employment.
“Theo has always been very optimistic and motivated to finding employment. He has attended all of his appointments and often liaised with me throughout the week, keeping me updated on all of his applications.
“Despite a number of negative rejections following his interviews, Theo has always been open to receiving constructive feedback. Taking that feedback on board, he’s always reflected and learned from it.”