BBC under fire for ‘disabled only’ job vacancy

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The BBC is searching for a new weather presenter, with only one requirement for candidates – they must be disabled.

The British broadcaster has advertised a training opportunity for budding weather presenters, stating that in order for candidates to be eligible to take part, they must have a disability. A lack of relevant qualifications or experience will seemingly be overlooked by the organisation’s recruiters. 

An advertisement posted on the BBC’s careers website said that the corporation is currently looking to recruit a disabled presenter to improve “on screen diversity”.

“Do you want to share your passion for the weather by presenting weather bulletins? Do you have a disability?” the post reads. “The BBC does not currently have any weather presenters who are disabled and we are actively seeking to improve on screen diversity.”

“You don't need to be an expert or have a qualification in meteorology,” the advert continues.

The Daily Mail reported that staff are said to be “furious” at the discrimination, referring to the advertisement as a “politically correct job vacancy” and a “box-ticking exercise”.
Traditionally, the BBC’s weather presenters are fully qualified meteorologists with an abundance of formal qualifications. 

Among the corporation’s current weather presenters are weatherman Alex Deakin, who has an astrophysics degree; Chris Fawkes, who has a degree in geography, Peter Gibbs, a polar meteorologist and Philip Avery, who is a navy weather expert.

According to the job advert, the BBC Academy will be running a free training opportunity to help people with disabilities feel comfortable presenting bulletins on television and radio.

Candidates will undergo extensive training, including a masterclass with current weather presenters and sessions with a voice coach.

“You will meet established weather presenters and members of the production team and will learn what it takes to present BBC weather bulletins,” the advert said.

Following the completion of the training, candidates will be eligible to apply for future vacancies.

A spokesperson for the BBC recently defended the broadcaster’s advertisement.

“We are not advertising for a disabled weather presenter,” the spokesperson said. “This training opportunity is open to men and women with disabilities who have a passion for weather and the environment and who have the potential to become weather presenters in the future.”

“There are no jobs guaranteed at the end of the training,” the spokesperson added. “There is nothing ‘PC’ about offering training to people with disabilities.”
  • Penny on 2/06/2015 12:45:35 p.m.

    I used to work for BBC recruitment and this is an attempt to redress an imbalance by better enabling a group, currently under represented in a particular area, to be able to apply in the future. Though I do agree it could have been better worded!

    This approach is about 'positive action', not 'positive discrimmination'.

    The first example in my time there was trying to address the low number of female engineers by setting up an initiative for those with aptitude to study in the field, as assessed in a formal process, to spend time in an intensive training environment to bring their skills to a level where they are better positioned to be able to apply to the Trainee Engineer programme run by the organisation to ensure a pipeline of engineers for future need.

    We have a shortage of truck drivers in this country and females are currently significantly under represented. I would compare this to setting up a week (?) long course to introduce women to the opportunity, give them a chance to 'have a go' and to assess their aptitude at the same time. The objective being to encourage them to consider a career they may not have because they perceived it to be male dominated and that they could not apply on an equal footing as a male.

    The principle is sound, the approach perhaps in this instance, not so much.

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