Taking control of your future

Final year Education Studies and Inclusion student Jack Fitzpatrick is preparing to be one of the speakers at a careers event that takes place virtually on 24 November, 12pm-3pm, for LJMU students and graduates with disabilities.

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The event will cap an incredibly busy year for Jack in which as well as embarking on the final year of his studies, and the associated workload that brings, he has been a key figure in a raft of diversity and inclusion work taking place at LJMU.  Jack has undertaken a month-long Diversity and Inclusion Consultancy internship with Student Futures, LJMU’s Careers, Employability and Enterprise team, helped develop a new range of careers resources with the team, and sat on a steering committee to create the event he will be speaking at.

He also sits on the Inclusive and Accessible Digital Environment Working Group for LJMU, which has resulted in changes to the LJMU website to make it more accessible and inclusive.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

All this might have seemed unlikely given Jack was diagnosed with Autism and Dyspraxia at the age of three.

“My diagnosis has given me challenges over the years”, Jack tells us.  “But I have had fantastic support in order to deal with these barriers, enabling me to develop coping strategies. It has been a long journey to where I am today.

“I was diagnosed at the age of three with Autism and Dyspraxia. The challenges I faced included coordination difficulties which impede my development and I have had intensive support to overcome these challenges. I found some daily tasks that are often taken for granted very difficult. One of my strengths from the early age of 1 was my ability to talk and communicate with people. Apparently, I haven’t stopped since and enjoy conversing with people.”

Jack feels the key to dealing with these challenges was early diagnosis and fantastic support from the people around him, something not everybody receives. “Early diagnosis is the key to my development, and this provided me with fantastic support from family, friends, and Learning Support Assistant’s throughout my education. It truly has allowed me to fulfil my full potential as I now have 8 GCSEs, 3 A Levels and I am now studying a degree in a specialised and an ever-emerging field. However, I am aware that I have been fortunate to have had the right support which has enabled me to overcome barriers in all areas of my life. This has led me to try and strive to help others to reach their full potential.”

He credits his degree programme as opening his eyes to the issues in the education system for people with disabilities and sparking his passion for improving diversity and inclusion.

“My Education Studies and Inclusion Degree has given me a holistic overview of the education system and more importantly the topic of diversity and inclusivity and the discrimination and other problems this can bring within society. This has fuelled my interest in the sector of Diversity and Inclusion.”

Jack’s proactivity, especially during the covid 19 pandemic, has culminated in a range of opportunities, including working for a multinational construction company and setting up a consultancy business.

“The last year during the Covid 19 pandemic has provided me amazing opportunities. I created a LinkedIn account and started to network with people within this sphere and this has allowed me unprecedented opportunities to speak with people in the Diversity and Inclusion sector globally and within small and major multinational companies. This has culminated with me having talks with a multinational construction company and completing my three-week university placement with them in January to February this year.” 

“During this time, I produced a five-thousand-word report on their inclusivity culture with 20 recommendations which has consequently allowed the company to integrate some of these recommendations and the roll out of the Sunflower Lanyard to all people in the company across their 325 sites around the UK. My contribution also supported them gaining ‘ Disability Confident‘ employer status.

“As a result of my placement I am now on a 4 month Internship with the company working remotely within their HR department and being rotated across smaller departments completing projects which are making impactful changes to the company.

“During the past year I have formed a partnership with 3 people to research Diversity & Inclusion within the workplace. The outcome of this research has resulted in me setting up my own Diversity and Inclusion consultancy business with my business partner Gillian Burgis called ‘Inclusive Environments’.”

Jack will be one of three speakers at the upcoming careers event where he hopes to inspire other students with disabilities to make a successful transition into the workplace following their degrees, in part using the resources he helped to create.

“I really appreciate the opportunities I have been given and it has been very insightful how LJMU establish an inclusive culture to ensure that everyone has access to all services and to transition into employment.

“During the course of the Internship with Student Futures, I produced a report which consisted of a set of recommendations to establish views on accessibility and inclusion within the different areas of the career’s website. This will hopefully allow insightful conversations to happen and accessibility to be integrated for all who use the website.”

He also credits LJMU for going the extra mile to help students like himself by creating an environment where they can flourish: “LJMU are really wanting to strive to create an inclusive culture for all students and employees. An analogy that I like to use is that buildings are built of strong foundations and this can certainly be applied to educational establishments such as LJMU ensuring the company has an ethos of fairness, equality, respect, dignity, and diversity, they are the strong foundations that allow organisations such as LJMU to remain standing for many years to come. “

For more information about the upcoming careers event, including information about the other speakers, and how to book a place, click here.

A video version of this interview that Jack made is also available here.

The new careers resources for students with disabilities will launch alongside this event on 24 November on the LJMU Careers, Employability and Enterprise website.







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