New Health & Wellbeing Academy welcomes local Talent Bank students

Local students from the unique Talent Bank Further Education programme have been welcomed at Swansea’s newly opened Health & Wellbeing Academy.

A-level students from across the area were given a tour of the new  academy, which was opened by Health Minister Vaughan Gething last week on Swansea University’s Singleton Campus.

Craig Toutt, Director of Academic and Clinical Operations at the Health and Wellbeing Academy, led the visit. He said: “The students demonstrated a strong desire to understand what it meant to be a healthcare professional, what skills they would need to develop and how they could plan their futures.

“All of the students were engaging and conducted themselves in a professional manner, we look forward to working closely with Talent Bank in the future to support their aims and help them take advantage of the fantastic facilities and expertise here in the Academy.”

Talent Bank, which is partnering with Gower College and being delivered through the ARCH partnership, is a bespoke Further Education programme specifically designed to support the evolving health and life science sector in South West Wales.

Talent Bank project director Beverley Wilson-Smith said the programme will ensure young people in this area graduate with the necessary skills to progress to university, go on to work-based learning or directly into employment.

Beverley Wilson-Smith said: “The Talent Bank will allow students from across the region working in partnership with FE providers to be exposed to the world of the NHS, industry and innovation.

“We know the workforce issues the health service faces and this programme is aimed at growing local talent and expanding the skills supply across the South West Wales region.

“Our students get hands-on, world-class exposure to industry experts from across the UK as well as health service professionals, innovators and leaders.

“The Talent Bank students were given a tour of the newly opened Academy where they learned about the various alternative non-medical career paths available to them such as osteopathy, audiology, cardiology to name but a few and they were delighted to see first hand the state-of-the-art resources available.

“I very much welcome this collaborative working approach between the Talent Bank and the Academy as it will help create much-needed work experience opportunities giving our youngsters a valuable insight into the vast range of non-medical NHS professions the College of Human and Health Sciences provides. 

“We are now working closely with the college to design a health and wellbeing-based programme of education which will be set at the heart of future Talent Bank learning.  This will be a vital component in teaching and training young people to consider their own health and wellbeing so that they stay well, healthy and fit for longer and reduce future pressures on the NHS.”

Talent Bank, which is being delivered through the ARCH partnership, is for young people aged 16+ wanting to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) A-levels or vocational and technical qualifications.

ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique partnership between Swansea University, ABMU and Hywel Dda university health boards who have come together to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the people of South West Wales. 

Prof Ceri Phillips, Head of College of Human and Health Sciences and ARCH board member, said he was delighted the students were able to view the academy first hand in its first few weeks of opening. Prof Phillips said: “The Talent Bank and Health & Wellbeing Academy are just two of the projects being delivered through the ARCH partnership. We were delighted to welcome the students and realise widening access into health & life science sector education is a vital part of tackling the NHS’s workforce issues.

“ARCH is focusing on activity which will generate the workforce pipeline of the future – to achieve this we must educate our health professionals of tomorrow in a way which ensures those nurtured and trained here are likely to stay and work within the region.

“I believe Talent Bank is a positive step towards
re-orientating the education system which can deliver a workforce with the right skills to deliver next generation healthcare.”


Amy Hodgson, aged 17, from Baglan, was the Talent Bank’s very first student. The Gower College student is studying A-level Maths, Biology and Physics.

Here Amy, a former Glanafan pupil, talks about her experiences as a Talent Bank student:

“I first heard about the Talent Bank programme during an open evening at the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University last year. I knew I wanted to study biology and physics at A-level but wasn’t sure what I could do with those qualifications once I left college.

I take my normal lessons at college then I am released into Talent Bank one day a week. There are about 12 of us on the pilot project and it’s really helped me get a better view of life beyond A-levels.

We have been able to get first-hand experience in both the NHS and industry. We have visited pathology in Singleton Hospital, been part of an NHS induction at Morriston Hospital and seen cardiology staff at work and also learned how to take blood in the simulation suite at Morriston’s Education Centre which was brilliant. It was also really interesting to see the new Health & Wellbeing Academy and the non-medical career options the College of Human and Health sciences offers.

We have also carried out an industry challenge on diabetes, looking at the causes, symptoms, treatment and research linked to diabetes. We were able to work with Cello Novo a diabetes firm who are creating an artificial pancreas which was really interesting.

I was lucky enough to have 2 day placement at Swansea University’s Centre of Nanotechnology at the Institute of Life Science. I didn’t even know that kind of research and development existed.

Talent Bank has helped me decide that I want to pursue a career in medical engineering and I am hoping to get work experience in ABMU’s specialist rehab unit in Morriston over the summer.

I have also been paired with a health mentor thanks to the Mullany Trust. My mentor is a cruise ship doctor and we speak virtually in a safe and monitored way so I can find out more about other career options available in health and life sciences.

It’s been great to be immersed in university life too thanks to the Fujitsu Innovation Hub on the Bay Campus. I am definitely considering staying in Swansea to continue my education and I hope I can start my career in this area too.

Talent Bank has opened my eyes to the opportunities here in South West Wales and helped me rule out as much as rule in education and employment choices, which has been so helpful to me and my parents.”

For more information on joining the 2017 Talent Bank programme, there will be a free open evening held at Morriston Hospital’s Education Department on April 5, 5pm to 7pm, visit