Giving students a head start in tough times - new Employability Academy launched

Over 90% of its students are in work or further study six months after graduating, but Swansea University will give its students even more of a head start as it launches a new Employability Academy.

The Academy will focus on enhancing work placement opportunities, developing entrepreneurial skills and supporting enterprise.  Its aims are to increase:

  • the proportion of graduates securing graduate employment
  • engagement by employers, employer representatives and professional bodies in student learning
  • the number of students doing work placements, including overseas

The Academy was launched on the university campus on Thursday 15 March by Edwina Hart, AM, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.  


In her speech Mrs Hart said "I congratulate Swansea on its innovation". Encouraging entrepreneurship and enterprise were high on the Welsh Government agenda, she said.

"Entrepreneurship is not just about business start-up but encouraging young people to have an entrepreneurial outlook and mindset regardless of whether they work for themselves, work for others or set up innovative businesses.

"In these difficult times it is vital that young people have a can-do attitude so they can adapt to new challenges and be motivated to succeed. This new Academy is not only designed to enhance the employment opportunities of young people but to widen their experiences, which is to be welcomed."

The University already runs a Swansea Employability Award scheme for students.  The scheme helps students to find out about their interests, identify possible career options, and gives them experience which can help boost their skills.   At the launch, two students, Libby Anderson and Steven Begbie, who have just completed the award, received their certificates from Edwina Hart.

Swansea University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies said: "Over 90% of our students are already in work or studying six months after graduating.  Many of the others have chosen to postpone working to take a gap year travelling.  But we take a longer-term interest in our students' successes; we want to ensure that Swansea graduates are given a head start in developing and pursuing the most rewarding careers.  This is the challenge which the Academy will address".

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor, who will be heading the Academy, said: "This exciting new Academy will support economic development by producing graduates with excellent employability skills and a global mindset, which are in demand by employers. The Swansea Employability Academy will also encourage students to create opportunities through enterprise, by developing entrepreneurial skills and providing exciting start-up opportunities."


At the launch, William Kay, a second year marine biology student, was told that he had been selected for a placement studying wildlife in the southern ocean off Argentina. Judith James, project manager, explained: "We are looking for different workplace challenges so that students can try new experiences and move out of their comfort zone.  For example, we already have placement opportunities in the Arctic, in the southern ocean region and at the CERN research labs in Switzerland.

A workplace challenge need not be international - it could be with a small company within the region; but it will be exciting and relevant so that the student can build an excellent CV. We hope that organisations and alumni will support us by challenging our students!"

The launch event also featured an address from Simon Gibson OBE.  Simon is head of the Alacrity Foundation, and chief executive of Wesley Clover, the company founded by Welsh IT entrepreneur - and Swansea graduate - Sir Terry Matthews. 

Simon said:  "I am very excited by this new Academy in Swansea University, which reflects industry's need for highly employable and enterprising graduates. The Alacrity Foundation is supporting the University by providing challenging start-up opportunities for graduates within the telecoms industry. We hope that other organisations will also participate in supporting this initiative and contribute to developing our students' potential."