College put me on a path to helping save lives with data

A love of data is helping one Gower College Swansea alumni to play an integral role within the NHS, after her college supported her to pursue a dream apprenticeship despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

Laurice Keogh (19) from Loughor, Swansea, has wanted to pursue a career in data from a young age. Today, that drive has seen her start a career as an apprentice with Digital Health and Care Wales, helping to change the way health and care services are delivered.

Since she first studied IT at school, Laurice has enjoyed finding patterns, stories and gaining new insights from numbers and statistics. And, when a family friend suggested that she could use that skill to serve the NHS, her sights were set on that specific goal.

Although many paths to jobs in data exist, Laurice was determined she wanted to embark on her career as soon as possible. She soon realised that Gower College Swansea would be her first step to securing her dream apprenticeship.

Laurice’s journey began in September 2019 when she joined the College to study Information Communications Technology (ICT), History and English at A Level. These qualifications would allow her to progress in securing a data apprenticeship, but soon after the arrival of the pandemic threatened to disrupt that journey.

As lockdowns required students across the country to transition to remote learning, Gower College Swansea ensured Laurice and her fellow students were able to access additional support services and one-to-one time with tutors.

Accessing help from the Better Jobs, Better Futures team at Gower College Swansea allowed Laurice to explore a range of apprenticeship and employment opportunities, in addition to receiving help with job applications and mock interview training. That support proved invaluable when the time came for Laurice to apply for an apprenticeship with Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW).

Established in April 2021, DWHC replaced the NHS Wales Informatics Service and data is key to its work to provide insights that improve how health and care services are delivered and accessed by patients.

In 2022, Laurice’s hard work and the support she received from Gower College Swansea paid off as she secured an apprenticeship with DHCW.

Today, in addition to attending University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Laurice’s apprenticeship sees her working as an apprentice within DWHC’s information services department where she turns big data gathered from across NHS Wales into information that can bring about major improvements to the way we all access treatment and care services.

Commenting on her journey to securing the job of her dreams, Laurice Keogh, said: “A career in data has been my goal for years and I was eager to get started as soon as possible. An apprenticeship just made sense for me, and when I heard about the opportunities that were available with Digital Health and Care Wales, I knew that Gower College Swansea was my best route to get the career I wanted.

“I was worried that the pandemic was going to disrupt my plans, but the support available from the College meant that I could continue with my studies uninterrupted. That support, and in particular the help I received from Better Jobs, Better Futures was so important. Thanks to those teams, I felt prepared to apply for apprenticeships and interviews that can be intimidating. I’m really grateful for the support that was so important in helping me get the job I’d wanted for years.”

Today, Gower College Swansea employs over 50 dedicated support advisors to provide one to one student support, who are on hand to help with both college and non-college matters.  Pastoral coaches are also on hand to support students within the curriculum, helping to prepare them for their next steps, including university, apprenticeships, and job applications.

Additionally, and as a result of the pandemic, Gower College Swansea has introduced exam support programmes that are specifically designed for those learners who might never have sat or studied for a formal assessment.

Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea, said: “On behalf of the College I would like to congratulate Laurice for her commitment to pursuing her education and career goals, despite the unprecedented challenges and disruption brought about by the pandemic.

“I’m so proud to see that the advice and guidance provided by our hard-working teams has helped ensure that students can progress along their individual paths to education, training and careers. It’s even more rewarding in cases of individuals like Laurice, who are now applying what they have learnt with us to make real positive differences for others.”

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