Almost 5,000 companies across Wales have taken on young people through Jobs Growth Wales since the EU-backed programme began in April 2012.

The figures show that in total 4,723 companies have taken part in Jobs Growth Wales, with SMEs and microbusinesses by far the largest beneficiaries.

According to the figures, 3,203 microbusinesses, 1,412 SMEs and 104 larger companies (employing more than 250 people) have taken on a young person through Jobs Growth Wales.

Emma Coslett, from Cwmbran, is one of them.

As a beauty therapist, Emma is used to achieving transformations for her clients. But the 21-year old from Cwmbran has undergone a major transformation of her own over the past five years, since dropping out of her A Level studies in law, psychology and sociology when she was facing an uncertain future.

Today she runs her own thriving mobile beauty business, Beauty by Emma. She set up the business in September 2012 after completing Welsh Government-backed CQF Level 2 training via a local salon, supported by the Newport-based Centre for Business.

She was also eligible for a Young Entrepreneur Bursary under the Jobs Growth Wales programme, which provided £6,000 towards the costs of getting the new enterprise off the ground.

Since then, several salons have tried to persuade her to work for them but she’s determined to continue running her own business, serving clients she describes as ‘fiercely loyal.’

Emma said: “I originally thought of becoming a solicitor but now I just couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else but this."

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates has hailed the figures as further evidence of the positive impact of Jobs Growth Wales on smaller businesses

He said: “These figures are clear evidence of just how much our businesses value Jobs Growth Wales. Microbusinesses and SMEs, in particular, may not always be in a position to take on extra staff but this is where a programme like Jobs Growth Wales really comes into its own – it’s a catalyst for growth.

“By reimbursing employers for a young person’s wages at national Minimum Wage for the first six months, Jobs Growth Wales provides the stability needed for expansion and drives productivity with the help of hard-working, talented young people.

“This is why more than 11,000 young people in Wales have now been given the chance to demonstrate their full potential in meaningful, paid employment. It’s a win-win situation.”

In addition to the 4,723 companies that have taken part in Jobs Growth Wales, 317 young people started up their own companies by using the Jobs Growth Wales Young Entrepreneurs’ Bursary.

Figures from last month show that Jobs Growth Wales has now created more than 14,500 job opportunities with more than 11,300 young people filling these jobs.

The latest figures also show success rates for the programme continuing strongly, with 82 per cent of young people working in the private sector progressing into employment or further learning after completing their Jobs Growth Wales six month opportunities.