HUNDREDS of new jobs could be created in Newport as part of plans to expand the city's semiconductor industry.

Newport is at the centre of a South Wales "cluster" of firms involved in producing the electronic components, which are used in a wide variety of electronics.

American firm the KLA Corporation plans to expand operations in the city as part of an already announced $100m investment, and the Welsh Government has now announced it will back this by upgrading infrastructure at the firm's base near Duffryn.

Economy minister Vaughan Gething said the government in Wales was "serious about backing a semiconductor sector that will drive up growth, create jobs and lower costs for consumers".

South Wales Argus: Vaughan Gething (right) visiting SPTS in Newport in 2021.Vaughan Gething (right) visiting SPTS in Newport in 2021.

The government is working with the SPTS division of KLA to develop the new site at Celtic Lakes. The Silicon Valley firm already employs more than 550 "highly-skilled" people in Newport, and is one of several semiconductor companies based in the city.

Following a "successful" trade mission to the USA, where he met KLA's leadership, Mr Gething said "Newport’s compound semiconductor and technology cluster supports hundreds of well-paid jobs in an industry that powers the technologies people across the globe rely on to live their lives".

He added: "During my visit to California’s Silicon Valley, I promoted Wales’ reputation as a nation with a thriving semiconductor cluster and our determination to keep it that way.

"The Welsh Government is now progressing plans at pace to allow KLA to expand its operations in Newport, which we expect to unlock hundreds of new jobs, supporting our ambition to create new green jobs in the industries of the future."

South Wales Argus: Vaughan Gething (left) with Rick Wallace, chief executive of KLA Corporation.Vaughan Gething (left) with Rick Wallace, chief executive of KLA Corporation. (Image: Welsh Government)

The government will fund upgrades to infrastructure at Celtic Lakes, work on skills development of potential recruits in the sector, and develop local supply chains. 

News of the investment follows a rocky few months elsewhere in the city's semiconductor sector, dominated by uncertainty over the future of another firm's factory in Duffryn.

UK ministers have alleged Nexperia, the new owner of Newport Wafer Fab, has links to the Chinese government, and for national security reasons are pushing to block the company's acquisition of the site, putting 600 jobs at risk.

Mr Gething did not comment on that matter, but suggested the future looked bright for the semiconductor sector in Wales, which "deserves the backing of 'UK plc' as a whole".

He renewed calls for the UK Government to publish a "long-awaited" semiconductor strategy that will "protect Welsh and British jobs".

"It’s time for the UK Government to get on the pitch with a plan that matches the commitment of our global partners," Mr Gething said. "We are ready to work in partnership to make this happen."