Microchip manufacturer Newport Wafer Fab is encouraging other Welsh businesses to recruit apprentices.

The Welsh Government’s new apprenticeship recruitment incentives, which run until February 28, mean there has never been a better time to get involved.

The company, which develops and deploys a wide range of semiconductor technologies, has been running its apprenticeship programme for more than 25 years - nurturing talent which already exists within Wales to help it future-proof its workforce.

Simon Argent, HR director at Newport Wafer Fab, said: “Apprentices are a key part of our workforce at Newport Wafer Fab. Bringing fresh talent into the business is really important for us as apprentices bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the team.

"The company wouldn’t be where it is today without our apprentices, they increase productivity and enable us to train staff in the specific skills we need. They have had a positive impact on the whole workforce.

“Our apprentices are all paired with a mentor, giving our existing employees a chance to develop managerial skills – which is an added benefit to the company as a whole. It allows us to increase the skill levels of our current staff as well as plugging skills gaps.

“Most of our apprentices are aged between 18 and 22 years old and have grown up with technology. They have a different way of thinking and they positively challenge our existing thought processes. As in any industry, it is imperative that we stay competitive and ahead of the game within the marketplace, and our apprentices bring a fresh perspective to the company.

“Not only are apprenticeships a cost-effective way of developing talent, but they are also an investment in the future. Our Apprenticeship Training Programme is tailored to meet our business needs and our apprentices are able to apply their learnings to their work immediately. They are well equipped when they finish the Programme, with an intrinsic knowledge of the business and its demands.

“Our apprentices rotate around the company throughout their training, meaning they spend time with an engineer at each stage of the manufacturing process. Naturally, we then get a view of where they best fit within the business whilst they are able to recognise their strengths.

“We have seen for ourselves the long-term benefits of the Apprenticeship Programme, many of our senior engineers and engineering mentors were once apprentices: this knowledge and expertise is filtered down to ensure our current apprentices are learning from the best. We are also able to tap into this experience to help inform our plans for training future apprentices.”

This year, Wafer Fab has recruited four apprentices across the business, in addition to three apprentices which were brought into the business in 2019.

The Welsh Government has recently announced a new package of incentives to encourage employers to recruit apprentices, with businesses in Wales now eligible to claim up to £3,000 for each apprentice they recruit.

Ken Stakes, Minister of Economy, Transport and North Wales said: “Apprenticeships provide an excellent opportunity to learn while earning a wage and it’s great to see that Newport Wafer Fab are successfully nurturing and developing their apprentices.

“The impact of coronavirus and the fast approaching end of the EU transition period have placed incredible pressures on our economy, with businesses across Wales facing many challenges. The new incentives offered for apprenticeships will support employers to strengthen their business, as well as giving young people in Wales a real chance to shine.

“Apprenticeships play a crucial part in the Welsh economy and I urge business owners to consider the benefits that apprentices can bring to their workforce.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.