Wales’ largest steel producer is supporting Apprenticeship Week Wales, after recognising apprentices are key to solving skill shortages.
Tata Steel first started offering apprenticeships to its employees back in the 1950s, as a way of ensuring its workforce possessed the skills and qualifications needed to provide world class services.
Tata Steel employ nearly 260 apprentices across the whole of Wales and run eight different apprenticeship routes across its four sites – Port Talbot, Llanelli, Caerphilly and Newport. Tata Steel’s apprenticeships range from mechanical engineering, electrical, manufacturing to laboratory science. There are also several apprentices working in customer and financial services.
Apprenticeship Week Wales runs this week and celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships have on both individuals and businesses and recognises the skills and talent that apprentices can bring to the workplace.
Mathew Davies, Technical Training Advisor at Tata Steel said:
“We actively recruit apprentices as its difficult to find the talent we require in this complex industry. Our apprenticeship programmes ensure that we have a readymade talent pool we can take up through the ranks to senior operator roles and team leaders.
“Our apprentices work on rotation across the whole business and are given the experience to learn a variety of skills and processes across all departments.”
Applications for this year have now opened, and Tata Steel are expecting to see over 100 new apprentices enrol onto its eight programmes across Wales.
“Having apprentices is in our DNA at Tata Steel – it’s part of the company culture. Our other staff members value having apprentices around as not only can they pass on their knowledge to the next generation of engineers, but they can also learn from them too. Some apprentices spend some time in college (can be day or block release) whereas others are based in the training academy using state-of-the-art technology to learn the latest techniques that they can bring onto site.”
Tata Steel are currently running at a 94% completion rate for its apprenticeship programmes in Wales, with around 85% of apprentices staying on with the company five years after graduating.
Technical laboratory apprentice Sally Hughes, who this year won the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award at Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2018 says an apprenticeship with Tata Steel has given her invaluable experience of the world of work.
The 19-year-old from Port Talbot said:
“Every day is different and I’m always learning something new. Working in a real environment has given me the opportunity to use what I’ve learnt in college and apply it to the job-in-hand, which has been so beneficial for my development.
“I’ve now been offered a position in the technical team where I’m working towards a Level 4 apprenticeship HNC in Chemical Science. I’m now seconded onto shifts working four days on and four days off to enhance my knowledge as well as spending a day a week in Gower College Swansea.
“I really enjoy my apprenticeship and am now hoping to progress as high as I can within the company.”
The Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates said:
“It’s clear that apprenticeships are an invaluable opportunity, not only for individuals, but also for the many businesses with skills gaps and shortages. Apprenticeship Week Wales is the perfect opportunity to celebrate vocational training and the huge number of people currently benefiting from apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships are a fantastic and proven way to tailor an employee’s skillsets to meet the specific demands of a business, whilst nurturing the talent within Wales as a whole. I look forward to continuing to support businesses and apprentices looking to benefit from this key cog of the economy.”