Learners from across the south Wales valleys will have the chance to secure careers working with the world’s most advanced technology, as Coleg y Cymoedd launches a programme that aims to boost employment in the region.
The college has teamed up with the University of South Wales and world-leading technology companies to create a scheme to provide learners with the cutting-edge skills required for careers in Wales’ semiconductor industry, which is predicted to create 5,000 high-tech jobs in Wales by 2025.
Compound semiconductors are essential for most of the electronic technologies we all use on a daily basis, including our phones, computers, smart devices and the internet itself. The path towards widespread 5G internet connections, autonomous vehicles and practically every new electronic advancement will be made possible by this technology. And, Wales is leading the way.
South Wales is already home to companies that lead the world in the research, design and creation of compound semiconductor technology. The expected growth of that industry offers huge employment opportunities for learners in the region today.
Over the last 12 months, Coleg y Cymoedd has worked with university research departments and technology businesses to gain a first-hand understanding of the skills they will need for their future workforces.
The project has seen staff at Coleg y Cymoedd attend a number of courses run by the most advanced companies working within the sector, including Newport-based IQE, one of the world’s leading global compound semiconductor suppliers. Tutors have also had the opportunity to learn from the experts at Newport Wafer Fab, MicroSemi, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and the science education specialists at Techniquest.
The majority of the organisations participating in the scheme are members of the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster, CSConnected, which was established here in 2017 as a means to supercharge the industry in Wales. Working within the cluster, universities, research centres and companies collaborate to develop a compound semiconductor hub that aims to create £375 million of private sector investment in the region over the next five years.
This training received by Coleg y Cymoedd’s tutors will allow the college to tailor its Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM) courses to ensure the next generation of learners gain the exact skills that employers will be calling out for.
As a result, college learners will have a head start as they pursue lucrative career paths in emerging technology sectors that offer highly paid, sought after engineering and science industry roles.
Coleg y Cymoedd’s programme is led by physics and applied science lecturer, Steve Chapman, who said: “Compound semiconductors are already vital to the technology we all use today and that’s only going to grow. It’s crucial that we work with industry to ensure that we remain at the forefront of such technological advancements. As a tutor it’s been so insightful to learn about the industries at the forefront of science and pass on this valuable information to our learners.
“By working with these leading experts and employers, we can guarantee that our courses allow learners to develop the specific and transferable industry skills they will need to secure real and rewarding career paths.”
The course updates will also benefit those choosing an apprenticeship route, as learners will be able to study specific modules that tie into the industry, improving their chances of finding apprenticeships and work in the growing semiconductor and engineering market when they leave college.
Karen Phillips, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “As a college, we utilise our relationships with employers to keep up with developing industries and future employment opportunities for our learners. We ensure our tutors have the relevant knowledge, filtering this expertise into our courses so that our learners are equipped with the skills that employers look for today, and in the future.
“We have found this project extremely beneficial for both our tutors and learners and we hope to continue working on this initiative in the future.”