From education to employment


Kronospan Apprentices and Jenny

Kronospan (@Kronospan), a leading manufacturer in north Wales, says apprentices are a great resource for their business, helping to future proof and nurture the next generation of industry leaders.

The Welsh Government is offering funding of up to £4,000 for each apprentice an employer recruits in a bid to support businesses and workers in recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

Kronospan manufactures and distributes wood-based panels, which are used in applications such as flooring, furniture, and timber framed houses. The company operates globally, with sites across Europe, Asia, and North America.

With its UK site based in Chirk, Wrexham, it has been recruiting Electrical & Mechanical Engineering Apprentices for 18 years.  Jennie Roberts, engineering apprentices co-ordinator, said:

“Our apprentices bring a fresh approach and new ideas to the business to help it expand and move forward.

“The scheme gives us the opportunity to ‘grow our own’ by training apprentices in our own way, with our own equipment – helping them to develop skills to match the business’ needs.

“A tailored learning plan, as well as rotations across the site, ensures the apprentices have a sound understanding of the highly technical manufacturing processes we utilise to remain as the leading innovators in our industry.”

As well as helping the business to develop a pipeline of fresh talent, Kronospan’s whole workforce have benefited from the apprentice programme.

Jennie said:

“The scheme gives our apprentices the opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leading people who are committed to technical excellence. Older, more experienced staff can act as role models, but they also benefit from the apprentices as they’re on hand to help with the tasks.

“We find that our apprentices are highly responsive to change, which is a huge benefit as the company looks to develop new and improved business processes, products and services.

“We’ve recruited over 100 apprentices over the years. A number of whom are still employees, who have further developed their careers by being promoted into senior managerial positions.

“The longevity and success of the scheme means that apprentice recruitment is now embedded into the core of the company’s business plan.”

The manufacturing company has now expanded its apprenticeships programmes throughout the business.

“Away from the engineering side of the business, we’ve recently advertised for an apprentice to join our accounts team. We’re eager to invest in talent throughout different departments as it means we’re giving young people the chance to establish a comprehensive understanding of the business.

“Despite the financial constraints most businesses have been facing since the start of the pandemic, we’re committed to the ongoing development of our workforce. Work-based learning is the future of training, especially in the engineering industry, so for us, it’s important to continue expanding our business through apprenticeships, which also helps reduce our recruitment costs.”

The Welsh Government has recently announced a package of incentives to encourage employers to recruit apprentices. The incentives will help to ensure crucial employment opportunities for apprentices in Wales, while supporting businesses to hire, train and develop new staff.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“This Welsh Government has ambitious post-Covid recovery plans. We want Wales to become an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth, with an economy based on sustainable jobs in the new green industries of tomorrow that will take us forward into the next century.

“I believe providing more apprenticeships will be vital if we are to achieve this ambition. So that’s why the new Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 all-age apprenticeship places over the next five years.

“Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to grow their career from day one through on-the job training and experience. They also make a significant contribution to our economy, so we have invested a further £18.7 million to extend incentives to support businesses with cost-effective recruitment.

“We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers. I encourage all employers to consider applying for funding under our Employer Incentive Scheme before it ends on September 30th.”

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


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