Dundee & Angus College

Dundee & Angus College Gives Businesses ‘Competitive Edge’

A brand new Dundee and Angus College team will give local businesses ‘the competitive edge’, with access to a new pot of training funding.

The Business Partnerships team, headed up by Caryn Gibson, Economics Partnership Manager, includes three Skills Advisors who are actively heading into workplaces to identify and assess current and future skills gaps and training needs.

Once training needs have been established, a brand new team of 17 accredited trainers have been recruited to help deliver business training, each bringing industry specialisms to the table, ensuring businesses gain access to the very best support.    With sectors and technologies continuously emerging, College staff are currently fine-tuning a raft of new qualifications covering subjects from wind turbines and low carbon transport through to advanced manufacturing, insulation and solar panels.  Courses such as mental health first aid, leadership and digital marketing are also being developed.

The new team has been welcomed by Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce.

Alison Henderson and Caryn Gibson

Alison Henderson, CEO said, “We are really pleased to see the creation of this new team and the commitment of the College to supporting businesses at this time. Every business needs to understand where opportunities lie and plan for the future. Many business leaders tell us that accessing talented people can be a challenge, and they are therefore very committed to investing in their workforce skills to ensure their businesses are future-proofed. We’re delighted to have such an ambitious and forward-thinking College on our doorsteps to give our business community that competitive edge.”

To assist with their training programmes, businesses can apply for financial support. The College has secured almost £1M from the Scottish Government Flexible Workforce Development Fund and is now accepting applications. The fund gives levy-paying businesses access to up to £15K worth of training, with SMEs eligible for training up to the value of £5K. Work is currently ongoing with the Tay Cities Group with more funding anticipated to support the SME market with further skills provision and the College will lead on this alongside its partners in the wider support community.

As of early 2022, much of the training will be delivered between two new centres of excellence – the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) Skills Academy and the Advanced Manufacturing Training School based at the College’s Arbroath campus.

The aims of the training are twofold.  As well as closing skills gaps by reskilling and upskilling individuals in growing sectors such as digital, manufacturing, energy and renewables, the College is reskilling individuals to create more employees for sectors struggling to find staff such as care and hospitality.

The team is also working closely with employers in rapidly advancing sectors where roles such as car mechanics could become obsolete if staff fail to advance their skills as the sector works towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. Similarly, the team and wider College is supporting businesses in the construction sector that will require to meet new legislation to continue trading.

Caryn, who joined the College in January after a near eight-year career with Business Gateway explained, “Local businesses are gradually coming out of the most challenging period they have ever faced, however, there are many more hurdles ahead and we must work together to overcome these.

“Covid created opportunities for some businesses to innovate and diversify their offering meaning their business models and future plans have changed.  It’s our duty as a College to help them plan for the future, analysing their needs, identifying the skills gaps and delivering the training required.  Whether that’s offering a strong portfolio of CPD or ensuring that their existing staff are trained to meet new legislation, it’s about using the funding creatively, enhancing existing skills, providing digestible bolt-on qualifications which will allow them to keep working while they train.    We are also working with larger companies who have in-house trainers, bolstering their existing programmes and adding value through our funded courses.”

Meanwhile, for those who have yet to enter the workplace, the College aims to build a strong pipeline of skilled individuals to work in these emerging sectors.

Caryn continued – “In addition to working with businesses, we are also offering a range of short, free courses for the general public in a bid to raise ambition levels to enhance current careers for the employed or start new careers for the unemployed. Created during lockdown, this portfolio kicked off with courses in management, care and marketing but is now expanding to accommodate new, taster qualifications for emerging sectors such as renewables.

“Yes, economic recovery is of prime importance right now but it’s also about social recovery.  As well as our work with local businesses and their workforce, we also need to reach out to those who are currently not working and to shine a light on new subject areas to highlight their potential. Introducing free courses is a great way to do this, to prove that you can make progress, whether onto more training in that area, or into work. This is a win-win for businesses too – we’re helping the unemployed offering them the skills businesses need, giving them a stronger pipeline of local people who are read to fill these skills gaps.”

To contact the Business Partnerships team, email business@dundeeandangus.ac.uk or phone 01382 834874.