A NEW training team at Dundee and Angus College is planning to give local businesses a “competitive edge” after unveiling a fresh pot of funding.

The business partnerships team, headed up by Caryn Gibson, economics partnership manager, includes three skills advisors who are heading into workplaces to identify current and future skills gaps and training needs.

Once they have established training needs, another team of 17 accredited trainers – each with industry specialisms – will help deliver it to businesses, ensuring they gain access to the best support.

With sectors and technologies continuously emerging, college staff are fine-tuning a raft of new qualifications covering subjects from wind turbines and low carbon transport through to advanced manufacturing, insulation and solar panels. Mental health first aid, leadership and digital marketing courses are also being developed.

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The move, which comes after college principal Simon Hewitt told The Sunday National last month about the importance he placed on links with the business community, has been welcomed by Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce.

CEO Alison Henderson, 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.”

Businesses can apply for financial support to help with training programmes, after the college secured £1 million from the Scottish Government Flexible Workforce Development Fund. This gives levy-paying businesses access to up to £15,000 of training, with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) eligible for training up to the value of £5000.

Work is ongoing with the Tay Cities Group and more funding is 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.

From early next year, 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 at the college’s Arbroath campus.

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 people to create more employees for sectors struggling to find staff, such as care and hospitality. The team is 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.

Gibson, who joined the college in January from Business Gateway said: “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.”