An initiative to increase employment opportunities in Aberdeen and the North East has been launched by partners from across the region.
The project is part of the Aberdeen City Council Socio-Economic Rescue Plan, which was created in response to the impact of Coronavirus. Enhancing access to learning, training and business start-up support is at the heart of the collaborative approach.
Led by the Council, the campaign brings North East Scotland College (NESCol), Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the University of Aberdeen together with national agencies, business organisations and community groups.
The partnership includes Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeenshire Council, Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire, Elevator, Opportunity North East (ONE), Skills Development Scotland and the Aberdeen Employability Training Providers Forum.
Throughout January and February the spotlight will be turned on opportunities for upskilling, retraining and enterprise support ranging from part-time and distance learning options to free short courses, full-time studies and entrepreneurial programmes.
Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “In establishing the Socio Economic Recovery Plan, the Council recognised the importance of partnership working as the Aberdeen City Region responds to the economic shock Coronavirus has caused.
“The human cost of the pandemic has been heartbreaking and the economic cost is also significant. The business landscape and employment market has been impacted in many different ways in the past 12-months and it is vital we work collaboratively to ensure that 2021 is a year of opportunity, in the face of continued challenges.
“Innovation and diversification are more important than ever in our regional economy. To support that positive change, learning and training will be crucial as the workforce adapts and evolves. We look forward to working with stakeholders to increase awareness and access to the huge range of options that are open to all.”
Under the campaign banner ‘New Year, New Skills, New Start’, advice and support will be offered to key groups identified as part of the Socio Economic Recovery Plan - from school leavers taking their first steps towards employment to adults returning to education and training with a view to upskilling for career progression or retraining to enter a new sector.
Neil Cowie, Principal of North East Scotland College, said: “The College is pleased to be working alongside our partners to help drive economic recovery in the region.
“The impact of the events of 2020 is still being quantified and it is clear we will continue to see the effects for some time to come. The social and economic consequences must be addressed, with learning and training crucial to ensuring all those we serve have the tools to succeed.
“We are all very aware of the difficulties faced by the region and its people – but it is important we do not lose sight of the opportunities. New and exciting roles in emerging sectors are already coming to the fore and as a College we are equipped to respond to the needs of individuals and of industry in the year ahead.”
Professor Steve Olivier, Principal at RGU, said: “This partnership strengthens our commitment to supporting the development of the people and the economy of the North East of Scotland. Now more than ever, we need to support individuals, entrepreneurs and workforces with critical training and learning to ensure they have the skills to address the challenges in the current climate and seize opportunities to prosper in 2021.
“RGU’s long track record of working collaboratively with partners in industry and business contributed to the University recently being named as Scottish University of the Year. Enhancing access to learning to drive employability by providing industry-focused teaching and professional development which is responsive to regional and national skills needs is at the heart of what we do.”
University of Aberdeen Principal Professor George Boyne said: “This regional approach to the many socio-economic challenges currently facing individuals and businesses throughout the North East is typical of the way in which the city pulls together in a time of crisis, and we are very proud to be part of it.
“The University has been at the heart of the community for 525 years and, as well as our commitment to the delivery of outstanding teaching and first-class research, we play a very important role in helping to upskill and retrain individuals. This has been particularly so during the past few months, when we have been able to offer a wide range of free and discounted bitesize, flexible courses designed to fit around full-time work.
“We are very much looking forward to working with our partners to drive forward the economic recovery of the region, and to help individuals and industries diversify and evolve.”
Councillor Andy Kille, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said: "We are very pleased to see this partnership approach coming together and remain committed to ensuring support is available to those impacted by the pandemic. This follows on from the creation of our joint Grampian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Assistance Hub website available to all those across the City and Shire as well as Moray to help everyone get through the most challenging of circumstances. Promoting learning, training and enterprise opportunities is an absolutely essential aspect of our local recovery process and it will be great to see a joined up approach to this too."
Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Making sure the next generation has the skills to power the sectors and careers that will drive our regional economy is at the heart of creating a strong future for the North East. Hand in hand with that, through things like the Transition Training Fund, is the need to support the existing workforce to take advantage of the opportunities that exist and we are pleased to bring the voice of the business community into this partnership initiative.”
Allison Carrington, Regional Skills Planning Lead at Skills Development Scotland (SDS), said: “With many people across the North East facing an uncertain start to the new year, it’s important that people know the wealth of support that’s available to help them plan out their future. SDS can help people whether they’re facing redundancy, looking to gain new skills or simply learn more about their options. We’re also supporting emplopyers of all sizes across the region to make sure they can access the skills they need to strengthen their business.”
A spokesperson for the Aberdeen Employability Training Providers Forum said: “The economic impact of the pandemic, combined with the oil and gas downturn, has sent shockwaves through Aberdeen’s employment market.
“Forum members have a long-established history of supporting people of all working ages with a very broad range of needs to access training, support and to move into education and employment. Now more than ever it is crucial that people are aware of the vast range of options available to them. We are proud to be part of this Socio-Economic Rescue Plan initiative which brings together public, private and third sector organisations in a new drive to signpost the people of Aberdeen to secure the right help at the right time for them.”
For further information visit https://news.aberdeencity.gov.uk/ or search #NewStart2021 .