TCEP launched to address widening STEM Skills Gap

The Tay Cities Engineering Partnership (TCEP) celebrates its official opening, marking a pivotal moment in the region's engineering landscape.  

As the partnership eagerly anticipates the forthcoming academic year, preparations are already underway to welcome students and foster an environment where future engineers can thrive.

The partnership secured funding of up to £2 million from the Scottish Government, as part of the Tay Cities Regional Deal which will drive the transformation of manufacturing processes required to meet the ambitions of The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

TCEP is the region’s first Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing network and has been developed to address the widening STEM skills gap. TCEP will enable the exchange of expertise between industry and education, to accelerate the pace of research and development, and, crucially, to deliver benefits to businesses and the economy.

Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “I welcome the launch of this project, with support from the Scottish Government and a wide range of educational partners and industry representatives from across the region.  Developing new skills is vital to support innovation, which is essential to ensure the Tay region and Scotland more generally can take advantage of opportunities in the engineering and manufacturing sectors in the years to come.”

TCEP is an ambitious partnership of six organisations: Angus Council, Dundee and Angus College, Angus Training Group, Fife College, Perth College UHI, and Perth and Kinross Council. It was officially launched on Monday 19th June at the Engineering Partnership Innovation Centre (EPIC) in Arbroath, where Dundee and Angus College will deliver engineering training. An engaging event was held to mark the inaugural launch, with representatives from each of the member organisations being present to mark an exciting new chapter in the region. The collaboration between the six organisations is expected to provide a wealth of mutual benefit, bringing together a wealth of regional experience and expertise.

Angus Council Leader, Councillor Beth Whiteside, said: “As the Economic and business environment continues to evolve, placing more importance on innovation and skills, there is a growing need for businesses to adopt new digital technologies, develop renewable sources of energy and cleaner manufacturing to reach net zero.  The new engineering partnership marks a huge step forward for the engineering sector, creating opportunities for demonstration, and product prototyping, whilst developing training programmes to provide the skills needed to adapt to future engineering, design, and technology methods.”

Invited guests from the Engineering Industry and Education were one of the first to view the state-of-the-art training facility hosted by Dundee and Angus College. The new facility hosts a variety of training equipment, including 3D printers and a range of engineering machinery. These tools are designed to enhance students’ skills and increase their employability in the engineering industry.

Julie Grace Vice Principal at Dundee and Angus College attended the official launch and said, “This innovative partnership brings together the collective expertise of training organisations, public sector bodies, and engineering employers in the region. It combines their experiences to create a powerful platform which businesses can only benefit from and Dundee and Angus College are delighted to be part of TCEP.”

The partnership will provide an inclusive and collaborative way of addressing training needs and issues within the industry. By tapping into the experiences and specialist knowledge of the partnership, solutions, and strategies can be developed to suit the changing needs of those in the industry.

Angus Training Group are part of TCEP and Garry Talbert shared, “Angus Training Group is always willing and interested in any initiatives that promote and hold the same values and goals to services that we may provide. We hope that by taking part we will be able to contribute to promoting advanced services to businesses and support them moving forward.  It is also an opportunity to encourage young talent into the engineering sector by engaging with them in schools to enlighten learners of the rewarding opportunities that are available in the sector.”

TCEP will open up a range of possibilities for businesses, allowing them to gain a comprehensive understanding of how new technology, techniques, and practices can be leveraged to the benefit of their operations. It has the focus of improving efficiency and reducing dangerous operations enabling staff to be utilised in more valuable roles. This understanding will equip businesses with the resources to drive their improvements and help them identify what other areas of development are required.

Dorothee Leslie, Vice Principal at Fife College, said: “The partnership will be pivotal in helping develop the skills and training opportunities in advanced manufacturing and engineering that we know will allow our local and regional economies to thrive, both now and in the future, which in turn supports our mission as a college to transform the lives of our students.”

Engineering and Manufacturing has long been engrained in the culture of the region, yet despite this, a skills shortage has drastically affected this sector. TCEP seeks to fill this void by recognising the need for proper training and support systems tailored towards potential employees. Skills gained by future and existing employees will improve productivity supporting businesses to maintain and grow their businesses in a sustainable manner.

Nicky Inglis, Sector Development Director for STEM at Perth College UHI another education partner of TCEP shared, “TCEP will help support local and regional STEM businesses and STEM industry providing them access to state of the art production equipment and give these businesses access to specialised, experienced, and highly knowledgeable staff. This accessibility will allow these businesses to grow and develop their own staff, in new and emerging technologies, which should, in turn, allow these businesses to become more productive, innovative, and competitive.”

TCEP will bridge the gap between business and educational institutions providing a platform for both sides to learn from each other, sharing ideas and the best practices for growth.

Cllr Andrew Parrott, Perth & Kinross Council Convenor of the Environment and Infrastructure Committee said – “A revival in engineering is a key part of the green industrial revolution that we are now seeing across the UK.  We are developing a Product Innovation Lab as part of the TCEP, which will help develop products, from concept to commercialisation and support businesses and new business start-ups to develop and grow”.