New Dundee partnership drives women into work

Left to Right: Caryn Gibson, Angie De Vos and Marieam Adghaim

A NEW collaboration aimed at reskilling and upskilling hundreds of local women, while filling local labour shortages, has been announced in Dundee.

By teaming up with Women’s Business Station as an Empowerment Partner*, Dundee and Angus College will deliver training and qualifications through a number of six to eight-week academies covering everything from hospitality and digital to manufacturing and engineering.  As well as gaining accredited qualifications, the women will gain exposure to local businesses generating a range of opportunities from interviews and placements to employment.

The suite of courses, aimed at increasing employability and entrepreneurship amongst women across the region, will kickstart in August 2022 with an English as a Second Language (ESOL) course. Around 15 women from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, part of Women’s Business Station’s ‘Aspiring Women’ programme, will participate.  The first two in a series of academies will launch soon after, focusing on digital and hospitality, and open to the wider Women’s Business Station community. 

Launched in 2019, Women’s Business Station is currently supporting over 500 women from across Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife, a combination of active businesswomen and those in the process of setting up in business.  

Angie De Vos, CEO of Women’s Business Station, commented: “Women’s Business Station exists to empower and enable women to take that next step, whether training, seeking work after a break, or setting up a business. From confidence-building and networking to testing the market with their product or service, we support women every step of the way and thrive on helping them transform into who they want to be. By joining forces with the College, we can take our efforts one step further within the supportive environment we’re known for. As well as enjoying a more accessible transition into further education, they’ll gain a new perspective on the world of work, whether setting up their own enterprise, carving a brand new career or progressing onto higher education.”

Caryn Gibson, Business Partnerships Manager and a Director of Women’s Business Station, added: “We are extremely proud to be partnering with Women’s Business Station which has made significant inroads into our local economy over the last few years, transforming the lives of hundreds of women in the process. Our partnership will bolster that offering and support the women to continue pursuing their dreams and aspirations.”

“With high levels of unemployment throughout the region, women are bearing the brunt, particularly since the pandemic. However, this is also a time of hope and opportunity. While countless jobs remain unfilled, mass recruitment is also on the cards. By exploring various solutions to meet the women’s objectives, we will prepare them for employment, self-employment or further study through the delivery of key skills and qualifications. While supporting the female community as they take the next step, we will not just create tangible change for the women but shape a high-calibre, robust workforce to fill the skills gaps and invigorate our economy.”

The partnership has been welcomed by a leading figure within Dundee’s hospitality sector.

Kelly Fairweather who, together with her husband Paul, owns The Selkie and Edna Mae in Dundee’s Exchange Street, said: “The hospitality sector has taken a significant beating over the last couple of years due to Covid-19, Brexit and now a crippling cost-of-living crisis. We’re also facing a serious recruitment crisis – we’re not just understaffed but also coming up against constant barriers when it comes to finding people to fill our posts. We are therefore delighted to hear about this new local partnership which will not only support women to start new careers but also help create that steady, ready-made workforce which businesses like ours so desperately need.”

One of the women hoping to take part in the hospitality academy is Marieam Adghaim, who lives in Dundee with her husband and two young children, and who took part in the Aspiring Women programme.

Marieam, who is from Libya, is an accomplished baker of sweet and savoury goods including Arabic-style sweets (Baklava) and cakes.

She said: “I would love to set up a business selling my produce, perhaps running a café one day or working at different events. However, I need the right qualifications to do that and to meet the legal requirements such as licences and food hygiene certificates. Aspiring Women has made a huge difference to me and the college courses would help me take things to the next level.”

Since its launch, Women’s Business Station has supported 800 women, 209 of whom have launched businesses and 168 growing a business.  An additional 243 have entered into positive pathways such as education, career progression or volunteering, with 195 new jobs created. In doing so, a staggering £10.4M of economic impact has been generated within the city and surrounding areas.

* Empowerment Partners work in partnership with Women’s Business Station to support the socio-economic empowerment of women in business across Dundee and the surrounding areas.

For more information, please get in touch with Women’s Business Station –

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