Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce is putting skills high on its agenda as part of an exciting new programme.

“Building Bridges” is Dunbartonshire Chamber’s new Skills Development Programme, designed to help develop local skills to meet the needs of the local economy.

The initiative is being led by board members Sharon Colvan and Philip Briscoe, and Chief Executive, Damon Scott.

Damon Scott explains how Building Bridges came about: “Difficulty in recruiting staff with the right skills from the local area is a recurring theme in the ongoing feedback we gather from our members and other Dunbartonshire businesses. The same feedback was coming from a range of sectors from the more obvious ones like engineering and manufacturing to insurance and contact centres.

“As an active member we built a strong relationship with Sharon Colvan, whose engineering company, Glenhead Engineering Ltd, has gone through a significant growth in the last decade. A highly-skilled workforce is at the heart of Glenhead’s success so the theme was already a priority for her.

“One of our directors, Philip Briscoe of manufacturing company, European Circuits Ltd, represents the Chamber on the board of Developing Young Workforce (West) board so it made sense to build on this, bring Sharon onto the board and increase our activity in this area to respond the needs of our businesses.

“A woman-led engineering company is also somewhat of a rarity so having a female role-model promoting STEM subjects and associated career opportunities is hugely beneficial to help us address the gender imbalance in these areas.”

The title for the new programme was inspired by a project Sharon undertook with a local school to physically repair a small bridge but it was also chosen to represent the strengthening of links between schools and business, between businesses, with partners and with the young workforce.

Building Bridges will continue developing relationships with local primary and secondary schools, facilitating school visits from representatives of local businesses as well as hosted tours and events designed to build an understanding of career opportunities and skills requirements.

Hands-on expertise from within the business community will support innovation by helping schools undertake practical projects and the Chamber will also provide business mentors to local schools to give young entrepreneurs the support to turn their business idea into reality.

Going forward, Building Bridges, supported by communications and business engagement campaigns, will help create, promote and encourage work experience placements, internships, apprenticeships and full-time employment opportunities.

Sharon Colvan is excited about the future of the programme that will compliment current provision: “It is really important that the skills agenda is led by the private-sector and Building Bridges is a great opportunity to do that with the guidance and support of the Dunbartonshire business community. We are already working with schools and Developing the Young Workforce to help develop skills on a local level and DYW (West) recently signed up as our first “Supporter” for the programme to embed that relationship.

“We are delighted with the enthusiasm and commitment we already have for the programme from within the Chamber membership. With an increased focus on the value of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Engagement there is an appetite within the business community to find ways they can contribute whether that is by investing time or making a financial contribution. We will be working hard to generate the support that will help us realise our ambitions for Building Bridges to make a real impact on skills in Dunbartonshire which has some areas of need socially and economically.

“Our Partner+ Membership offers an ideal way for organisations demonstrate their commitment to both the Dunbartonshire Chamber and the future prosperity of Dunbartonshire and we would be keen to engage with any businesses that want to put something back.”

To find out more about how to get involved with Building Bridges and for support and sponsorship opportunities email skills@dunbartonshirechamber.co.uk or phone Damon Scott on 0141 280 0272. To find out more about Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce visit