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Employers across Scotland are being given more opportunities to upskill and reskill their staff thanks to new funding.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) helps businesses continue to invest in their workforce and is available for all of Scotland’s employers who pay to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy.

The fund was doubled in size in August to £20million to help businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19, with an initial £13million being made available to allow colleges to provide additional support for levy paying employers.

Now the second £7million phase has been announced, with £5million available to support SMEs through a college and Open University in Scotland partnership, while Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will offer a new option testing the use of private training providers for levy paying businesses who require specialist training.

Employer feedback

Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “As this fund adapts and responds to the impacts of the pandemic, we will also see the introduction of additional delivery partners including the Open University in Scotland and private training providers for employers who require more specialist training.

“By strengthening upskilling the existing workforce, in partnership with colleges, we can retain jobs and support employers as they pivot and adapt to a new and very different working environment as a result of the pandemic.”

Marion Beattie, Head of Skills Growth and Inward Investment at SDS, said: “This new strand of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund has been developed in response to feedback from employers, increasing their options as they consider how to upskill and reskill their workforce.

“Guidance will be available from SDS so businesses can identify the skills they need and how best to access them.

“In this way the fund will help employers adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, protect jobs and to sustain and grow their business.”

Vital training

The funding was welcomed by Andrew McRae, Policy Chair of FSB Scotland.

He said: “This new funding could help many Scottish smaller businesses, and their staff teams, navigate the current crisis and ensure they’re prepared to take advantage of the recovery when it comes.

“FSB has been making the case to open up this cash pot to local firms, and we’d encourage all sorts of smaller operators to investigate how to access this support to build their business and develop their employees.”

"The fund will help employers adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, protect jobs and to sustain and grow their business.”

Marion Beattie, Skills Development Scotland

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, added:

“The Open University in Scotland has led in the development of new skills for those facing redundancy, furlough or sectoral job pressures as a result of Covid-19.

“We welcome this funding which allows us to deliver support at scale to small and medium sized businesses across Scotland providing vital training as they adapt to new ways of working post pandemic.”

Find out more

Find out more at our website for employers, Our Skillsforce.

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