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Flexible Workforce Development Fund

2021-22: Phase 2

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Scotland can access training up to the value of £5,000 provided by the OU to support staff development. This fund was first announced by the Scottish Government as part of the 2021-22: Phase 2 of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), to help SMEs address key skills gaps and develop the skills your business needs.

How to apply

Get in touch

Tell us about your organisation and your skills needs.

Develop training plan

Our team will work with you to discuss your best route forward.

Complete application

We’ll help you through the process and provide guidance every step of the way.

Register your employees

Your employees will be able to sign up and begin their learning.

Get in touch today to arrange a meeting to discuss utilising the Flexible Workforce Development Fund in your organisation.

Book a meeting

Organisations should apply to the FWDF through the OU.

An OU business advisor will support you to develop a training plan to support your organisation’s identified skills needs. Organisations will then be supported to complete an application, informed by the skills needs analysis and training plan, and submit this to the OU along with evidence of eligibility, for consideration. Upon approval, your employees will be supported to register with the OU upon the courses outlined in your organisation’s training plan.

To find out more about eligibility criteria and how to apply, please download our Flexible Workforce Development Fund Employer Guide for SMEs.

To learn more about upskilling your employees through FWDF with the OU, find out more below:

Scottish employer webinar: Access funded training through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund

Watch our webinar to explore how the OU can support your organisation to develop your staff and volunteers via the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, which is supported by the Scottish Government via the Scottish Funding Council.

Watch on demand

Why train with the OU?

Group of colleagues

The OU offers SMEs a tailored suite of training for their employees, delivered online through our innovative platforms.  It is a highly flexible way to access the training your business needs – in the workplace or from home – whilst accommodating operational requirements and optimising business efficiency, and your employees’ personal commitments.

The flexible learning suits our staff. The support and resources are excellent, allowing study in any location.

Fraser Ferguson, Director of KubeNet Ltd

As Scotland’s largest provider of flexible part-time higher education, with over 50 years’ experience of providing innovative distance learning, we are uniquely equipped to help industry address national skills gaps and support employers to develop a futureproof talent pipeline in an ever-changing world of work.

Top benefits to your business

How the Flexible Workforce Development Fund could benefit your business:

  • Fully funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) – up to £5,000 – so there are no learning costs to your business
  • Increased productivity by your staff developing the future skills your business requires
  • Reduced time away from the workplace – the OU’s digital delivery model allows your staff to maximise the time spent learning, flexing around the business
  • Develop and retain talent, pivoting the skills of your workforce to meet specific needs
  • Upskill and reskill existing staff – plugging essential skills gaps and future proofing your talent pool
  • Learners can apply what they learn immediately to their role in the workplace, resulting in an instant positive impact on the business
  • Drive social mobility by creating equality of opportunity – giving more people access to high-quality training

Want to know more about how upskilling your employees through the FWDF with the OU works? Read Euan’s story from Hogganfield Care & Skye Care and how he has utilised it to secure fully-funded, high quality training for his teams.

What training is available?

The training provided by the OU will position SMEs to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, adapt to new ways of working and maximise the opportunities to restart, recover and renew.

We will support SMEs through training at Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 10 - undergraduate - or SCQF Level 11 - postgraduate - and through industry recognised or accredited provision.

Our training options focus on areas reflecting Scotland’s skills priorities:

  • Leadership & business
  • Digital & IT
  • Health & social care
  • Green economy

The format of the training available will include:

  • Short courses: A range of non-credit bearing CPD opportunities available on demand or as scheduled courses.
  • Microcredentials: Gain specialist knowledge with these sector-endorsed courses and develop practical skills that can be applied in the workplace immediately; achieve either undergraduate or postgraduate credit.
  • Undergraduate modules: Designed for those in industry seeking to develop knowledge, skills and capability.
  • Postgraduate modules: Designed for professionals and those with industry experience - extending knowledge, skills and capability, and developing strategic thinking, innovation and leadership.

Additionally, SMEs – and their communities – are readily able to access our extensive range of free informal learning resources available via our OpenLearn platform to support lifelong learning, with individuals able to gain statements of participation and digital badges.

Please note that we are continuing to develop our portfolio of training available to SMEs from the OU through the FWDF, so additional new courses will become available.


Digital and IT

Even before the pandemic, strong digital and IT skills were coveted by organisations. The pandemic has only accelerated the need for digital transformation and finding new ways to offer products and services – making these skills ever more crucial.


Green Economy

In recent years, sustainability has moved up the political agenda and is now central to many organisations’ future plans. Government targets will change the way organisations deliver their products and services. Specialist skills and knowledge will be vital to this transition. 


Health and Social Care

The immense challenges of COVID-19 have shined a new light on health and social care.

Developing new talent and creating flexible career pathways is vital to ensure a bright future and deliver the services which have been so crucial in helping the country through recent challenges.


Leadership and Business

In a changing world, highly skilled leaders are now even more crucial. From managing change, to navigating financial challenges, leaders need to commit to lifelong learning to navigate a new global, interconnected business landscape.

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Case study

Learn more about upskilling your employees through FWDF with The Open University.

Find out more

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