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Flexible Workforce Development Fund

Flexible Workforce Development Fund


We are delighted that SMEs across Scotland can now access training up to the value of £5,000 provided by the OU to support staff development.  The new fund announced by the Scottish Government as part of the 2020-21: Phase 2 of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) will be available to Small and Medium Enterprises across Scotland and can help to address key skills gaps and developing the skills your business needs. 

Many of Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to upskill or reskill their workforce to boost productivity and growth or adapt to evolving jobs needs – now more so than ever before, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SMEs are advised to make an application as soon as possible, as access to the fund will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

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.

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

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.

  1. Leadership and Business
  2. Digital and IT
  3. Health and Social Care
  4. Green Economy

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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.

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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. 

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How to Apply

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

To arrange a meeting to discuss your needs, contact us here.

Watch our webinar on demand

'Employer webinar: Flexible Workforce Development Fund'

Find out more about the fund, what it means for your Scottish business, and how to make the most of it before it ends.

Watch on demand

Find out how we can help your organisation

Please contact us to speak to one of our business team advisors.

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