Dave Hardy’s employees have had quite a lot of downtime the past couple of years. His two businesses – the events company Glory Days and the apartment company Destination Edinburgh – had periods of total inactivity due to Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions, with employees furloughed through the quiet times.
So when Dave heard about the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), he realised it was a great opportunity for his employees to boost their skills and capabilities, with the added bonus of bringing people together virtually and helping them feel connected to each other and to their work.
Obviously, everyone has been through a tough time but this was a really positive thing for them to do. We were looking for opportunities for people to learn and it’s been really valuable to them.Dave Hardy
Business Owner of Glory Days and Destination Edinburgh
The FWDF is a Scottish Government initiative that provides funded training to eligible organisations in Scotland.
For the second consecutive year, The Open University (OU) in Scotland has been allocated a grant of £1 million by the Scottish Funding Council to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recover from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic through developing key skills that will enable them to make the most of current and future opportunities.
SMEs can access training up to the value of £5,000 across a wide variety of OU courses, such as short courses like microcredentials, or longer postgraduate-level programmes.
After looking at what was on offer, Hardy signed his employees up for a variety of digital and general business and management courses: a postgraduate module in project management, a short course on Finance for non-financial managers and the microcredential Business Management: Fundamentals of Management Accounting.
Gillian Brunt, sales and event manager at Glory Days, did the project management postgraduate module. Although she was excited at the thought of developing her skills, she also felt apprehensive as it was her first experience of online learning and her first bit of studying in 18 years.
However, I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of interaction via the forum and with tutors, so I felt that it worked well,” she says. “And as the course went on my confidence lifted.Gillian Brunt
Sales and Event Manager at Glory Days
As a result, Gillian says she now has much more confidence in her abilities and that the learning has improved her approach to her work.
One of her colleagues, Natalia Pantaleev, also completed the project management postgraduate module. The events sales executive at Glory Days, Natalia enjoyed having something to focus on and to motivate her during furlough and the opportunity to work on her professional and personal development. It was also her first experience of learning through the OU and like Gillian, she found the mode of delivery and the way the course was structured really helpful. “It was really accessible and engaging and easy to navigate. I really enjoyed the experience and found it easy to reach out to tutors with any questions.”
Although Natalia has substantial experience of project management, the course has given her the theoretical knowledge to back up her practical experience. Some elements of the course were particularly helpful, such as the focus on stakeholder management. “I realised that it’s a really big part of project management, which has been really useful to me.”
It’s several months now since Natalia and Gillian completed their courses, but Natalia says she still notices the impact of the learning.
It helps us to do things in a better way – making better decisions and making more informed choices. We are quite a small team so bringing in a different point of view helps to broaden our perspectives. It’s been really useful.Natalia Pantaleev
Events Sales Executive at Glory Days
Dave agrees with them both that the learning has been worthwhile, particularly during the launch of a new website and booking system. “It helped us with our thought processes and our general management. And it helped us drive this digital change forward.”