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Flexible learning delivers vital upskilling opportunities

Euan Murning first heard about the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) from the membership body Scottish Care. Once he explored it further and learned more about the opportunity – funded training up to the value of £5,000 – it didn’t take him long to decide that it was an excellent prospect for him and his staff. “You don’t often get the chance to access high quality training that is funded,” he says.

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 businesses 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.

Through the FWDF, employers are able to access a wide variety of OU courses, from postgraduate training to short courses, such as microcredentials.

Hogganfield Care logo

The Director at two care organisations – Hogganfield Care & Skye Care – Euan enrolled several members of staff on OU courses through the fund. Staff at Hogganfield Care undertook a microcredential in Business Management: Marketing Principles and Practice, a postgraduate module in Making strategy with systems thinking in practice, a short course on Developing better teams and a short course on Developing your leadership style.

For Skye Care, the most popular course was a short course in Improving diabetes management, with employees also choosing to complete the New managers’ toolkit short course, the Digital forensics postgraduate module and the Business Management: Fundamentals of Management Accounting microcredential.

Prior to Covid-19, Euan says training in the two organisations was traditionally trainer-led and classroom-based. Lockdown restrictions rendered that kind of training very difficult, which has had a big impact on the provision of training in a sector where the workforce needs to continually update its skills. “Since Covid-19, the opportunities for in-house training have been dramatically reduced in the care sector,” says Euan.

This situation precipitated a shift to remote learning, a move that Euan says has been very successful. All of the employees who accessed the OU courses have given positive feedback about their experiences and the skills they’ve learned. In particular, Euan says they were impressed by the flexible nature of the study and the support provided by the OU. “Flexibility was a real positive for staff,” he says. “In fact, it has all been overwhelmingly positive.”

Euan has also taken advantage of the FWDF, using it to top up his own skills. “I really enjoyed the course and found the material challenging but engaging. The assignments were the highlight, especially the final ones which allowed you to really get to grips with the subject and test how much you had learned. The way I approach certain tasks has now changed for the better as a result.”

For someone who hasn’t undertaken higher education in over a decade (and was a little nervous about how it was going to hold my attention with a full workload), I have to say the course was fantastic and the lecturers were encouraging and accessible throughout. There was a nice balance between videos, reading and quizzes to aid in learning. I particularly enjoyed the discussion forums where we were asked to give our own examples and debate our thoughts and opinions. It was engaging to read other business professionals discuss how they would apply the topics learnt to their workforce, especially as everyone worked in different professions to one another.

Karen Bryson
Sales and Marketing Executive - Hogganfield Care


To find out more about the FWDF and the OU courses available to SMEs in Scotland visit www.open.ac.uk/business/fwdf

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