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Upskilling Scotland

The Open University is committed to providing accessible upskilling opportunities for individuals and businesses across the length and breadth of Scotland. Increased skills, employability, and productivity are vital to help the economy.

We provide a range of upskilling opportunities, from short credit-bearing microcredentials courses to large-scale skills development programmes, many of which offer fully-funded places. OU students also benefit from the part-time fee grant scheme, which covers course fees for eligible students.  

Partnership working

Partnership working is an essential element to the upskilling work we do, as shown by the examples below. Working collaboratively across all sectors at local, regional and national levels strengthens our shared goal of reaching and supporting people who will benefit from upskilling.

If you are interested in working with us or would like more information please get in touch.

Man using a laptop at home. Skills for people facing redundancy and furlough 

We support workers who are facing redundancy or furlough to gain skills for career and employment opportunities, providing a complete wrap-around support service, from a dedicated skills portal to online webinars and individual advice. 

We provide access to our award-winning OpenLearn platform of free courses on Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) My World of Work website. We also work in partnership with the Scottish Government’s free advice and support service, Partnership Action for Continued Employment (PACE). 

"Partnership Action for Continuing Employment is delighted to work in partnership with the OU, to help individuals who have been made redundant by providing them with opportunities to upskill and help them take the next step in their career journey." Calum MacLean, PACE

Photo of three people looking at a computer together. Skills for job seekers

We provide a fully-funded digital skills development programme for people who are unemployed or on low incomes, through Skills Development Scotland’s Digital Start Fund.  

We have a national partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus, to tackle the common skills gaps among jobseekers in 750 job centres in the UK. We train DWP staff to share our skills development offerings with job seekers looking to increase their skills set.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with the OU, particularly on the OpenLearn DWP guide, where our work coaches have benefitted from information sessions to help guide customers through valuable accredited learning products and employability support."’ Angela Penman, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

Two people working in a workshop. Skills for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Many of Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) workers need to be upskilled or reskilled for jobs of the future. We work with enterprise and skills agencies and representative and member organisations, to reach SMEs with a range of support to upskill their workforces.

SMEs across Scotland can access training up to the value of £5,000 delivered by The OU to support upskilling or retraining employees leading to enhanced productivity and growth. More information is on our SMEs webpage

"As the owner of a small rural business, the OU provided me with an upskilling opportunity, enabling me to share key business skills with other local SMEs during these difficult times." Ross Stopper, Hot Gecko Media Ltd, Shetland

Skills for transitioning online  

Using our experience in online education, we support many organisations to maintain business continuity through the provision of skills to transition online. For example, we work with a Fair Start Scotland employabilty service provider Fedcap, upskilling their tutors to provide their service online. 

This skills provision is available to colleges, local authorities, community learning organisations, and trade unions.

"With the new way of working from face-to-face to digital, Fedcap felt the need to upskill tutors to help adapt to delivering courses online. Open University experts in this area were able to share best practice with our tutors to keep their delivery engaging." Margaret Barton, Start Scotland

OpenLearn homepage screengrab

Skills for communities 

We support local authorities who play a key role in the delivery of employability across Scotland’s communities. 

Using our free learning site OpenLearn, we provide online learning to identify and tackle employability and skills development. Our work with local authorities across Scotland reflects many of the city and regional strategies to promote inclusive growth. We also work in partnership with the organisation for local government improvement in Scotland, the Improvement Service. 

"The free training on OpenLearn is a great resource and opens accessible pathways for learners to upskill, reskill, start their learning journey and bring new ideas to the table." Julia McMurdie, North Ayrshire Council

Skills for young people  

We work in partnership with key organisations whose aims are to tackle youth unemployment through employability programmes, such as Kickstart Gateway Organisations, Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) and Youth Guarantee. 

This support involves the provision of key employability skills that will upskill young people for the world of work.

For further information on skills and support, please get in touch. 

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Contact us

Diane Cooper
Partnerships Manager
Tel: 0131 549 7120
Page Munro
Partnerships Officer
Tel: 0131 549 7958