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Responding to the Pandemic through Upskilling

Dr Gill Murray of Heriot-Watt University discusses how they are using SFC’s Upskilling Fund to help come out of the global pandemic.

For 200 years Heriot-Watt University has been a pioneer in practical work-based learning. In keeping with that tradition the University is now in its second year of providing the Upskilling Scotland Scholarship for working professionals living in Scotland.

Students working together at laptop.

Throughout the pandemic, the University has seen an increasing demand for a growing number of the fully funded courses. The scholarship has been established in response to the current economic situation and is committed to building the Scottish economy by supporting the upskilling and reskilling of individuals. While the scholarship is open to everyone who resides or has the legal right to work in Scotland, priority is given to those who fall within the redundancy and furlough categories.

Growing demand for different courses

This year the University has broadened the number of fully funded courses available. This has been in response to growing demand for upskilling in different sectors. The range of courses from the University’s prestigious online MBA programme has been extended to seven (from five last year).

Also added this year, to support the construction industry, is a range of five construction and infrastructure related courses drawn from a number of industry accredited and internationally recognised online MSc programmes.

In response to the changing dynamic of market demand and skills needs we have also developed new courses concentrating on these areas:

  • Digital Leadership
  • Operations Management
  • Strategies for Managing Supply Chains

These particular courses are tasters of the brand new MSc degree programmes: MSc Digital Leadership, MSc Business Analytics and Consultancy and MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

The benefits to business

The popularity of the scholarship goes from strength to strength. Over 500 individuals from over 290 different companies have taken up courses. One of the successes from the University’s point of view is that the courses have appealed to individuals from companies of all sizes and across a wide spectrum of industry sectors across Scotland.

Large organisations have embraced the benefits that the scholarship brings. For example, they have seen a significant take up of the Delivering Successful Projects course, as employees look to upskill in an area that will help in business transformation and ultimately help the Scottish economy.

SSE is an example of a large organisation which has embraced the benefits that the scholarship brings. In particular, they have seen a significant uptake of the Delivering Successful Projects course, as employees look to upskill in areas that will help them to drive the business transformation necessary for all Scottish organisations at this time of economic recovery.

At the other end of the scale we have smaller companies, like pureLiFi, that have also seen the advantages of taking up the courses. Gemma Morrison, HR Director at pureLiFi, said:

"Continuous improvement is one of our Company values and it’s really important to us that we give our people opportunities to learn and grow. We were really excited to be given the chance to upskill six members of our team with support from the Scottish Funding Council and Heriot-Watt University. This is bringing valuable new knowledge into our growing business on subjects including project management, leadership and strategy."

pureLiFi is a mobile wireless technology company based in Edinburgh which produces world-leading LiFi products which utilise light for wireless communication. They have around 40 very talented and diverse employees who work hard to make the business a success and in 2020 they were named Scotland’s most innovative technology company by Business Cloud.

Flexible learning to suit the individual

Students have full access to the University’s state-of-the-art online learning platform and will be able to work through the course material at a pace that suits them. The courses are delivered online by national and international leaders in their field. At the end of the course students can opt to take an exam and will be able to download a certificate of achievement on completion.

At Heriot-Watt we are committed to supporting economic growth following the pandemic and have launched our Prospectus for Recovery and Growth outlining key areas of focus. Upskilling is part of that commitment and we’re delighted that our Upskilling Scotland Scholarship continues to have a positive impact on businesses across all sectors. We’ve been particularly pleased to strengthen our upskilling opportunities to include construction, digital and modern business courses – all linked to our renowned MBA and MSc programmes.

You can find out more about all the Heriot-Watt upskilling courses.

Dr Gill Murray, Deputy Principal (Enterprise and Business), Heriot-Watt University - 22 Jul 2021