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More employers across Scotland can now apply for funding to provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities for their staff.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) helps businesses to invest in their workforce and is available for all of Scotland’s employers subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. For the first time, the fund will now be available for both levy payers and SMEs, across the private, public and third sectors.

In August this year, the FWDF was doubled to £20 million for 2020-21, with £13 million made available through the first phase to allow colleges to provide additional support for levy paying employers. This was part of the Scottish Government’s response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second phase of the fund, backed by £7 million, will also be utilised to respond directly to the impacts of the pandemic, and will be open to applications from 16 November 2020.

Of this, £5 million will be distributed by the Scottish Funding Council to support SMEs through a college and Open University in Scotland partnership, while Skills Development Scotland will offer a new option which will test the use of private training providers for levy paying businesses who require specialist training.

Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said:

“Opportunities for training are essential for both employers and employees, and in August we doubled funding for our Flexible Workforce Development Fund to £20 million for 2020-21 to ensure businesses across Scotland can continue to invest in their workforce.

“As this fund adapts and responds to the impacts of the pandemic, we will also see the introduction of additional delivery partners including the Open University in Scotland and private training providers for employers who require more specialist training.

“By strengthening upskilling the existing workforce, in partnership with colleges, we can retain jobs and support employers as they pivot and adapt to a new and very different working environment as a result of the pandemic.”