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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Employers

Skills

Q1. What is the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF)?

The FWDF is a funding stream which enables businesses to access training for their employees to help address skills gaps. It has a key role in addressing the very significant employability and skills needs we know employers and employees will have in the coming months as we look to support Scotland’s economic recovery.

When referring to “employees” to describe who can attend the training we are meaning any individual who provides a service or generates revenue for the employer. Therefore individuals such as volunteers or stakeholders can receive the FWDF training as long as it is being provided to enhance their skills to increase the productivity of the employer accessing the FWDF.

The potential avenues depending on your business status and your individual needs:

UK Apprenticeship Levy Payers

  • A £13m fund for colleges to deliver training to UK Apprenticeship Levy paying companies in Scotland. OR
  • A £2m fund for Levy paying employers to access training (from Independent Training Providers (ITPs) where this training is not available from colleges. Skills Development Scotland is managing this funding stream.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

  • £4m fund for colleges to deliver training to SME employers. OR
  • £1m fund for The Open University in Scotland (OUiS) to deliver online training at undergraduate and postgraduate level to SME employers.

Q2. How much can I access?

Apprenticeship Levy payer

  • £15,000 via either a local college in Scotland, in the first instance, (from £13m fund) or an ITP if specific training is unavailable at a college (from £2m fund).

SME

  • £5,000 via either a local college in Scotland or via The Open University in Scotland.

If you are both a Levy payer and a SME you can access either the £15,000 or £5,000 funding but NOT both.

Each eligible organization can only submit ONE application.

The funding will be accessed on a first come first served basis.


Q3. Where can I access more information on the FWDF?

Levy payers

SMEs


Q4. How do I apply for training via the FWDF?

Colleges, The Open University or Skills Development Scotland (as appropriate) will take you through the application process. Contact details can be found via the links above.


Q5. How do I prove I am eligible for the FWDF?

Levy payers

  • You will need to provide a copy of an official document proving payment of Levy (e.g. EPS, P32, payroll report).

SMEs

  • You will need to provide a signed copy of an official document proving your status as a business, such as:

Q6. What type of training can be accessed using the FWDF?

  • Training that has been identified with the aim of increasing productivity and/or supporting economic recovery and/or filling known skills gaps.
  • Your training provider (college, OUiS or ITP) will help you identify needs through a training needs analysis.

Q7. Can employees attend training whilst they are furloughed?

As at 23 February 2021 UK Government guidance indicated that furloughed employees can engage in training as long as the training does not provide a service or generate revenue on behalf of their organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.

Please review the most up to date information on the UK Government’s website to confirm the conditions under which your furloughed employees can access training.


Q8. What training courses are NOT supported by FWDF?

  • Training which is a statutory requirement for the individual’s continuing employment, including any training which an employee is required by law to undertake in order to carry out the duties associated with his or her employment (e.g. certain health & safety training - see Q9 below).
  • Lessons towards attaining a driving licence (category A or B).
  • Outward bound type courses and leisure or sporting activities other than those that lead to a recognised coaching or teaching qualification.

Q9. Does the FWDF cover training required by law?

The FWDF does not normally support provision of industry qualifications/training where there is a statutory obligation required by law - this remains the employer’s responsibility. However, where employers can evidence additional training needs that are required to meet statutory requirements as a result of COVID-19, and where training is adjusted to meet physical distancing and hygiene guidance (for example), this training can be provided.


Q10. What happens if the cost of an employer’s training needs exceeds the capped amount for the FWDF?

FWDF can be used as part-payment towards training at a higher cost.


Q11. What happens if an employer’s FWDF application is declined?

The ‘training needs analysis’ undertaken between the college/training provider and employer should ensure an employer’s identified training needs reflect FWDF criteria and priorities, including priority groups outlined in the guidance. Employers should be notified by the college/training provider, in writing, if their application has been unsuccessful.

If an employer wishes to appeal a decision taken by a provider, they should make an approach to the SFC in the first instance. Approaches will be handled on a case by case basis and led by an overseeing group of SFC and Scottish Government officials.


Q12. What happens if an employer applies to access training but the application is unsuccessful as the fund has already been fully utilised?

If an employer’s application is unsuccessful as a result of high demand for the FWDF the employer’s application should be held on a waiting list until funds become available, either through an in-year redistribution or until future rounds of funding become available.


Q13. Where can FWDF training be delivered?

  • The most appropriate and practicable arrangements for delivery of training should be discussed and agreed by the college/ITP and employer.
  • The OUiS training will be delivered online through its innovative platforms.

Q14. If an employee leaves their employment during or after receiving training funded by the Flexible Workforce Development Fund can their employer claim back the cost of the training from the employee?

No. The funding for FWDF training is provided by the Scottish Government, not the employer, to help upskill or reskill employees in Scottish-based companies therefore it is not appropriate for an employer to reclaim the cost of the course from the employee.