The Open University has received a £1 million grant to support Scottish SME’s with skills training in response to Covid-19.
Announced yesterday, the new funding will enable SMEs across the country to access up to £5,000 of online training, delivered by the Open University in Scotland.
The OU programme forms part of the Scottish Funding Council’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund Phase 2, which aims to help businesses upskill and reskill their existing workforces.
Phase 1 of the initiatives focused on delivery for levy payers in partnership with Scotland’s colleges.
The support marks the first time the fund is being made available to SMEs across the private, public and third sector’s, the Scottish Government confirmed.
Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said the funding boost will provide a critical lifeline to both businesses and workers across the country in the wake of the pandemic.
He 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.”
Hepburn added: “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.”
Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland welcomed the announcement: “The Open University in Scotland has led in the development of new skills for those facing redundancy, furlough or sectoral job pressures as a result of Covid-19.
“We welcome this funding which allows us to deliver support at scale to small and medium-sized businesses across Scotland providing vital training as they adapt to new ways of working post-pandemic.”
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Stewart said support will focus heavily on supporting employees in areas where existing skill gaps pose a serious problem, such as the digital sector, health and social care and the green economy.
“We will help businesses with a tailored, flexible package of online training to boost productivity and upskill and retrain employees particularly in those areas where skills gaps exist across Scotland.” Stewart said.