A £1 million programme offering small to medium-sized businesses across Scotland up to £5,000 of training each has been launched by the OU in Scotland.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund programme aims to boost productivity and growth of SMEs in response to Covid-19. It is supported by the Scottish Funding Council and opened to applications on Monday (1 February).

Following the Scottish Government announcement in mid-November, teams in Scotland, BDU and Marketing and Communications responded rapidly to develop the offer, a range of short courses and modules.

These reflect existing Scottish skills gaps including leadership and business, digital and IT, health and social care and the green economy.

Marie Hendry, Deputy Director, External Engagement and Partnerships, at the OU in Scotland, said: “The Open University is uniquely placed to help industry address national and regional skills gaps and support employers to develop in an ever-changing world of work.

“We know that Scotland’s SMEs have been particularly affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and these businesses and their people will play a crucial role in Scotland’s recovery. Our tailored training plans will help SME companies to upskill and retrain their existing workforce to maximise the opportunities to restart and recover.”

The OU already provides workforce development solutions to over 260 organisations from the Shetland Isles to Dumfries and Galloway benefitting over 900 employees. It is the first university to provide training for small to medium-sized businesses under the Flexible Workforce Development Fund.

Encouraging companies across the private, public and third sectors to discuss tailored training for their organisation, Suzanne McQuade, Business Relationships Manager, said: “We offer a highly flexible approach working with companies to understand their business challenges and shaping training and development to suit them. Staff can access our innovative online training in the workplace or from home at a time to suit while accommodating ongoing business operations.”

Find out more about OU support for SMEs on the Flexible Workforce Development Fund webpage.

For more information contact Suzanne.McQuade@open.ac.uk