A £1 million grant has been awarded to The Open University in Scotland to support small to medium-sized businesses with skills training to boost productivity and growth in response to Covid-19.
The new funding announced today by Scottish Government Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn will enable small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to access up to £5,000 of online training delivered by The Open University in Scotland.
The OU programme is part of the Scottish Funding Council’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund Phase 2 to help businesses to continue to upskill and reskill existing workforces.
Phase 1 focused on delivery for levy payers in partnership with Scotland’s colleges. This is the first time the fund is being made available to SMEs across the private, public and third sectors and the OU in Scotland is the first university training partner.
Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland said:
“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.
“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 like business management, digital, health and social care and the green economy.”
Professor Tim Blackman, Vice Chancellor of The Open University said:
“The Open University has throughout the pandemic worked with all four UK governments providing courses for free learning platforms for furloughed workers or those facing redundancy relevant to the needs in each nation.
“We’re delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the wider role that the OU can play in delivering training to smaller businesses, investing in skills and the economy of communities across Scotland.
“For businesses to adapt to the crisis, they need to invest in the skills of their people now. As the economy recovers, we are ready to deploy our expertise in online education to support businesses and workers across the UK to develop the skills they need to thrive in the future.”
In announcing the latest phase of the funding, 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.”