In December 2016 the Scottish Government announced the introduction of a new Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF). Creation of the FWDF is a response to feedback received during the Scottish Government’s recent consultation on the introduction by the UK Government of the Apprenticeship Levy.
In England, levy paying employers can access funds for apprenticeship training via their own digital account. However, in Scotland, there are currently no plans for a similar account and funding will instead be partly made available via the FWDF.
The FWDF is a £10m fund, and is additional to other types of apprenticeship support which all employers are eligible to access in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s aim in introducing the FWDF is to help employers up-skill and re-skill their existing workforce and address current skills gaps in their organisations.
The key points to be aware of in respect of the FWDF are:
- The fund will be available to all levy-paying employers operating in Scotland across the private, public and third sectors.
- The funding will be provided to colleges in Scotland by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), to allow them to deliver training directly to eligible employers. The colleges will be expected to work closely with eligible employers in their regions, to identify the type of training required to meet each employer’s needs.
- Employers will be given flexibility over how to use their share of the funding to benefit their business, but will be encouraged to focus training on certain groups of employees where possible (including elderly workers, those in low-skilled jobs and employees who identify as belonging to equality groups).
- An application template has been made available on the SFC website and eligible employers will be required to submit an application directly to colleges in their region, during the period from 11 September until 15 December 2017. Provided that the employer and the training requested meet the FWDF criteria, funding will be allocated by colleges on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. It is therefore important to prepare and submit applications as soon as possible.
- 2017/18 is being viewed as a pilot year and, in this year, there will be a £10,000 cap on funding available to each employer, regardless of how much they pay in via the levy. Colleges will be required to report back to the SFC on a regular basis, including details of applications received, the types of training being provided and the cost of training provided to each employer.
Full details of the plans can be found here.
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