Skills for Business Roadshow unlocks fully-funded training for Scottish SMEs 

Zahra Hedges, Chief Executive Officer of young people's mental health charity Winning Scotland, who has taken on a full-team approach to staff training utalising the FWDF funding with the Open University. (Photo: Neil Hanna)

THE OPEN University (OU) in Scotland has launched its inaugural Skills for Business Roadshow which will be touring Scotland in April and May.

Recognising that managing skills gaps and talent retention is particularly challenging for rural and semi-rural based SMEs, the Skills for Business Roadshow aims to raise awareness of the vast range of relevant flexible, short online courses that SMEs can access at little or no cost to themselves or their employees.

The only university that can access the Scottish Government’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), SMEs can receive OU training grants of up to £5,000 to support the upskilling and reskilling of existing staff, leading to improved business efficiency and productivity.  Larger employers in the private, public and third sectors can also tap into training up to the value of £15,000.

Working alongside industry partners, the Roadshow is co-hosted by a number of Scottish Chambers including – Ayrshire; Dundee & Angus; Dumfries & Galloway; Fife; Forth Valley; Inverness; and Moray, as well as the Cairngorms Business Partnership and a number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). 

Research has shown Covid, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis have created a perfect storm for businesses, with 70% of employers in Scotland highlighting their organisations are facing acute skills shortages, with the impact leading to reduced output, profitability and growth. 

David Allen, Senior Partnerships Manager at The Open University in Scotland, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging few years, especially for smaller businesses and organisations based in rural locations. The OU is in a position to offer easy access to a high-quality programme of flexible online courses that can have a big impact on business performance, at little or no cost because of the funding available.  

“This is our first-ever Skills for Business Roadshow and it presents an incredible opportunity to engage with business owners on a one-to-one level, gaining a greater understanding of their needs and challenges. Our goal for the Roadshow is to provide them with support and advice on how The OU can help create a tailored training strategy that will address the specific skills gaps and needs within their business.” 

The Skills for Business Roadshow will be an informal but informative session, also providing insights and skills-related trends from the recent Open University Scotland Business Barometer Report, produced in association with the British Chamber of Commerce. 

The first roadshow event kicks off in Falkirk on Friday 21 April. For more information on FWDF funding and to register for any of the Skills for Business Roadshow visit:

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