Funding for digital and workforce training.
Immediate investment in jobs and digital technology will provide the foundations for a strong economic recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19), Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said.
To ensure businesses can continue to invest in their workforce, Ms Hyslop announced that the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, which helps employers upskill and reskill their existing workforce, will be increased from £10 million to £20 million for 2020/21.
Recognising the economic importance of digital capacity and capability, a further £1.5 million will be invested in Business Gateway’s Digital Boost programme – almost trebling the capacity of the initiative for the remainder of this financial year.
The programme supports small and medium-sized enterprises to take advantage of technology to help improve their productivity, increase their resilience and create new market opportunities.
Ms Hyslop said:
“We are focussed on taking immediate action to support our economy as we look to rebuild after COVID-19 and by investing in jobs and digital technology we will create the foundations of a strong recovery for Scotland.
“There is no denying the challenge that lies ahead, but the pandemic has also provided us with an opportunity to rebuild better. COVID-19 has underlined the economic importance of digital capacity and capability - the businesses that have coped best are those who have been digitally capable. By almost trebling funding for the Digital Boost programme for this financial year, more of Scotland’s SMEs will be able to improve their productivity and reach, while increasing their resilience.
“As I set out earlier this week in our response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report and the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board report, our focus is on protecting and creating skilled jobs. Opportunities for training are essential for both employers and employees, so we have doubled funding for our Flexible Workforce Development Fund to £20 million for 2020/21.”
Welcoming the additional funding for digital technology, COSLA spokesperson Cllr Steven Heddle said:
“During this pandemic Business Gateway’s Digital Boost programme has repositioned itself to help businesses adapt and survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Businesses are vital to Scotland’s local economies and digital upskilling is a key element for all now. The additional funds announced today will allow Business Gateway to add both more and broader digital support to what is already a fantastic service. It will allow us to help Scottish businesses upskill, survive, thrive and find new opportunities and markets.”
Through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund an initial £13 million will be available immediately through colleges who will continue to expand their current support for employers.
The Scottish Government will work with businesses and stakeholders to ensure the further £7 million of Flexible Workforce Development Funding builds on the success of this fund and expands the opportunities for business to engage.