As business moves into the recovery period it is more important than ever to ensure that our workforce is skilled, and that young people have the support they need to join the workforce at this challenging time.

Initial research suggests that to emerge successfully from this crisis, and to combat the impact it has had on the way we work, interact and sell, business will have to nurture digital, cognitive, social and emotional, and adaptability and resilience skill sets.

LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report revealed that 99% of learning and development executives believe if skill gaps are not closed in the next 3 to 5 years, customer experience and satisfaction will be affected. As well as this, product development and delivery, and the company’s ability to innovate will all suffer.

There are several skills development initiatives, and various funding opportunities, now available to allow businesses to do exactly this.

Support Skills & People Development

Everyone aged between 16 and 24 will have the opportunity to work, education or training through the Young Person’s Guarantee.

To support young talent and build your future workforce you can engage with the Young Person’s Guarantee by supporting the five asks of employers:

Prepare young people for the world of work

  • Inspiring pupils and college students to gain the skills needed for the world of work.

Help all young people to achieve their potential

  • Engaging with and opening opportunities to young people who face barriers to work.

Invest in a skilled workforce

  • Creating work based learning, training and upskilling opportunities for young people.

Create jobs and apprenticeships

  • Creating jobs and apprenticeships to support the Guarantee.

Create an inclusive and fair workplace

Ensuring a working environment which supports all young people and provides fair work.

For more information, please visit the My World of Work website.

There are resources to help you:

  • Engage with education
  • Advertise a job
  • Advertise an apprenticeship
  • Find Business Support
  • Access the Kickstart Scheme

Provides employers in Scotland who are UK Apprenticeship Levy-payers with flexible workforce development training opportunities within the high-quality learning environments available in Scotland’s colleges. It is also open to SMEs across the private, public and third sectors.

Eligible employers can use the FWDF to address priority skills gaps in their organisation by accessing up to £15,000 in funding to create tailored training programmes with their local college.

SMEs will be able to access up to £5,000 of college and Open University training.

The fund is flexible and allows employers to choose the training that will bring the greatest benefits to their organisation, while motivating and engaging their employees. The fund can be used to completely cover training or to partially cover training at a higher cost.

The FWDF is available to all UK Apprenticeship Levy-paying employers in Scotland across the private, public and third sector. It is also now open to SMEs (November 2020). If you are an employer with a wage bill of over £3 million, then you may be eligible to apply for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund to meet your skills gaps.

Employers must provide evidence of their Levy-paying status as part of their FWDF application.

The FWDF does not support provision of industry qualifications/ training where there is a statutory employer obligation as required by law.

Applications are now open – please contact your nearest college to register your interest and discuss your training needs.

For Levy-paying employers who are interested in using private training provision administered through SDS, you need to fill out an enquiry form.

For all other FWDF enquiries, including SME applications and how to apply, please visit the Scottish Funding Council website

Colleges should work with UK Apprenticeship Levy-paying employers in their region to identify the training they require that will help make a demonstrable return on investment. The analysis should form the basis of the employer’s application, and colleges should work with employers to support the application process.

Employers operating on a Scotland-wide basis or across more than one college region may only submit one FWDF application to the college of their choice. On their application, employers are required to formally declare that their application is on behalf of the whole company and is their sole FWDF application.

The fund is in addition to apprenticeship support, which is available to all employers in Scotland, and Individual Training Accounts (ITAs), which provide eligible individuals with the opportunity to undertake learning opportunities to develop their skills for employment.

The FWDF may be particularly beneficial in addressing skills gaps and training needs of the older workforce and those with protected characteristics.

The Kickstart scheme is a £2 billion fund launched by the UK government to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.

The job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs. They must not replace existing or planned vacancies and cannot cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose or reduce their working hours.

You’ll get £1,500 funding per job placement. This is for setup costs and to support the young person develop their employability skills. If someone else helps you to do some of this for you, such as your Kickstart gateway, you’ll have to agree how you will share this money.

The job placements must be a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months and pay at least the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage for the employee’s age group. They should require basic training only.

For each job placement you must help the young person become more employable. This could include:

  • Looking for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
  • Support with curriculum vitae (CV) and interview preparations
  • Developing their skills in the workplace
  • The young person may be able to move to another employment scheme when they’ve finished their 6-month Kickstart Scheme job placement.

A Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If a single employer cannot provide this many job placements, they can apply through and existing Kickstart gateway, which in the Perth & Kinross Local Authority area is Perthshire Chamber of Commerce.

To find out more about working with Perthshire Chamber of Commerce on this, please email

Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • Associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.
  • Further funding is available for training and support so that young people on the scheme can get a job in the future.

Detailed guidance around the Kickstart Scheme can be accessed via the UK Government website.