Media release: March deadline approaches for SME training subsidies

WHEN money is tight, training is a sacrifice that small-medium sized companies (SMEs) are sometimes tempted to make.

But this needn’t be the case, thanks to the Flexible Training Opportunities Fund, which is operated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) with support from the European Social Fund.

Says a spokesperson: “The fund aims to help Scottish organisations of up to 150 employees become more resilient and successful and covers 50 per cent of training costs up to a maximum of £5,000.

“The fund can be used for such things as attaining industry recognised qualifications, workshops, masterclasses and management training. It may not, however, be used for statutory training such as health and safety.

“Up to ten employees can be included in the training. For example, a business can opt to put ten employees on a course at £500 per participant, or alternatively, put one employee through ten courses, or a number of variations in between.

“To ensure maximum benefit from the fund, the initiative allows businesses to design training programmes that are best suited to their needs.”

Damien Yeates, chief executive of Skills Development Scotland, said:

“Skills Development Scotland is committed to equipping people with the necessary training and skills to help ensure they can fulfil their potential.

“The Flexible Training Opportunities Fund will help to improve productivity and create a stronger more confident workforce, ensuring that businesses are better equipped to overcome the economic downturn.”

Applications to the fund must be made by no later than March 31 2011 using the Flexible Training Opportunities Fund application form available from

Or call 0800 783 6000 for further details.

The application process is very straightforward and a decision is usually made within five working days.

IDS is a multi-disciplinary engineering company with premises in Glasgow, Falkirk and Inverness and 30 full-time employees.

The company is now able to work on National Grid projects after ten of its staff were trained in National Grid specifications and standards with assistance from the Flexible Training Opportunities Fund.

IDS systems manager, George Welsh, said: “Having people trained in National Grid requirements has opened up potential new income streams for the business.

“It will help secure current business and we anticipate that new work in this area will increase demand for our services, potentially resulting in up to 20 new employees within the next year.”

He added: “Our business focuses heavily on software and telecommunications and is therefore a rapidly changing environment in which we need to keep up-to-date.

“The National Grid training was conveniently undertaken at our own training academy which allowed us to take a trainer in, rather than send ten employees away to be trained.”

HI-Arts is an arts and cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, employing 20 people from across the region.

Three employees from the charitable organisation have gained a better understanding of basic book-keeping and advanced accounting software systems thanks to training part-funded by the Flexible Training Opportunities Fund.

According to Karen Ray, who is responsible for finance at HI-Arts, the training has the potential to improve efficiency as their systems become more automated, promising access to high-quality management information. It will also allow the company to consider rolling out book-keeping services to other arts groups in the region.

She says : “HI-Arts is investigating ways of becoming more commercially-focused as it seeks to become less reliant on public sector funding.

“This will help generate extra income for us, save arts groups’ money and therefore contribute to an even more vibrant arts scene in the area.

“The training was conveniently delivered both locally and online which helped minimise down-time for those involved. Applying for assistance to SDS was convenient, straightforward and we received a decision within days. We couldn’t have undertaken the training if we had not received this funding.”

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Contact: Skills Development Scotland press team