Funded training programmes for your workforce

Find out about Modern Apprenticeships, graduate apprenticeships, and the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), and how your business can get involved.


6 min read

1. Overview

Having a highly trained workforce enables you to keep pace with changes in technology and working practices, giving your business a competitive edge. It also helps you secure the skills your business needs.

Vocational training can help increase your employees' knowledge and skills, which means they will be more capable, motivated and efficient. It can also help your business to provide clear career paths, enabling you to retain valued employees, and plug skills gaps in your existing workforce.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) delivers national training programmes and funding that can benefit employers:

  • Modern Apprenticeships
  • Graduate Apprenticeships
  • Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF)

Modern Apprenticeships are geared towards helping new or existing employees to gain industry-recognised accreditations, including SVQs and NVQs. They are for all-ages, but support from Government is usually focused to those aged 16-24, although can be over 25 in some sectors.

Graduate Apprenticeships offer funded degree-level training for your employees.

Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) can be used by businesses in Scotland to access flexible workforce development training opportunities to up-skill and re-skill employees.

This guide will explain how these schemes work and how your business can get involved.

2. Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships have been designed in partnership with employers to help fill skills gaps in your workplace. Skills Development Scotland's (SDS's) Modern Apprenticeships programme can boost your new or existing staff development efforts by providing a structure for the vocational training of employees.

Modern Apprenticeships are available to new and existing employees in a number of sectors, including:

  • engineering
  • management
  • health and social care
  • financial services
  • hospitality

Modern Apprenticeship frameworks are developed by the appropriate Sector Skills Council for that sector.

To participate, select from over 100 Modern Apprenticeships frameworks, then Find and connect with a training provider, who’ll deliver the training.

All trainees must be in employment to participate. The programme is free to the trainee, and SDS can provide funding towards training costs. You will still have to contribute towards the training costs - and cover the employee's usual wages - but in return for your investment you'll improve productivity, plug skills gaps, and potentially attract and retain better staff.

Employer Recruitment Incentives

Employers who help people with the greatest barriers to employment into jobs or apprenticeships may be able to access additional funding through their local authority, through Employer recruitment incentives - part of the The No-One Left Behind Employability Funding Stream.

Those offering Modern Apprenticeships to young people who may otherwise find it difficult to secure a job or Modern Apprenticeship, may receive additional funding towards newly created apprenticeships. Find more information about any employer recruitment incentives available to you by getting in touch with your local council.

For more information about Modern Apprenticeships, call the Employer Helpline on Tel 0800 783 6000.

3. Graduate Apprenticeships

Graduate Apprenticeships offer fully funded degree-level training for new and existing employees aged 16 or over. They enable apprentices to combine the benefits of gaining valuable experience in your workplace with achieving high level academic or industry accreditation. They have been designed to help businesses fill specialist skills-gaps, whilst equipping their employees with high level skills.

Learning costs are funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), and apprentices must apply to SAAS directly for funds. The full period of the qualification is covered by the funding. Whilst the funding of the training is covered by SAAS, you must pay the apprentice's full time salary. Apprentices will work for you 80% of the time, and then spend 20% of their time studying at the university or college.

Graduate Apprenticeships are available in key sectors that have the need for highly skilled jobs. To get involved, first select the apprenticeship framework that best serves your business requirements, next find a learning provider to work with and start planning your entry requirements and timeframes, then post your vacancy to help you recruit the best candidate for your needs.

For more information about Graduate Apprenticeships, call the Employer Helpline on Tel 0800 783 6000.

4. Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF)

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) has been developed to support Scottish businesses in up-skilling and re-skilling their employees. It can be particularly beneficial in filling skills gaps among the older workforce or those with protected characteristics.

The FWDF is available to both large UK Apprenticeship levy-paying organisations and SMEs in Scotland.

  • Levy-paying employers can gain funds up to £15,000
  • Non-levy paying SME’s can gain funds up to £5,000

Eligible employers can gain entry to the fund through local colleges, or the Open University once per academic year. See the Scottish Funding Council for more details on providers. If the training required cannot be offered via local colleges or the Open University, employers may be able to use the fund with private training providers through Skills Development Scotland, if referred by their local college. Contact your local college in the first instance to discuss your requirements.

For more information contact Skills Development Scotland or call them on 0800 783 6000.

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