Commenting on today’s announcement by the Scottish Government on the details of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, SRC Head of Policy, said:

“Six months after Scottish businesses started forking out for the Apprenticeship Levy, more than a few are likely to be underwhelmed at the final scheme which has emerged for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. In fairness, there are some good elements. We’ve been supportive of the principle of the Levy monies being used to promote skills outside the Apprenticeship framework, and giving that opportunity to Levy payers alone is sensible.

“However, the fact that the fund is now being described as a ‘pilot’ and also includes a £10,000 cap for each individual business is perplexing and concerning. Considering the Retail Industry in Scotland alone is paying £12 million through the Levy each and every year, that seems unduly restrictive; and significantly reduces the already severely limited return businesses are receiving. Overall a more ambitious deal is needed for businesses already being hit by a number of other public policy costs.

“Hopefully Ministers will reflect on this and pursue a more ambitious approach in early course, and with the revenues from the Levy forecast to rise over the next three years it’s to be hoped they will look to do more to help drive productivity and training for Scottish retailers.”

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The SRC position on the Apprenticeship Levy is laid out in more detail in our Budget Submission (https://brc.org.uk/news/2017/src-seeks-focus-on-economic-growth-in-scottish-government-s-budget ).  The key points are:
“Ensure levy-payers benefit directly from the mooted £10m Flexible Workforce Development Fund, increase the size of the Fund and tie its future funding growth to the projected overall increase in devolved receipts from the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Details of the Scottish Government Announcement can be found here: https://news.gov.scot/news/flexible-workforce-development-fund