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SCC Network: Update on the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF)

In December 2023, the Flexible Workforce Development Fund was scrapped as part of funding cuts at the Scottish Budget.

Feedback from firms continues to indicate that challenges accessing labour and skills remains high, which is impacting and stifling growth.

Which is why SCC has expressed our concern at the removal of the FWDF and made calls alongside other organisations for the government to reinstate the fund.

 

In February 2024, SCC co-signed an open letter to the Scottish Government with Colleges Scotland and others calling for the fund to be reinstated.

 

Unfortunately, the Fund was not reinstated in the Scottish Government Budget for 2024/25 which passed Stage 3 in the Scottish Parliament on Monday 4th March.

 

The issue of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund was raised in the Chamber last week, and Graeme Dey, Minister for Higher and Further Education, answered a question on the Fund: LINK

The Minister has also asked in the attached response to the open letter that the Scottish Government’s position on FWDF is conveyed to all relevant stakeholders, that position is as follows:

“I want to assure you that both the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth, and I tried to preserve the FWDF offer, recognising the value and the positive impact it has had on individuals, the colleges sector and employers across Scotland. However, in the face of the current, unprecedented financial challenges facing government, this was unfortunately not possible. This is the most challenging budget to be delivered under devolution and Ministers have had to make extremely hard decisions to ensure Scotland’s public finances remain on a sustainable trajectory. As the Scottish Government continues to face extremely challenging budget pressures, any further discussions on a potential reinstatement of the Fund or other approaches for strengthened employer engagement would need to be based on viable options for funding.”

 

SCC will continue to discuss the future of skills training with the Scottish Government and seek ways that this fund can be replaced in a way that supports colleges and employers to address skills challenges across Scotland.

If you have any comments or feedback, then do feel free to share these with us.

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