Government ministers have agreed to plough an additional £10m into a nationwide skills fund – to prepare workers for ’emerging challenges’ including Brexit, the rapid advance of technology and the climate emergency.

Investment into the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) – managed by Skills Development Scotland – will raise to £20m this year in order to ensure Scotland has a skilled and productive workforce ‘resilient to future economic challenges’.

The measures were announced on Tuesday as part of the government’s Future Skills Action Plan, which seeks to address the changing nature of work and the labour force, including increased digitalisation and automation in the economy.

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.

The plan highlights action to increase upskilling and retraining opportunities.

Key actions include:

-Addressing skills gaps and shortages as a central part of the Scottish Government’s response to the UK’s departure from the European Union;
-Publishing a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to provide the framework for the skills investment needed to meet the global climate change challenge;
-As part of the £1.3 billion funding made available to City and Growth Deals, building on work to develop and deliver skills investment plans in each region.

Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Scotland’s highly skilled workforce ensures we are an ambitious, productive and competitive nation.

“While we already have a strong skills system in place, further change is needed to enable us to move forward confidently. This includes considering what skills provision is required and how we ensure the system is both agile and sustainable.

“The Future Skills Action Plan clearly signals our intention to invest more in the skills of those already in work, while promoting a culture of shared investment with employers in Scotland’s future workforce. This is especially important for the major challenges we are facing as a nation such as EU exit and the climate emergency.

“However, meeting Scotland’s skills challenges cannot be met by government alone, and will require collective action from across society. Today is an important step in making this happen.”

The Future Skills Action Plan accepts and endorses the recommendations made by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board in its 2018 Strategic Plan and outlines the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland’s skills system.

The £10 million of additional funding for workforce development builds on our £10 million per annum investment in the Flexible Workforce Development fund.