Businesses in Scotland that contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy can now apply for a workforce development grant of up to GBP 10,000, which the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) says could open up opportunities for seafarers.
The Scottish Government this month launched the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), which aims to help pay for employee training to up-skill and re-skill companies' existing workforces through one of Scotland's further education colleges.
Companies are eligible to apply for the funding if they are an Apprenticeship Levy-paying employer (i.e. have an annual salary bill of over GBP 3 million) and have a workforce in Scotland. The fund is available in addition to Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) and apprenticeship support, which all employers are eligible to access in Scotland.
“The Flexible Workforce Development Fund is part of Programme for Government, and an important element of our skills offer in Scotland. It is part of our wider offer of training and support that provides a clear and distinctive response to the introduction of the UK Apprenticeship Levy,” said Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Minister for Employability and Skills, who launched the fund at a visit to ScotRail.
The Scottish Government is encouraging employers to give due consideration to specific groups such as older workers; those in low skilled jobs; those working regularly with younger workers/apprentices; veterans/early service leavers and those who identify as belonging to equality groups.
Kathryn Neilson, director of MNTB, says her organisation is in favour of the new FWDF scheme and hopes it will enhance career opportunities for seafarers.
"The MNTB is fully supportive of the grant the Scottish Government is offering to companies in Scotland who have enrolled in the Apprenticeship Levy," she says.
"We are constantly looking at ways of attracting people into the industry and by offering this type of grant funding to workers who wish to retrain, we are opening up the possibilities of a career in the Merchant Navy,” she continues.