Flexible Workforce Development Fund


As many will have recently (and painfully) discovered, you don’t need to be a particularly large organisation to fall within the scope of paying the Apprenticeship Levy. Any organisation (be it public, private or 3rd sector) with an annual salary bill exceeding £3m is required to pay 0.5% of that salary bill to the Levy. According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), average gross annual earnings for full-time employees was £27,600 in 2015 so about 109 employees (excluding employer’s NI) will get you to the Levy threshold, adding around £12,500 every month to your wage bill.
Ouch. If you were wondering why your Finance Director has been in such in a bad mood since April, then wonder no more.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, many organisations are asking “So what do we get in return?”
Well – if you’re not investing in your workforce then precious little actually, since the whole point of the Levy is to encourage organisations to do just that.
In Scotland, the way in which the Levy operates is different from other parts of the country. One such difference which can return some tangible value from the Apprenticeship Levy is the £10m “Flexible Workforce Development Fund” or the FWDF.
Myth busting…
The FWDF fund is not for apprentices, apprenticeships or anything apprentice related. Those arrangements continue as before through Skills Development Scotland. The only connection is that only those companies which have paid the “Apprenticeship Levy” are entitled to tap into the FWDF. This is separate money to train and up skill all employees.
Now that that common misconception is dealt with, let’s look at some other FWDF facts
•         The FWDF is administered through the Scottish Funding Council and can only be drawn down through Scotland’s regional Colleges and Scotland’s Rural College.
•         The total fund is limited to £10m across Scotland
•         Each levy paying employer can apply for up to a maximum of £10,000 in 2017/18
•         You can only make one application to the fund per year through one College provider. (Hint, ensure you’re using up all of your allowance – no change given!)
•         The fund is NOT available for training required by law.
•         The fund is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
•         All training must be completed by 30th June 2018.
•         Applications to the fund for 2017/18 will close on 15th December 2017. The clock is ticking.
So how do you apply?
1. Look at your training needs analysis or otherwise think about your training needs. If you don’t have an analysis, the College can help.
2. Contact West College Scotland on 0800 052 9612.
3. Work with the College to flesh out your training needs.
4. Fill in the application form and submit via the College.
For levy paying organisations in the our region, West College Scotland is here to support your application – so call our friendly business liaison team on 0800 052 9612 to arrange an initial discussion on how we can help you apply to the fund and recover some value from the Apprenticeship Levy you’ve paid.