Many people know colleges as a place to study and learn for upskilling, retraining and starting their careers, but what they also do is support local businesses and organisations to grow and thrive in their industry.

Elise Bonini, Training and Employment Advisor at South Lanarkshire College, explains that supporting local businesses is a large part of the offering at the college. The college is encouraging more businesses to get in touch to explore funds and opportunities available to upskill employees and grow their company, as we ease out of the pandemic.

One such fund is The Flexible Workforce Development Fund which was made available by the Scottish Government through Scottish Funding Council to provide access to training opportunities for business recovery. This funding allows for companies to access up to £15,000 worth of training and the college is currently engaged with 40 local employers on the scheme.

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There is also funding for businesses through the Adopt an Apprentice scheme, to support companies who take on an apprentice affected by redundancy, and Pathway Apprenticeships are available for school leavers not in a job or education to gain work-based learning and qualifications in sectors with skills needs.

Or, if local organisations are looking to take on more staff or upskill existing staff, whilst supporting local young people, the Modern Apprenticeship and Foundation Apprenticeship (for senior phase school pupils) frameworks allow organisations to get part funded employees that will undertake training on the job, whilst being assessed and taught by a member of staff at the college.

Apprenticeships can help adapt, sustain and strengthen businesses. They are designed by industry for industry to help businesses attract and retain staff by offering high quality work-based training routes to skilled jobs.

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There are many benefits including the chance to upskill their existing workforce, increase productivity and also improve service and product quality. Apprentices play a vital role in supporting businesses and the economy now and for the future. Apprenticeships are funded by SDS (Skills Development Scotland) and they cover the cost of training, registrations with awarding body and skills councils, registration of any additional testing or training required.

Day release courses are also available at the college, where companies can allow their employees out of work one or two days a week to undertake training or qualifications, which will allow employees to bring back new skills and learning, benefitting the organisation and employees personal development.

Elise explains “Working with local businesses is one of our key priorities at South Lanarkshire College. As we recover from the pandemic it is important that as an anchor institution in South Lanarkshire, we support local businesses to upskill employees, create a pipeline for hiring trained and skilled staff and provide businesses with the support they need to thrive.

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Local businesses, alongside colleges, are at the heart of communities all across Scotland and it’s important that we foster strong relationships to benefit the organisations, individuals and the region.”

Elise goes on to comment “It’s been heartening to hear local employers' commitment looking to colleges to investing in upskilling their workforce. We have so many opportunities in the college to support your business and employees.

Commitment to invest in young people and in modern apprenticeships has been remarkable. A lot of our partner employers have signed up to the Apprenticeship Recruitment Grant, which supports young people in the region gain training and employment whilst supporting businesses.

I would encourage any business to get in touch with us to discuss options and funding available to support your employees and organisation. We are here to help.”

To find out more and to speak to a member of staff at the college visit: www.slc.ac.uk or contact Elise by emailing elise.bonini@slc.ac.uk

This article appears as part of The Herald's The Future Of Education campaign, in association with South Lanarkshire College.