Business leaders warns SNP ministers against 'sacrificing' investment in skills
Ministers have been warned that investment in skills must not be “sacrificed” amid the ongoing public spending squeeze.
Liz Cameron CBE, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, urged the Scottish Government to think twice before cutting funding for training.
Colin Borland, director of devolved nations at the Federation of Small Businesses, also warned of the “long term consequences” of losing investment.
They made the remarks as The Scotsman reported growing concern about the future of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF).
The scheme invests £10 million a year to address skills gaps, enabling firms which pay the Apprenticeship Levy, and small and medium-sized businesses, to support training for thousands of staff.
Dr Cameron said: “Colleges will be concerned that funding decisions on the Flexible Workforce Development Fund are still unclear.
“We appreciate the government has difficult decisions to make due to budget constraints, but we urge that investment in skills is not sacrificed.
“Feedback from firms indicates that challenges accessing labour and skills remains high, which is impacting and stifling growth."With Scotland’s well-documented demographic challenges, this is an area that we cannot afford to lapse upon.”
Mr Borland said: “The Flexible Workforce Development Fund has proven an invaluable resource over the last several years, giving smaller operators the resources and support to develop and upskill their workforces and provide employment opportunities in their local areas.
"It is essential that as this year’s Budget is drawn up ministers consider the long term consequences of losing such vital programmes as the FWDF beyond the short term savings they can make back this year.”
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