Help for individuals and businesses in the Outer Hebrides

SKILLS Development Scotland has a range of services and support for individuals and businesses provided by its Outer Hebrides team based in offices in Stornoway and ar Taigh Cheann a Locha in Lionacleit, Benbecula.

These include ScotAction, the Employer’s Recruitment Initiative, Flexible Training Opportunities and help for apprentices.

Seonag Campbell, Team Leader, explained: “ScotAction is the Scottish Government’s skills support package delivered by Skills Development Scotland.

“It is an integrated package which combines new and improved measures to help individuals and businesses through the recession. It helps provide skills assistance – including wage subsidies in some circumstances – for training for work, training in work and training from work to work to help local people and businesses survive the downturn and thrive as the economy starts to recover.” Ms Campbell also detailed that support for businesses is also available through the Employer’s Recruitment Initiative which offers employers £1,000 towards recruiting a young person (aged 16-19) who has faced barriers in the past, or who had completed one of Skills Development Scotland’s employability programmes.

£1,000 is also available to employers who offer any young person (aged 16-19) a new Modern Apprenticeship in the following sectors: Construction and related; Hospitality and Tourism; Engineering and Automotive.

Employers can also access workforce development grants of up to £500 per employee through the Flexible Training Opportunities programme, as Ms Campbell continued: “These grants are available for private sector organisations with 75 or fewer employees, as long as they are based in Scotland.

“A maximum of 10 employees can be supported in any one organisation, and the grant will cover 50% of the costs of training, with the remainder to be covered by the employer.

“The deadline for applications has been extended until early March 2011,” she added.

More information and application packs on the number of ways in which Skills Development Scotland can help can be found on the organisation’s website at or by calling the Stornoway Office, at 30 Francis Street, on 01851 707334/335.

The website also has full details on the Adopt and Apprentice scheme which helps apprentices fund alternative employment to help them complete their training.

The scheme gives employers a £2,000 lump sum payment to help with wage costs of taking on a redundant apprentice for at least 12 months.

Employers can also help Safeguard an Apprentice – a scheme which offers employers £75 per week wage substitutes to retain their current Modern Apprentices where the company is experiencing difficulties as a result of the economic downturn.

This scheme is open to companies in the manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors. For more information on either of these initiatives, call 0808 100 8095.