Minister Dodds extends free access to SME skills programme until March 2022

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced that a skills development support scheme will remain free for businesses until the end of March 2022.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds
Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Skills Focus is a post-employment training programme that is open to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including social enterprises, with fewer than 250 employees. Last May the Minister announced that the usual 25% cost to businesses would be waived until March 31 2021. She has now extended that waiver for a further 12 months to further support businesses through the pandemic.

Minister Dodds said: “Skills Focus enables businesses to upskill and reskill staff, including those on furlough, by accessing tailored teaching from the further education colleges. Since May last year SMEs, including social enterprises, have been able to access this support at no cost to themselves. More than 1,000 businesses and 1,800 staff members have done so – and I am pleased to be able to extend this measure through to the end of March next year.

“Courses are available in accredited and industry-standard qualifications at level 2 and above.

“Training can be delivered online and covers a range of areas, including customer service, health and social care, leadership and tourism. I would encourage them to engage with their local college to see what courses are available that might be relevant to them.”

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