The number of learning and skills development agencies in Scotland is creating an unworkable funding maze, meaning many of the country’s SMEs are missing out on crucial finance for training that could help them through the recession.

Although Scottish firms are increasingly turning to training to come out the recession stronger than before, business managers are more confused than ever about what support is available to them. And this is despite the Scottish Government creating the umbrella body – Skills Development Scotland – whose aim is to ‘help employers be more successful through skills development’.

We’ve seen a 55% increase in the number of training courses being booked since the beginning of the downturn, but the majority of firms are unaware that they could secure financial help to pay for training. This means many businesses may be missing out extra staff training due to restricted cashflow and aren’t performing at the level they could be.

Firms have been battening down the hatches instead of improving their business skills for when the upturn comes. Those who are investing in training will be the ones who thrive and outperform their competitors when the time comes.

I would urge Scottish firms to take advantage of the funding for training that is available to them before the money runs out like what is set to happen in England.

The British Chambers of Commerce recently announced businesses south of the border will suffer a massive shortage in the amount of funding for training and staff development available to them in 2009/10.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which was set up to make England ‘better skilled and more competitive’, has caused a cash crisis by encouraging training providers to heavily recruit employers. They have since said that they are unable to cope with the demand for funding that this has created – meaning that training providers are having to turn away prospective clients.

While England is facing a funding crisis, Scottish businesses are in the advantageous position of having access to funding and support for learning and development. It is important that all businesses are able to get the most out of their employees at this difficult time so I would urge businesses to prepare for the upturn now. Explore your funding options and find a way to continue to invest in your staff.