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  • Writer's pictureGemma Walton

AI Upskilling for UK Businesses: How UK SMEs Can Thrive with Government-Backed Training Programs

Updated: Jun 21

In an era where digital transformation dictates market dynamics, it’s imperative for businesses to enhance their Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities and this cannot be stated enough as there is leveraging-ai-upskilling-uk-smes-can-thrive-with-government-backed-training-programshuge skills gap in this area according to some recent government studies including;  UK Government Report – Quantifying The UK Data Skills Gap & How The UK Must Make Commitments To Digital Literacy & Invest In Digital Skills.

For UK firms, particularly in the Professional Business Services (PBS) sector, a golden opportunity has emerged. The UK Government has introduced an innovative scheme that offers substantial support for AI skills training, potentially transforming the landscape of business technology in the region.

A bustling training session with UK business professionals engaging in an AI upskilling workshop facilitated by government support

The Urgency of AI Upskilling in the UK & The Growing Demand for AI Proficiency:

Across the globe, AI is reshaping industries, prompting businesses to adapt swiftly to harness its potential. In the UK, the need for comprehensive AI skills among teams is more than a trend—it's become a critical component of competitive strategy. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that might not have the same resources as larger corporations to invest in extensive training programs.

Benefits of AI Skills Enhancement:

By upskilling employees, businesses can improve efficiency, foster innovation, and maintain a competitive edge. Employees proficient in AI can help streamline operations, make data-driven decisions, and implement solutions that catalyse growth and innovation.

Government Support Through the AI Upskilling Fund - Overview of the AI Upskilling Fund Pilot Scheme:

Recognising the pivotal role of AI in economic growth and productivity, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has earmarked £7.4 million for a pilot scheme aimed at subsidizing AI training costs for SMEs. Out of this, £6.4 million is dedicated to grant funding, covering up to 50% of training expenses. This initiative not only underscores the government’s commitment to technological advancement but also ensures that more businesses can afford to embrace AI technologies.

Eligibility and Funding Details:

Eligibility for this funding is designed to be inclusive yet targeted:

- The business must be registered and operate within the UK.

- It should have between 1-249 UK-based employees.

- The company must qualify as an SME as per the SME Action Plan.

- The business should have been operational for at least one year.

- It must commit to matching 50% of the training cost.

- Eligibility extends to those in the PBS sector, defined by specific Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes.

Application Process for AI Training Funding & Steps to Express Interest:

Interested businesses are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest through the 'Find A Grant' platform before 23rd April 2024.

This initial step is crucial for gauging interest and assembling resources necessary for the training.

Enhancing Business Productivity Through AI Training & the Impact of AI Upskilling on SMEs:

The flexible AI upskilling fund pilot aims to boost AI adoption and productivity by encouraging greater employer-led investment in skills and training. The lack of AI skills is a significant barrier to AI adoption, particularly in smaller businesses where investment in upskilling has traditionally been lower.

For UK SMEs in the Professional Business Services sector, the government's AI upskilling initiative represents a transformative opportunity. By reducing the financial burden of training, the scheme not only makes AI adoption more accessible but also empowers businesses to future-proof their operations and thrive in an increasingly digital economy.

Training session with UK business professionals engaging in an AI upskilling workshop facilitated by government support



What is the purpose of the AI upskilling fund pilot scheme?

The scheme is designed to subsidize the cost of AI skills training for SMEs, enhancing their capabilities and competitiveness in the market.

How much funding is available through the scheme?

A total of £6.4 million in grant funding is available, covering up to 50% of the AI training costs for eligible businesses.

Who is eligible for the AI training subsidy?

Businesses registered in the UK, employing between 1-249 people, and operating in the Professional Business Services sector are eligible to apply.

How can businesses apply for the AI training subsidy?

Eligible businesses should submit an Expression of Interest via the Find A Grant platform to initiate the application process.

What are the benefits of AI upskilling for SMEs?

AI upskilling can lead to enhanced efficiency, innovation, and competitive advantage, enabling SMEs to better utilise AI technologies in their operations.


Check out these AI Online Courses now:


Remember, the digital revolution is happening now, and those who embrace AI & other innovative courses will lead the way.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to upskill and secure a brighter future for your business and career.


Take the first step today by enrolling in one of these BCS Accredited Online Courses, and let's shape the future together.

If you’re looking for help or support for a marketing project to help your business grow by improving your online presence, please check out the Digital Marketing Services I Provide.

Not sure or want to have a chat about this in more detail then please Contact Me directly.

You can also check out my podcast "Like Click Share" for digital and marketing tips and advice or head to the channel page on You Tube.


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