Focus North Conference 2024: FutureSkills Initiative to Enhance Apprenticeship Opportunities in North Highland Region. Published on 26th March 2024

FutureSkills on the agenda at Focus North Conference, with the announcement of £100,000 investment to boost new apprenticeship opportunities in the North Highlands.

The Focus North Conference 2024 heralded a significant stride towards bolstering apprenticeship opportunities in the North Highland region with the introduction of the FutureSkills Initiative, generously supported by a £100,000 investment from Focus North partners NRS Dounreay and the NDA. This initiative aims to tackle skill shortages and invigorate investment in new avenues for both businesses and young people through an enhanced apprenticeship grant scheme.

Part of the Caithness Business Fund, the FutureSkills initiative will offer eligible businesses the opportunity to access financial grant support of up to £24,500 over a maximum period of three years, aiding in employment and associated training costs of an apprentice.

The scheme will be open to businesses that can demonstrate a strong commitment to hosting a modern apprenticeship and providing a supportive pathway. Primarily targeted at SMEs, it seeks to stimulate business growth by facilitating new apprenticeship opportunities and overcoming potential financial hurdles.

During the conference, over 160 individuals came together to learn about the programme's three key pillars: inspire our people, preparing our region, and grow our economy, showcasing a positive outlook for the North Highland region.

Trudy Morris, Executive Director of the Caithness Business Fund and CEO of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“The Focus North Conference highlighted that our region is at the cusp of transformative opportunities, marking the beginning of an exciting new era of employment generation.”

“Expanding the pool of skilled people in the North Highland region stands as Focus North’s number one priority. One of the ways we are driving this forward is through the FutureSkills Initiative which will support local businesses to create new apprenticeship opportunities for our young people.”

“Through an uptick in apprenticeship applications to the Fund, we have seen a growing desire among local businesses to establish and further develop their workforce. Alongside this research through our Developing the Young Workforce programme revealed many young people have a future aspiration to pursue this pathway. This cannot be understated when it comes to building resilience into our local economy and communities.”

“We are delighted to have the backing of Focus North partners NRS Dounreay and the NDA on this initiative, recognising the critical importance of enabling new apprenticeship opportunities.”

To find out more about the Caithness Business Fund and the FutureSkills apprenticeship grant scheme contact the Fund team on : Tel: 01847 500104 | Email:

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Caithness Business Fund
Naver Business Centre, Naver House, Naver Road, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7QA

Registered in Scotland: SC450693

T: 01847 500104

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