Data, Analytics & AI

The UK AI Upskilling Fund pilot: A guide to eligibility, reimbursement, and suggested courses for SMEs

We look at the UK government's Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot: who is eligible, what AI training is covered, and suggest QA AI courses for SMEs.

Updated to reflect the extended application deadline of 18 August, 2024.

There’s good news for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Professional Business Services (PBS) sector. The UK government's Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot offers businesses up to £10,000 in reimbursement to upskill or reskill their staff on AI. A total of £6.4 million of grant funding is available – for businesses who apply by 18 August, 2024. 

Keep reading to gain insight into who is eligible, what AI learning activities are reimbursable, and suggested AI upskilling courses for SMEs. 

Who is eligible for the AI Upskilling grant money?

There are 3 main criteria for UK businesses: 1. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC code), 2. Business Size, and 3. Application timelines.

  1. Eligible SIC codes. The Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot is limited to the Professional Business Services sector in the UK. Businesses must fall under the M and N SIC codes listed here, and be in operation for at least 1 year. 
  2. Business Size. Companies with under 250 headcount and under €50 million turnover are eligible for up to £10,000 of grant funding, which covers up to 50% of the costs of the AI training. Note that small businesses (under 50 headcount and under 10 headcount) are eligible for small grants, with full details available on the government website. 
  3. Application timelines. Applications must be received by 18 August, 2024. Award letters will be issued in September 2024. Training must be procured between October 2024-Feb 2025, with all requests for payment submitted and all training completed by 31 March 2025. 

What training activities are reimbursable?

This flexible fund allows approved applicants to receive reimbursements for a wide range of AI-related training expenses.

From course fees and materials to certification costs, the fund aims to alleviate the financial burden associated with upskilling in AI. QA offers an excellent array of AI courses for small businesses – many of which come with certification vouchers included.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, we would suggest the following to maximise your Flexible AI Upskilling fund of up to £10,000 (or 50% of your spend): 

If you're implementing (or looking to implement) one or more AI solutions within your company:

For leaders:

AI Business Essentials for Leaders (QAAIBE)

Dive into AI basics, strategy formulation, fostering a culture of AI readiness, and ensuring responsible AI practices. Ideal for C-Suite, senior managers, and change practitioners. No prerequisites required.

For general audiences or to certify staff:

BCS Essential Certificate in Artificial Intelligence (AI) (QAAIBCSE)

Discover the essentials of AI with an included BCS certification exam. Learn AI fundamentals, machine learning processes, and future AI trends. Perfect for tech enthusiasts and professionals across various industries.

If you want your team to know more about generative AI (GenAI) and AI Chat tools (like Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT) and to address AI fears

For MS Office business users:

Introduction to Copilot for Microsoft 365 for business users (QA365COPBU)

Harness Microsoft Copilot's potential in Microsoft 365. Discover its AI-powered features, from content creation to collaboration. Beginner-friendly with no prior AI expertise required.

For MS Office IT professionals:

Copilot for Microsoft 365 technical overview for IT professionals (QAM365COP)

Boost productivity in Microsoft 365 with this Microsoft-recommended training. Dive into AI-powered productivity tools, architecture insights, and IT deployment readiness. For IT teams to transform your organisation's efficiency.

For Power Apps users:

Mastering Power Platform CoPilot Essentials (QAPMCO)

Empower your Power Platform journey with Copilot. Learn to optimise app and flow creation. Hands-on sessions ensure proficient use of AI capabilities.

For Developers:

AI Assisted Secure Software Development (QASCAAIDEV)

Stay ahead in the AI era with our comprehensive course for software developers. Learn AI basics, boost productivity, and prepare for the future of software development.

If you're looking for AI Security and Governance training

Certified AI Governance Professional (AIGP) (QACAIGP)

Equip yourself with AI governance skills. Learn to develop, integrate, and deploy trustworthy AI systems responsibly. Gain insights into emerging laws and strategies.

Technical training to implement AI solutions that use AI services provided externally such as Azure or AWS


Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution (AI-102) (MAI102)

Master Azure AI solutions! Design and implement AI applications with Azure Cognitive Services, Cognitive Search, and Bot Framework.


Developing Generative AI Applications on AWS (AMWSGAIA)

Tap into the power of generative AI and Large Language Models (LLM). Learn foundations, project planning, and practical applications with Amazon Bedrock and LangChain.

The above is just a sampling of our AI content – which includes dozens of instructor-led courses and over 100+ self-paced courses and labs. Our team has over 35+ years of expertise working with SME customers. To receive a custom recommendation for your business, get in touch.

Next steps

As we venture into an AI-driven future, we believe it’s important to take advantage of government grants. The Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot opens doors for organisations to learn artificial intelligence. QA’s courses are purpose-built exactly for the needs of companies to not just learn, but also apply back that knowledge of AI. Take the next step today by applying for the grant (our UKPRN number is 10003375)  knowing we will help you maximise your AI learning investment.