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Government extends deadline for AI skills grants

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 04 Jun 2024

Accountancy firms now have until 18 August to apply for grants under the pilot of the government’s new AI Upskilling Fund, after the government extended the deadline by 11 weeks.

The Flexible AI Upskilling Fund offers £6.4m of government support to help staff at small and medium-sized UK businesses boost their artificial intelligence (AI) skills. Under the pilot scheme SMEs have until the end of May to apply online for a grant to cover up to 50% of the cost of their employees’ AI training. 

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which operates the fund, has confirmed that a number of courses provided by ICAEW would meet the definition of AI training. Alongside ICAEW’s Data Analytics certificate, several ICAEW Academy courses will qualify for support, including:

  • An introduction to statistical data analytics 
  • Data preparation and ethics
  • Future of finance – are you ready?
  • Introduction to Python 
  • Introduction to R
  • Innovating Finance with AI – a guide to digital technologies and their impact
  • The art and science of data visualisation 
  • Power Query: streamline automation
  • Month-end in Power BI 
  • Copilot & ChatGPT 

ICAEW’s Senior Policy Manager, Chris Lane, urged members interested in using the scheme to act quickly. “This fund could help many accountants and their clients to get to grips with new technologies, but with the deadline for applications just weeks away time is of the essence,” he said. 

ICAEW’s Academy courses can be run in-house or hosted virtually, and comprise six hours of training from experts on a broad range of topics. 

Louise Hazeldine, ICAEW’s Acting Head of Academy, urged those interested in AI training to get in touch with her team. “We have a wide range of courses available to equip finance professionals with the digital and AI skills that will be so crucial to future growth and competitiveness,” she said. “If eligible businesses are interested in these courses this is a great opportunity to apply for match-funding.”

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To find out more information about ICAEW Academy training options, please contact our team.

Who can apply for a grant?

To be eligible for the scheme, DSIT requires companies to:

Companies must also have an operating track record of at least one year and be able to match-fund 50% of the training costs. 

Funding limits

Grants available under the scheme are limited according to the size of the organisation applying. Micro businesses, those with fewer than 10 staff can apply for up to £2,500 while companies with up to 250 staff can apply for up to £10,000. See table below for full details.

Business size



Balance Sheet total

Maximum grant funding available (per applicant)


Under 10 Under €2m Under €2m £2,500


Under 50 Under €10m Under €10m £5,000
Medium Under 250 Under €50m Under €43m £10,000

How to apply for a grant

Under the pilot scheme, companies have until 5pm on 31 May to complete their online application using the government’s Find a Grant service. For those wanting more information about applying, DSIT has recorded a webinar on the pilot scheme, which is available on YouTube.

What information will you need?

Firms will need to provide details on the number of employees they have, as well as the turnover and balance sheet totals for the last financial year.

The application also asks about the scope, purpose and cost of the training being planned, as well as details about the training provider and the specific course details.

Those applying must also provide an overview of their organisation’s AI adoption and AI skill levels and any challenges faced in upskilling employees in AI and/or implementing AI. 

The government wants to understand how the funded training will help mitigate these challenges, and what benefits and outcomes are expected to be seen within the business.

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