Successes to date involving colleges and SMEs have led to a major research and development initiative aimed at "Enhancing CollegeSME Blended Learning Networks" (ECOSME).
ECOSME is being established by a consortium of 11 colleges, the Scottish Further Education Unit and Learndirect Scotland. It is partly backed by the European Social Fund.
The initiative will produce research-based and peer-informed guidance which will enable college resources to be used more effectively by SMEs, particularly ensuring that they get as much out of e-learning as possible.
It covers numerous sectors, all kinds of skills and a range of geographical areas.
Already under way is a Fife college project which involves businesses from the hairdressing and beauty sector. Each business has elected a learning champion who will undertake units of traditional learning, involving studying at Fife College as well as undergoing some work-based assessment.
The units are in customer service.
Learners also complete the British Computer Society's equal skills certificate.
The learning champion will then support another four colleagues. All five employees will undertake units online, using Learndirect materials in the same areas of customer service and IT.
These activities come under the umbrella of the UK-wide Skills for Business Network, set up between the Sector Skills Development Agency and the employer-led sector skills councils, each of which are specialists in particular industry sectors. The network brings together employers, trade unions and professional bodies to develop skills for UK business.