ESFA today (8 Aug) published their guidance for using subcontractors in the delivery of apprenticeships, with some illustrative examples. 


Using subcontractors in the delivery of apprenticeships

PDF, 510KB, 13 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


This publication provides policy context, clarification of key terminology and some illustrative examples around the use of subcontractors in the delivery of apprenticeships. You should read this guidance alongside the apprenticeship funding and performance management rules 2017 to 2018.

Published 10 April 2018 
Last updated 8 August 2018 + show all updates

  1.  Updated to reflect relevant amendments made in version 1 of the 2018 to 2019 apprenticeship funding rules.
  2.  First published.

The publication provides policy context, clarification of key terminology and some illustrative examples around the use of subcontractors in the delivery of apprenticeships. It has been developed with input and advice from the ESFA’s Provider Reference Group. You should read this guidance alongside the apprenticeship funding and performance management rules 2017 to 2018.

The publication also explains that ESFA will review some of the apprenticeship subcontracting funding rules before August 2018.

This guidance is for:

  • providers that wish to ensure that they are subcontracting in accordance with the apprenticeship funding rules and policy intent
  • employers that wish to understand how subcontracting can support quality apprenticeship training
  • subcontractors that wish to understand more about how they can contribute to the delivery of apprenticeships

Policy background

Government’s apprenticeship reforms are designed to put control back into the hands of employers so they will gain the skilled workforce they need to compete globally. As part of this, ESFA want to make sure that employers can choose how they work with providers and their subcontractors to deliver high quality training that meets their needs. Subcontracting has always been present in apprenticeships to some extent.

It has tended to take one of two forms:

  • a provider engages one or more subcontractors to co-deliver an employer’s apprenticeship programme
  • a provider engages one or more subcontractors; the provider and the subcontractors work with different employers

The rules for subcontracting are designed to increase the quality of subcontracted provision and to ensure that employers have a direct relationship with their main provider. ESFA believe it is important that government funds are not diverted away from training and assessment in the form of fees and other charges, and so the intent of the rules is to make sure that the main and subcontracted providers both add value to the employer’s apprenticeship programme.

The main provider has full responsibility for the quality of all aspects of every apprenticeship delivered for the employer, and is required to carry out formal assessments of their subcontractors’ provision. The main provider is also required to deliver some of the employer’s apprenticeship programme’s training and/or on programme assessment.

ESFA will work with employers and providers to make sure subcontracting practices are proportionate, deliver good value for taxpayers and good outcomes for employers and apprentices. ESFA will continue to look closely at subcontracting practices, and will consider making further changes over time if necessary.


Employers want flexibility in the arrangements they make for the delivery of their apprentices’ training.

They want the choice to be able to:

  • work only with one provider and expect that provider to deliver all of their apprentices’ training
  • work only with one provider, with the expectation that the provider will manage a network of subcontractors
  • work directly with a number of providers

To enable them to meet these diverse employer needs, providers would like to understand more about the policy intent and flexibility of two of the apprenticeship subcontracting rules.

These two rules are:

1. At the outset of each apprenticeship, a main provider and employer will agree a plan for its delivery.

You must directly deliver some of the apprenticeship training and/or on- programme assessment associated with each employer’s apprenticeship programme. By apprenticeship programme ESFA mean the apprentices that are being trained for the employer that has chosen you.

The volume of training and/or on-programme assessment that you directly deliver for each employer must have some substance and must not be a token amount to satisfy this rule.

It must not be limited to a brief input at the start of each employer’s programme or involve delivery to just a few of a large number of apprentices.

2. You can use delivery subcontractors to complement your own delivery if requested by an employer and agreed at the start of an apprenticeship.

Delivery subcontractors can deliver full or part-apprenticeship frameworks and standards.

In their document, ESFA have answered the questions that providers have most commonly asked about these rules. The answers aim to provide more guidance on the policy intent of the rules and their flexibility; they are designed to complement the rules, not to change or replace them.

Future review

ESFA will keep this under review through testing the value it is adding in supporting employers and providers in delivering quality apprenticeships.  

In the coming months, ESFA will be reviewing at least two other aspects of the subcontracting funding rules:

The first is subcontracting fees and charges; to be assured that funding is being used for recognised costs. The second is the evidence requirements associated with the subcontracting funding rules.

Any subsequent changes to rules would come into force from August 2018.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page