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Start Your Own Government-Funded Training Company

with Brooks and Kirk’s Consultancy Service

Which situation applies to you?

Situation One

You understand how the mechanics of running your own business work. It would be wrong for us to offer you advice on the best type of company structure for your accredited training company or your legal responsibilities. If you do need advice in this area is a good place to start.

Situation Two

You already have experience of being a trainer and want to take the next step of starting your own training company. Again if this is not the case take a look at Assessor Training for help and advice. Training is a very diverse industry that can cover many different skills.

Situation Three

You have already considered all the logistics and practicalities of starting your own training company. There is a lot of different things to consider. If you are unsure may we suggest you take a read of our page about bespoke training because you will find a lot of useful advice there.

Situation Four

You are already accredited to offer the courses that you would like to be funded by the government. It that is not the case please refer to Starting Your Own Accredited Training Company for advice on this.


“Training companies have to be on the register before they can access ESFA funding.”

What are Government Funded Courses?

Government funded course are any courses that are paid for entirely or in part by the government. The funding itself is actually managed by The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) which is an executive agency of the government. 

The ESFA funds a variety of standalone courses and apprenticeships. This can be in the form of a direct payment from the ESFA via a contract or through an Advanced Learner Loans Facility with course fees being paid by The Student Loans Company.

Suffice to say the ESFA does not go around handing money out to everybody who asks. Funding is applied for via a tendering process but before you can tender the training providers has to be on their approved list.

What will I need to offer Government Funded Courses?

What a training company needs to offer courses funded by the government varies depending on what type of training you are offering and how you would like it to be funded. Check out the funding models below for more advice on each type and the suitability to your training company.

Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced Learner Loans provide funding to help people aged 19 and over cover the cost of undertaking regulated qualifications at levels 3, 4, 5 and 6. The funding is paid directly to you, the provider, by the Student Loans Company (SLC) each month; but the learner’s attendance must be confirmed before any payments are made. Confirmation of the learner’s attendance is require for two weeks after enrolling on to the course, and after that every three months.

To become an approved provider able to offer advanced learner loans, you must have an advanced learner loans facility agreement with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The amount that an eligible learner can access depends on the course you are offering, and the fees you charge. The minimum they can borrow is £300, so you need to bear this in mind if you intend on charging less for your courses.

The course you are offering must also be at least 2 weeks long, to be eligible for funding. However, there isn’t a maximum time limit in which a learner has to complete their course. The ESFA does have a maximum limit on how long they can pay a loan for (most often between 2-3 years).

The Government website offers much more information on offering advanced learner loans.


There are three types of apprentice training providers:

Main Provider

This is for training providers who will directly deliver apprenticeship training for employers and hold their own contract with the ESFA. Whilst doing this, the training provider can also train its own employees, employees of connected companies or charities, and act as a subcontractor for other main and employer providers.

There are three prerequisites to applying to be a main provider:

  • You must have been trading for at least 12 months
  • You must be able to train apprentices in the first 12 months of being approved
  • You must have sufficient appropriately qualified and experienced members of staff.

Employer Provider

This is for employers who will directly deliver training to their own employees or those of connected companies only.
They can also act as a subcontractor for other employers or main providers.

Supporting Provider

This is when apprentices are delivered as a subcontractor to main providers.
If you are starting your own training company with apprenticeships on offer, main provider or supporting provider are the routes for you to follow.

Prerequisites for support providers:

  • You must have been trading for at least 3 months
  • Your subcontract will be limited to £100,000 in your first years, and £500,000 thereafter.

In order to be considered to offer apprenticeships, you need to be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). It is currently not possible to apply directly to join the register. However, you can be invited to join it.

Training providers that:

  • Fill a training need (gap in provision) and;
  • Have been named as a preferred provider in an employer business case;

Can be invited to join the register.

If you are one of the lucky ones who do get invited to join the register, the application is a hefty process. Applicants to the Main or Employer provider route must also have:

  • Been actively trading for at least 12 months and have financial information to support this;
  • The ability to train apprentices in the first 6 months of joining the register;
  • A management structure that has experience of developing and delivering training.

Adult Education Budget

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) is the main source of funding for all adult education outside of apprenticeships.  It is described by The Department of Education (DfE) as the “means of engaging and providing adults with the opportunity, skills and learning needed to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or further learning”. It is a significant pot of money valued at around £1.5bn each year.

The AEB has four main strands that it funds:

Training for the Unemployed

This strand is aimed at helping get unemployed people back into education or employment.


Traineeships are a mixture of training and work experience. They are designed to get people “Job-ready”. Often they are used as a route into an apprenticeship and normally include English and Maths tuition.

Community Learning

Community learning is for those who, for whatever reason, are considered to be a significant distance away from being able to secure employment or training. The funding can be used for a mix of accredited and non-accredited training. 

Statutory Entitlements

The AEB is also used to fund a learner’s statutory entitlements. These are;

  • English and Maths Functional Skills up to Level 2,
  • support for those aged 19-23 to achieve a Level 2 qualification, 
  • for those aged 19-23 to give them the opportunity to gain their first Level 3 qualification 

Serious about setting up?

Speak to an industry expert to find out how you can get from where you are now, to where you want to be – with our Initial Consultation Service.