Business of Education

What are Training Providers? A Guide to Training Providers in the UK

November 7, 2022

Table of Contents

Training Providers are organisations that provide vocational education and training to young people and adults.

Often, a training provider is the organisation who supplies the training element of an apprenticeship. They are generally a separate organisation from the employer, although larger employers sometimes also act as providers. Providers will work with employers to ensure apprentices learn skills necessary for apprenticeship framework.

Types of Training Provider

There are a number of different training providers, which include:

  • Independent Training Providers or Private Training Providers
  • Further Education Colleges
  • Universities and Higher Education
  • Adult Community Education Providers
  • Independent Specialist Colleges
  • 16-19 Academies
  • Dance & Drama Colleges

What is a Private Training Provider?

Private Training Providers or Independent Training Providers (ITPs).They are sometimes referred to as ‘independent learning providers’ or ‘private training providers’.

ITPs are an important part of the Further Education (FE) sector. They play a crucial role in training, teaching, and developing the skills of individuals all over the UK to support social mobility and economic productivity.

ITPs are training providers that are distinct from other types of FE providers such as colleges in that they are not run or directly controlled by the state. However, ITPs are still regulated by government agencies such as the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Ofsted in the same way as the rest of the FE sector. Most ITPs are companies (not for profit and for profit) and some are in the third sector.

As of August 2018, there were almost 1700 training providers publicly funded and delivering education, training and/or apprenticeships recorded on Ofsted's systems. As of February 2021, there were 1250 active training providers on the Government's register.

Independent training providers that obtain government funding typically offer training in the likes of:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Vocational qualifications
  • Study programmes
  • Traineeships
  • Commercial training

What is a Commercial Training Provider?

On we label a company that primarily offers commercial, bespoke or non-accredited training as a ‘Commercial Training Provider’.

They may not use government funding to support their delivery. However, in reality, there is significant overlap between funded and non-funded training providers.

Commercial training providers can still offer accredited training, typically being approved and quality assured by qualification vendors who partner with them to resell and deliver their qualifications. This may or may not attract government funding.

Register of Training Organisations

The Register of Training Organisations (ROTO) was a register of those that are eligible to be invited to tender for education and training services through the UK government.

It was decommissioned in 2021 and funding rules were updated to reflect this. The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers is now the entry point and standard for training providers wishing to deliver apprenticeships.

What is the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP)?

It is a record of training providers that are eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices.

You can check out the up-to-date list of providers by downloading the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers on the UK government website.

There are approximately 2,130 organisations on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, of which 77% are Independent Training Providers.

Who Can Join the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers?

Two types of organisation are eligible to join the RoATP:

  1. Training Provider (meeting certain eligibility criteria)
  2. Employer Provider paying the Apprenticeship Levy

Training providers that are listed on the RoATP have been through an application process with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) that considers due diligence, capability, quality and financial health to assess their capability to deliver high-quality apprenticeship training.

In order to be invited to become a training provider, a provider must be able to fill a training gap where there is currently no, or not enough training available (a gap in provision) or they must be nominated by an employer as a preferred provider, via a business case (this can only happen when an employer can evidence that they cannot source suitable training from an existing provider).

Find a Training Provider

When it comes to finding a training provider, it is important that you choose the best training course provider for your needs. There are many different providers out there, so it is important to do your research to find the one that is right for you.

Rather than relying on speculative approaches by sales teams from providers, why not do your own research. It’s better to research the training providers who are offering training in the areas you’re seeking development in.

Is anyone publishing great content that resonates with you? Are they seeking to support your industry? Do they aling with your values?

Need help searching?

Try these two directory resources if you’re stuck:

Find Courses

UK Government website for finding apprenticeship training providers

How to Choose a Training Provider

Choosing the right training provider is key to running a successful programme. There are a range of useful tools to help you to do this effectively. It is common for employers to appoint a main provider to deliver training for their staff. Sometimes these main providers will sub-contract some of the delivery to other providers for a variety of reasons. You should talk to prospective providers about what services they will deliver directly and sub-contract to others.

It is important to choose the best training provider for a company’s needs.

The starting point is to decide what your current and future training needs will be. The key questions are what programmes will you require, in what locations and what volumes.

The decision around selecting one training provider over multiple will depend on your program requirements. Some providers offer a broad range of programmes whereas others will specialise in niche areas. You need to decide if you're happy to manage a pool of providers or whether you'd prefer to use one provider for the bulk of your programs. This may result in you reassessing your training needs as you may want to narrow your range of programmes to minimize the effort required to manage multiple suppliers.

When selecting a training provider, another option is to choose one who will manage smaller providers under a subcontract arrangement. In this case, the main provider, who delivers the majority of your training, will contract with niche providers for programmes they can't deliver. This is becoming less common within funded training now as the regulations around subcontractor management are complex and many small providers prefer to have direct contracts with employers.

Once you have decided on the criteria above you can start researching training providers using the following criteria:

  • Your area of business need and if the provider has programmes matching the job role
  • The size and scope of the programme (numbers, geography and age groups). Is the provider able to accommodate?
  • Whether you will incorporate your in-house training materials or L&D initiatives into the programme.
  • Will you have the potential to customise and contextualise the programme to your company and individuals’ needs
  • The alignment of the training provider with your sector and industry.
  • The ability of the training provider to provide all of the training you require. Are they a specialist or a generalist? Will they be subcontracting some of your provision to other training providers?
  • Check online reviews, and Ofsted reports.
  • Seek information on their team’s level of experience and qualification.
  • Read through course content samples.
  • Check their course costs and payment plans.
  • Are they able to support you with government funding?
  • Seek introductions to other clients, perhaps those listed in testimonials or on case studies.

You might want to ask the following questions:

  • What experience does your training provider have in delivering training for businesses in my sector?
  • How long has your training provider been offering training, and what experience do your trainers and other staff have?
  • Does your training provider currently work with any similar businesses to mine, and can you put me in touch with satisfied clients or offer testimonials?
  • Can you give me a copy of your training provider's last Ofsted inspection report (if relevant) and their most recent full year success rates?
  • Does your training provider offer recruitment support?
  • How does your training provider deliver the training?
  • Which qualifications is your training provider accredited to deliver?
  • Can your training be tailored?
  • How do you make sure we have the right people on the programme?
  • How do other employers in my sector use your training?
  • What start dates do you have for each programme?
  • How will you keep me informed about the progress of training delegates?

TIP: Bolt’s employer pages link through to Google reviews, TrustPilot reviews and Ofsted reports.

You may wish to follow your own procedures for selecting and contracting with a new training provider. Many organisations will use a formal tender process to allow you to test if the supplier can meet your needs and fit culturally with your organisation.

We’re also happy to signpost to the best training providers, having an expert level of knowledge in the market. Get in touch if you would like some impartial advice.  

Working for a Training Provider

We’ve been working with training providers - commercial, funded and not-for-profit for over 10 years, matching the right people with the right providers. We’ve helped to start many careers in the education and training sector and can help you to gain your first role.

On Bolt’s site you’ll find a wealth of information about working in the sector on our Blog. We also hand-pick and curate as many jobs as we can find within the UK training sector, including many working with training providers.

You’ll find roles within delivery (including roles as trainers, lecturers, tutors, assessors and more), as well as roles within leadership, quality assurance, design, sales, compliance and support.

We hope this article is useful in providing you with details on what a training provider is, how to work with one, choose one and work for one.

If you want to hear from us weekly on the FE, Skills and Learning jobs market, you can subscribe below.

If you have any questions, you can find our founder Alex on Linkedin.

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Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.