About us

What we do

We fund skills training for further education (FE) in England. We support over 1,000 colleges, private training organisations, and employers with £3.7 billion of funding each year.

Skills Funding Letter: April 2016 to March 2017

  • the SFA story – a short document setting out what the SFA does

  • SFA Business Plan 2015 to 2016 describes how we will deliver our key objectives and operational imperatives

  • new organisations – if you are new to the SFA, find out how to compete for funding opportunities to provide education and skills training


We are responsible for giving colleges, training organisations and employers the right funding to help adults, young people, the unemployed and people with low skill levels to get the skills they need for employment. This includes:

  • supporting traineeships for young people not in education, employment and training (NEET)
  • running the National Apprenticeship Service which supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of apprenticeships and traineeships throughout England and provides a dedicated, responsive service for both employers and learners
  • running the National Careers Service, which gives impartial, professional advice on careers, skills and training
  • overseeing and managing 24+ Advanced Learning Loans
  • in the 2014-2020 ESF programme, providing an opt-in service to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and LEP area ESIF sub committees, to work with colleges and training organisations in meeting their locally identified skills priorities; procuring, managing and match funding training activity funded by ESF, which it has identified as meeting the needs in the local ESIF strategy
  • helping offenders get into education or training using the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service

We also:

  • maintain Individualised Learner Record (ILR) data
  • publish data and datasets to support planning and performance reporting in FE
  • support the Learning Records Service, who maintain Unique Learner Numbers (ULNs) and Personal Learning Records (PLRs)


During the financial year 2015 to 2016 we have 5 strategic objectives:

  • to deliver more high-quality apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities and to champion and encourage participation in apprenticeships and traineeships

  • to use our simplified funding arrangements to fund the best-quality provision and deliver the government’s policy imperatives (including the focus on English and maths)

  • to provide financial assurance that we can properly manage and account for over £3.7 billion of public money spent on FE and skills, including working with BIS to monitor and support the financial health of the sector

  • to support employers and individuals to achieve outcomes related to employment and learning by commissioning and managing services that are based on customer needs and local priorities

  • to deliver excellent business performance through our people

Who we are

SFA has staff throughout offices in the UK. We have an advisory board and 4 advisory groups:

Corporate information

Jobs and contracts

Corporate reports