Sub-Contractor Assurance Controls Audits

Sub-contracting apprenticeship delivery to other providers is considered standard practice within the work-based learning sector, however it is not as easy as it seems.

Whilst this practice spans decades of programmes commissioned by the government to support recruitment, training and progression within business, the emerging priority is to build robust, high quality and value for money supply chains within apprenticeships and this is where the SCACA comes in.

The Government now mandates every Apprenticeship training provider with a direct delivery contract (often known as ‘Primes’) to commission an external audit on its own internal capability and capacity to procure and manager sub-contractors for delivering apprenticeship training – where the contract value is likely to more than £100,000.

The Findings and (subsequent) Certification of the external audit provides the ESFA with the assurance that the Prime contractor has the necessary controls, staff, systems, procedures, capability, capacity and competence in place to manage and control sub-contracted apprenticeship delivery

The Pitfalls of Poor Sub-contracting

So what are the potential pitfalls of poor sub-contracting?  These could include:

  • Poor Ofsted rating (ALL sub-contracted delivery is the responsibility of the Prime),
  • High financial risk (e.g. when you are unable to claim the funds if your sub-contractors have not be fulfilling their part of the agreement),
  • Poor cashflow (e.g. if you don’t receive funds from ESFA on time and then can’t pay your subcontractors as per contractual terms),
  • Poor brand reputation (e.g. bad feedback from employers and learners due to your subs not delivering!),
  • Poor value for money (e.g. if you can’t show how your sub-contractors add value to your delivery and make a difference to learners and their progress),
  • Business instability (due to carrying losses ‘caught up’ in learning that is beyond planned end dates, poor quality training or no training delivered at all, even though it has been claimed, ETC.
  • Poor Success Rates (e.g. due to high learner withdrawal rates, etc.).


How Can ITSS Help You?

With our extensive expertise as practitioners in the Apprenticeships sector, the ITSS team  is able to forensically assess your capability and capacity against the ESFA’s requirements for sub-contracting.

Our Sub-Contractor Assurance Controls Audits (SACA) service evaluates your organisational capabilities against 40-50 key requirements and make recommendations within a fully documented Audit Report, which forms the basis of your Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).

Based on our findings, we will either:

  1. Certify you as having the necessary systems and controls in place to enable you to sub-contract with your selected provider, or
  2. Assist you to improve your competence in managing sub-contracted delivery, prior to certification.

Our key objective when delivering a SACA project is to provide value-added advice from the full breadth and depth of our experience within the Apprenticeships sector to help you avoid the many pitfalls associated with sub-contracting.

Call us on 07399 426907, or email if you would like to know more about ESFA Sub-Contractor Assurance Controls Audits.

See an example of one of our SACA projects here.