With many niche and specialist providers having entered the Advanced Learner Loans market since Loans were launched in 2013 it has been for sure an interesting place to work over the last 4 years. For the funders, primes and sub-contracted providers themselves it has been a steep learning curve.
New providers with expertise in training and delivery in their sectors in many cases have found the “funded world” a huge challenge in terms of the knowledge required.
Complex funding rules, claim processes as well as the extensive audit and compliance requirements which are essential to safeguard their quality KPI’s and retain funds have proven to be a minefield for new providers to navigate through with varying degrees of support.
Although the FE press has been lately littered with various horror stories of unscrupulous conduct by certain primes it would be unfair to tarnish all with the same brush. Indeed the majority have been keen to support a high quality learning experience and work through the growing pains with new sub-contractors.
The recent shift in the SFA’s position on sub-contracts and their more rigorous assessment of growth cases has of course placed this market in a new place and 2017/18 looks set for further challenges.
Those wishing to stay in the Loans market are now forced to go it alone with direct contracting. For many this could be a huge opportunity to stand on their own two feet and develop a sustainable business with future growth opportunities. For others it is a daunting leap of faith into the unknown.
There is a huge degree of nervousness for many about making sure they have all the necessary building blocks in place to not only deliver a high quality learning experience but also ensure that funders, quality assurance organisations like OFSTED , the Student Loans Company and Sector Auditors are happy with them. This of course requires business resources, funds and robust processes as well as delivering for the learner.
Some organisations bewildered by the complexity of this and with nowhere to turn for support have unfortunately taken the decision to exit the Advanced Learner Loans market and go back to the commercial selling of their courses. This is a shame and can often exclude learners who the Loans service was aimed at reaching out to. Often a key consideration is the business resources and finances needed and “hassle” factor.
There is however support available and also innovate delivery models available to keep costs down and make admin straightforward.
Having been working in Loans since it was launched we are passionate about it being a successful product in the sector. We have worked closely with key partners since loans were introduced to fund higher level skills. With our combined sector expertise and the relationships we have built within Advanced Loans we have been at the cutting edge of developing some of the sectors larger and more successful contracts. These have all been built around high quality, innovation and creative delivery methods.
We are here to help with our experience and from the lessons we have learned on our journey. Together with support from key partners and our knowledge of having commissioned, implemented and launched new projects within providers and the sector we feel we have something to offer this growing but niche market.
For organisations prepared to invest in getting the foundations right this still remains in our opinion a great opportunity to develop a growing arm to a training business in the funded Advanced Learner Loans market and a potential dovetail and turn-key solutuon into more lucrative commercial markets in the UK or overseas.
If you wish to find out more about our knowledge, experiences and expertise then please contact us to discuss how we can assist you. There is no obligation to draw on our expertise on a call and we can explain how we can help you develop an offer.