Strategic Rationale for Subcontracting


South West Association of Training Providers Ltd (Swatpro) was formed in 2011 as a partnership of employers and training providers to provide an effective, not-for-profit, efficient, and cost-effective training provider partnership supporting employers and learners predominantly, but not exclusively within the South West. The partnership came together initially to respond to the minimum contract levels introduced from the Skills Funding Agency; enabling providers with smaller valued contracts to come together to continue to provide access to further and higher education and permanent employment. The not-for-profit approach, low service fee and surplus distribution into learning is seen as a sound working model. The partnership offers apprenticeships, advanced learner loans and full cost provision.

Providing high quality learning, skills and information, advice and guidance solutions for learners, employers and communities that are healthy and safe, provide equality of access and achievement and deliver value for money which is at the Centre of the Swatpro mission. The delivery model is flexible to meet the learner and employer needs and add the value identified by the employer to the business. The Swatpro model meets these aims,

  • enhance the opportunities available to young people and adults
  • fill gaps in niche or expert provision, or provide better access to training facilities by providing a cost - effective shared resource approach
  • support better geographical access for learners
  • Provides a platform for a peer-to-peer shared approach for resources, knowledge, and best practice

Success is achieved by the service being delivered by a professional dedicated team that has a strong and successful background in the sector and has the required skills in performance management, contract management, project management and quality improvement. Robust performance and quality management processes and practice are deployed to ensure the organisation’s KPI’s are met and continuous improvement is achieved.

The company has a unique pedigree as it is a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee. The members are established employers and providers approved on the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) and Register of Training Organisations (RoTO). They have a history of delivering high quality learning and skills development. In addition, the company is aligned to regional provider networks, offering partnership opportunities where appropriate with other colleges and providers. Swatpro maintains an essential relationship, and track record, with LEP’s, Local Authorities and the community.

The membership level is not prescriptive or exhaustive, and new members are welcome. This is dependent upon robust due diligence that is appropriate to the sector and the communities need for the provision. The company may also seek new members or partners to meet a proven need within a community, as a response to local or national policy, or to support the operation or delivery of members.

Swatpro retains a small percentage of the overall funding to provide essential and support services and distributes the remainder to partners. The retained funds cover the costs of Swatpro:

  • delivering learning and skills development within the organisation as a whole
  • meeting the responsibilities of a lead provider
  • funding planned cross-partnership developments
  • providing a common safeguarding solution to record, monitor and action concerns with learners
  • providing a collaborative quality improvement group to deliver improvements in provision

Any surplus is passed on to the subcontractors:

  • for learning and skills development
  • to allow investment in resources or facilities that improve the delivery of education and training
  • to fund a cross partnership development agreed by the board

The opportunity can arise to reduce the retained funding level as the Swatpro partnership grows as costs would not grow in proportion with the addition of partners, allowing more funding to flow to partner providers for the provision of learning and skills. The retained funding level in 2018-19 was 10%, reducing to 8.7% after surplus distribution and to 9% in 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Swatpro is uniquely qualified to deliver to the target market and meet the aspirations set by local plans and priorities as it has a wealth of expertise drawn from a wide variety of already successful employer and provider organisations. This matched with the ability of the partnership to gain from the benefits offered by joint working, common strategy, shared services, increased buying power, shared resources and increased efficiencies puts Swatpro able to deliver a strong and successful provision with accurate and robust contract management.

Swatpro considers the model to be high value and low risk that adds benefit to employers and learners and does not deserve to be pigeon-holed with many subcontracting models that are the opposite.

Funds are passed to separate legal entities through the financial process, the definition of subcontracting defined in the ESFA Funding Rules, Swatpro is compliant with the rules and act as if subcontracting due to this rule.

Swatpro works with partners and not subcontractors, this is important as a defining factor of the model is that the partners are invested in the model, have a say in its operation and strategy and consider themselves Swatpro, not an at arms-length temporary, convenient subcontractor.

Member organisation

Employer or provider

North Bristol NHS Trust


Puffins Ltd


Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital



Independent Training Provider

Varsity Training Ltd

Independent Training Provider

Wessex Training and Learning Ltd

Independent Training Provider

White Horse Training Ltd

Employer owned training consortium


To download this infographic, please click this link.

You can download our Supply Chain (Sub-Contractor) Retained Funding & Charges Policy (2023/24).

Approved by the Board and signed:

Craig signature

Craig Marshall
Non – Executive Director

Rodney Davis
Executive Director