Further Education (FE) Colleges

  • Are at the heart of the UK’s TVET system providing training across different sectors
  • Deliver training programmes from foundation level to higher education (including degree apprenticeships)
  • Historically not for profit although many now have commercial operations and reinvest profits back into publicly funded provision
  • Have an important community role as a major local employer and centre of learning
  • Identify opportunities to deliver non-funded training on a commercial basis 
  • Provide high-quality TVET for young people, adults and employers
  • Deliver programmes for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Have a key role in strengthening local, regional and national economies
  • Support transition to work or further study 
  • Have expert teaching staff with up-to-date industry knowledge
  • Industry standard facilities

Other College providers

  • Sixth form colleges cater primarily for the 16-19 age group and offer a diverse range of mainly classroom based courses in academic and TVET programmes . Around two-thirds of sixth form college learners progress to higher education.
  • Land-based colleges colleges provide education and training in areas relating to animals, plants, farming, and the environment. 
  • Art, design and performing arts colleges offer specialist courses for the creative sectors. 
  • Independent Specialist Colleges (ISCs) offer specialist support to young people with learning difficulties,  and/or disabilities.

Independent Training Providers (ITPs)

  • Can be both for profit or not for profit, including working in the voluntary sector. 
  • Deliver government funded training especially to provide ‘off-the-job’ training; including for apprentices.
  • Also deliver non-government funded training, including non-accredited bespoke training.
  • Tend to be smaller than FE colleges so may deliver more niche or technically specialist provision. FE colleges will often sub-contract ITP’s and work in partnership with them. 
  • Larger ITPs will provide training opportunities across the country in a range of vocational training areas. 
  • Partner with employers who want to access external expertise to help them manage their training. This includes organising ‘on the job’ training provided by the employer in the workplace.


Deliver some vocational courses, particularly for learners aged 14 to 18. 


Offer programmes at higher level technical skills; this includes through the delivery of Degree apprenticeships (also delivered through FE Colleges).

Training Providers: the sector is made up of many different types of providers but all share these key characteristics and objectives