What is the National Skills Fund?

What is the National Skills Fund?

The National Skills Fund is a new funding option within the Adult Education Budget, which offers learners aged 19+ the opportunity to claim full funding for their first full level 3 qualification. Unlike the Level 3 Legal Entitlement, there is no upper age limit.

Only a targeted selection of qualifications fall into the NSF, these are aims that the ESFA believes will ‘…help adults to train and gain the valuable skills they need to improve their job prospects. It will support the immediate economic recovery and future skills needs by boosting the supply of skills that employers require’ (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-skills-fund).

Qualifications within the NSF will generate an uplift to help support training providers, there are two uplift rates:

  • Category 45: £600 per-qualification uplift (360+ GLH)
  • Category 46: £150 per-qualification uplift (1-359 GLH)

How can you check qualifications?

There are three places you can look.

Find a Learning Aim

You can use Find a Learning Aim to check the categories which apply to a qualification, and what the valid dates are.

In addition to confirming that the categories are valid, you will also need to make sure that the last date for new starts (LDNS) has not expired. There is no dedicated listing for National Skills Fund funding, but you can use either the Adult Skills LDNS or the Advanced Learner Loan LDNS (as confirmed by the ESFA via email).

National Skills Fund List

The ESFA publish a list of qualifications that appear in the NSF offer, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/qualifications-in-new-funded-offers

ESFA List of Qualifications approved for funding

The ESFA publish a full list of fundable qualifications across all funding types - you can check any qualification here and it should carry the most recent data (although this service tends to lag about a month behind Find a Learning Aim).


Who is eligible?

Anyone who is aged 19+ on 31 August in the year they start, and 19+ on the day they start.

If the learner is aged 19-23 and the qualification appears in both the Legal Entitlement list and the National Skills Fund list, providers should claim funding via the Legal Entitlement (see paragraph 115.1 in the AEB funding rules for 21/22).

How is funding paid?

The ESFA will pay for anyone aged 23 or younger when they start out of your normal AEB contract, this would include the qualification weighted value, plus the NSF uplift (and any other modifications).

For anyone aged 24 or older, the funding will come out of your dedicated National Skill Fund contract.

See paragraphs 67 and 68 in the AEB rates for 21/22.

How to record in the ILR

You can record fully funded enrolments via the NSF using Funding Model 35 and LDM Code 378.