Use FIPS to administer all payments for new start Modern and Foundation Apprenticeships.

FIPS support

FIPS Licensing

FIPS has now been live for a full year and many of the initial challenges in using the system have been resolved.

SDS has made the decision not to charge providers for licenses during the period April – October 2017 during this settling in period. Charging will be reinstated from 1 November 2017 until 31 March 2018 as per contracts issued for 2017-18. Providers will be invoiced for the period 1/11/17 to 31/3/18 in advance in a single lump sum. The cost of this will be £82.62 (incl VAT) per user.

Providers should have requested the correct number of licenses as they will not be able to obtain a refund for licenses. Should providers have a change of staff they will be able to effectively “exchange” their license for another one without additional charge by notifying SDS of the changes through the normal process for managing FIPS users. 

More information

FIPS technical specification requirements

To maximise the benefits of FIPS, check you have the minimum technical specification and have set up the correct user permissions:

Using two systems 

Training providers are required to use CTS for all claims relating to MAs and FIPS for all new starts.

Please note: For all new starts on FIPS you will need to use the revised Training Agreement found on the

If an individual completes an MA while in CTS before progressing to the next level, leaving details should be added to CTS and the progression new start added to FIPS.

If an MA has been entered against an incorrect qualification in CTS, training providers should contact their Skills Investment Adviser to re-activate the correct qualification in their contract on CTS. They will then be required to add leaving details and create a new start in CTS.

Adopt an Apprentice

Adopt an Apprentice applications should now be raised via FIPS. The current application process has not changed and can be used to enter the information to FIPS. The Funding Assistance Agreement will be generated by FIPS once the online application has been approved by SDS. For more information please review the Adopt an Apprentice videos.


A new system has been long-awaited and brings many advantages which have been requested by training providers. Benefits of FIPS include:

  • The system is a single automated service for administering all payments, programmes and incentives
  • All contract information will be kept online 
  • Training Providers will be able to re-forecast starts and spend
  • The process of requesting contract changes is streamlined and integrated 
  • FIPS is a robust, modern platform underpinned by the latest Microsoft technology
  • The new system allows Training Providers to effectively manage their contract 
  • FA starts and MA claims can be saved in draft format until they are ready for submission
  • Live reporting can be downloaded by each Training Provider
  • The new system facilitates validation and highlights outstanding tasks

Verification by individuals and employers 

FIPS enables SDS to better automate processes, and will also provide greater assurance around the use of public funding. This topic has featured in the news recently due to the publication of the National Audit Office’s report on Apprenticeships in England.

A key change is that all starts and payments made will be verified by the individual or their employer in response to automated emails/SMS messages and reminders.

Training providers will be able to track and prompt individuals to respond using the system alerts. It is important that your induction processes and review/assessment meetings with apprentices will make them aware of the importance of responding to emails/SMS texts.

Training and feedback

Following awareness sessions, SDS training videos are available for users to build and refresh their knowledge of the system.

As with any IT system, we are aware of further refinements that we would wish to make for further releases. SDS will be developing feedback mechanisms for training providers to input to this process and look forward to working with you on this.

Your support and understanding throughout the introduction of FIPS is much appreciated.

If you have any questions regarding FIPS please contact

Questions and answers

During webinar training sessions, we recorded questions from training providers about FIPS. You can now view our questions and answers document for our responses.

How-to guides and presentations

Accessing FIPS for the first time? Read the following guides:

SDS have created a handful of how-to guides to supplement the video guides below:

Use this presentation to work through the FIPS validation process:

Video guides

We've created a series of FIPS video guides to help you process Modern and Foundation Apprenticeships.

FIPS Modern Apprenticeship Focus Group

Below are the Terms of Reference and Minutes for the FIPS MA Focus Group.