Use FIPS to administer and claim payments for Modern and Foundation Apprenticeships, Employability Fund and ITA participants.

FIPS Licensing

FIPS is a modern cloud-based solution from Microsoft which will remain up-to-date and will always have the latest features available for Training Providers. This system is the best of its kind and provides best value for SDS and its customers. It also requires an annual licence fee for each user.

Training Providers will be invoiced for the period from 01/04/18 to 31/03/19.  The cost of this will be £198.24 (including VAT) per user. This is a one-off payment charged at the beginning of the financial year.  Any additional licences requested throughout the year (which are not replacing a current user) will incur a licence fee from the month of set up to March 2019. This will be a rate of £16.52 (including VAT) per month. Please note that these charges apply for annual User Permissions with an effective date (commencement date) before 31st March 2019.

Prior to invoicing taking place, SDS will issue a report of current users to Training Providers to review, update and return. Please be aware, this returned information will be used for invoicing purposes and refunds for licences will not be processed. 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 continue to use CTS for all claims relating to MA starts prior to November 2016 and EF starts prior to 1 April 2018 and continue to use FIPS for all MA new starts. All EF starts from 1 April 2018 should also be added to FIPS.

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

  • The MA Training Agreement can be found on apprenticeships.scot.
  • The EF Training Agreement can be found on the training provider area of the SDS website.

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.

Benefits

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 
  • 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.

This feature of FIPS will not be in use for Employability Fund. 

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 FIPS@sds.co.uk

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 for MA: 

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

FIPS Modern Apprenticeship Focus Group

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