Skills Funding Agency Course Directory Service

The Course Directory Service is a comprehensive cataloguing system which features a central portal developed and hosted by Tribal. Provider organisations use the portal to enter their records and update our central data warehouse in order that third parties can access and act on that information.

The requirement 

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) provide funding for skills training for further education in England, supporting over 1,000 colleges, private training providers, and employers with £3.7 billion of funding each year. It is important that potential students can search for and identify courses that may be of interest to them. The legacy service that had been used to catalogue courses for the previous ten years was no longer fit for purpose, and the SFA required a high quality, secure, robust and easy-to-use solution with a low total cost of ownership.

Meeting the requirement 

The SFA’s Course Directory Service contains hundreds of thousands of records, so we designed and implemented a solution which utilises a highly sophisticated data validation service to minimise the potential for incorrect or duplicated entries. 

Our solution is based on open data standards, so the database can be accessed by third party organisations who may wish to use the data to support the delivery of other related services. 

Tribal also provides the underlying technology for the search and result filtering service that is accessed by the public when they explore education opportunities from within the catalogue using the National Careers Service (NCS) website. The NCS site is used by hundreds of thousands of people searching for education and training courses. 

In order to ensure data quality, Tribal set up a team of Information Advisers whose job it is to review the timeliness and quality of the data being uploaded by providers who receive their funding from SFA on condition that they update their entries at least quarterly. This team proactively monitors the data uploads from providers using automated dashboards which provide RAG (red/amber/green) exception reports. 

Our Information Advisers use this data when contacting providers who might be having difficulty in keeping their data accurate and up to date in order that they can provide direct support for addressing underlying issues. 

Following the successful deployment of the Course Directory Service and a new initiative from the Department of Education, the SFA had the confidence to commission Tribal to deliver a new project in the second year in which we expanded the scope of the service to include the 3300+ schools and sixth form colleges delivering ‘A’ Level courses. 

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