Hundreds of jobs at risk as Pearson announces closure of adult education business

More than 550 staff are facing an uncertain future after Pearson announced it was dropping its UK adult education business with a loss of £120m.

The firm revealed the plans for Pearson in Practice, which has around 5,000 learners, this morning with news of a consultation, set to last 90 days, on the future of its workers.

Pearson chief executive John Fallon said: “We very much regret the decision to plan for closure, but we believe we have explored and exhausted all alternatives.

“Our focus in the coming months will be on working with our partners in the further education sector and industry to ensure minimum disruption to learners who are currently enrolled in one of our programmes.”

Pearson in Practice has around 560 staff and all will be part of the consultation.

A company spokesperson said: “The consultation will begin soon, following the appointment of employee representatives.

“It will include discussion of the staff’s and staff representatives’ ideas regarding the business, as well as individual consultations.

“The value of the business being written off the balance sheet will be £120m and includes the estimated cost of closing the business until the end of the orderly wind-down period.”

He added: “There are no redundancy notices during this consultation, though the consultation will clearly outline the situation to staff regarding any redundancies that may follow this period.

“During this 90-day period and beyond, we will be talking to the Skills Funding Agency, and to FE colleges, other training providers and employers as part of our commitment to all learners to complete their programmes, either through Pearson in Practice during an orderly wind-down period or by transferring to other providers.”

Pearson in Practice was renamed last year having previously been called Zenos. The renaming followed criticism of the apprenticeship scheme delivered by Zenos in the Panorama programme The Great Apprentice Scandal, broadcast on BBC One.

The ICT apprenticeships delivered by Zenos were said to be entirely classroom-based and could not guarantee learners a job at the end.

Zenos had been acquired by Pearson in 2010 when it paid £99.3m for vocational training company Melorio.

A joint statement on today’s Pearson in Practice announcement was issued by the Skills Funding Agency and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

It said: “The agency and NAS are aware that Pearson has announced the intended closure of the Pearson in Practice arm of the company.

“Pearson in Practice has been in close dialogue with the agency and NAS to provide reassurance on the planned closure, which will take place pending an orderly wind-down period.

“The agency, NAS and Pearson in Practice’s priority is to ensure that learners and apprentices are supported and transferred to other skills and workplace training providers, and Pearson’s other work-based learning programmes, to ensure that they can complete their learning/apprenticeship with minimum disruption.

“Learners and apprentices will be kept fully informed as these discussions progress.”

It added: “Any affected parents, guardians, learners, apprentices or employers can contact Pearson in Practice directly.”

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