College steps in to save apprentices

More than 160 engineering apprentices are set to be transferred to City College Norwich from an independent learning provider facing closure.

The college said the East Anglian Group for Industrial Training (Eagit), based in Norwich and formed in 1967, is set to close in July.

The college will take on 146 level three and 22 level two engineering apprentices — which the college said were all the apprentices currently registered with Eagit.

Corrienne Peasgood, principal of City College Norwich, said: “We will draw on our existing expertise in engineering training, our well-established relationship with Eagit, and our extensive experience of apprenticeship delivery, to ensure a smooth transition for employers and apprentices.”

Eagit is a lead provider and City College Norwich and Lowestoft College are subcontractors, through contracts worth £28,255 and £16,053, respectively (as of March 27).

City College Norwich confirmed it had delivered training for technical certificates for Eagit’s level three mechanical engineering apprentices since 2005.

Eagit also runs a variety of engineering-related FE courses and the college spokesperson said: “We are in discussion [with Eagit] to ensure that its adult learners, and this provision, can also continue.”

A spokesperson for Lowestoft College said it provided specialist engineering training for Eagit, but declined to comment on whether it would become the primary contractor for Eagit learners.

David Shorten, chief executive of Eagit, said: “Eagitis pleased to have secured provision for our current apprentices and the future of engineering apprenticeships in Norfolk.

“The current economic climate means it is increasingly difficult for a small provider like ourselves to survive.”

Norwich college is inviting Eagit apprentices and their employers to meetings to discuss the transition plans on Thursday, April 24, and May 1.

Eagit was rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted in July last year, when it had 280 learners.

A subsequent monitoring report published in January said it had made “reasonable progress” with improving apprentices’ numeracy and literacy, but “insufficient progress” with managing staff.

Eagit received £114,769 funding from the adult skills budget and £882,119 for 16 to 18 apprenticeships in 2012/13.

A Skills Funding Agency spokesperson said: “We are assured that City College Norwich has the capacity available to support learners currently studying with Eagit through to the timely completion of their apprenticeships.”