Provider goes under following ‘clawbacks’

A Liverpool-based provider that trained around 700 learners has gone into administration, putting 70 jobs at risk.

Scientiam appointed administrators from Mazars LLP on Monday, February 4.

It held a £2.5m contract with the Skills Funding Agency and had up to five subcontractors.

A statement issued by Mazars, which is looking for organisations to take on any part of Scientiam operations, said: “Our appointment reluctantly followed an internal review supported by advice from the external auditors which concluded Scientiam had become insolvent and could not continue its operations.

“Learner numbers not reaching targets coupled with clawbacks of previously advanced funding combined to drain Scientiam of its cash resources.

Our priority is to work with Scientiam and the administrator to transfer learners and apprentices to appropriate provider.”

“Although the administrators have had to announce cessation of all activity, and commenced redundancy consultations with all staff, it is nevertheless the administrators’ primary concern to facilitate as orderly a handover of these learners to a successor organisation as rapidly as possible.”

A spokesperson for the agency and the National Apprenticeship Service said: “Our priority is to work with Scientiam and the administrator to transfer learners and apprentices to appropriate providers, as quickly as possible, with minimal disruption, so they can continue their learning and apprenticeships.

Scientiam’s most recent set of accounts, filed in January last year and covering 12 months up to August 2011, showed a pre-tax loss of £29,641 from a turnover of just over £3m.

This followed losses of more than £306,000 in the previous year.

Wirral Metropolitan College is listed as Scientiam’s parent company in a 2012 Ofsted report. However, college spokesperson Sally Wysocki denied the college was the parent company.

She said: “Scientiam is not owned by Wirral Metropolitan College. It is a company limited by guarantee and is managed and operated independently of the college.

“A number of Scientiam’s non-executive directors have been college staff and, along with a number of other providers, the college has been a subcontractor for Scientiam.

“Scientiam has been experiencing financial difficulties for some time and since December 2012, additional non-executive directors from college staff were appointed to Scientiam’s board as ways were sought to assist the company with making its business more sustainable.”

She added: “The management and directors of Scientiam has done everything possible to try to assure the sustainability of Scientiam and avert the possibility of administration, however, it was with great regret that Scientiam had to be placed into administration.”

One of the company’s subcontractors was Absolute Training Solutions, a specialist glass industry training provider that has delivered NVQs and apprenticeships with Scientiam since 2009.

Sean Monaghan, director of Absolute Training Solutions, said: “It is really sad news that Scientiam has collapsed.

“We are proud of the work we have completed in partnership with Scientiam over the years.

“Our main priority now is to ensure the 111 live learners we have registered with Scientiam continue their training with us.”

An agency spokesperson said it would be writing to all learners and apprentices and a mailbox, scientiam@skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk, had been set up for concerned learners and their families. It directed any enquiries about payments due to local job centres.

For details on taking up Scientiam operations, phone Mazars on 0161 831 1100.