Last piece of Elmfield sold off to NCG

The last piece of troubled provider Elmfield has been sold off after the company went into administration last month.

Fifty staff who had delivered the provider’s apprenticeships for supermarket giant Morrisons have been taken on by NCG (formerly Newcastle College Group) to see out the contract.

Joe Docherty

It had already taken on the contract for new Morrisons apprentices in May with its Intraining arm.

But the latest deal means apprentices who had started with Elmfield before May’s agreement — and who would therefore have stayed with Elmfield — will now move over to NCG, which paid £20,000 for the transfer of learners and other costs.

An NCG spokesperson said it had also agreed to pay its new staff backdated wages and expenses left outstanding from Elmfield’s demise.

Joe Docherty (pictured right), NCG chief executive, said: “As we were recently successful at winning delivery of new apprenticeship work for Morrisons it makes sense that we also take on existing provision now Elmfield’s business has been sold on.

Joe Docherty

“We can ensure that the same high standards of training which so impressed Morrisons in our bid can now be applied to all current staff on their programmes as well.”

Mickey Greenhalgh, Morrisons head of craft and functional skills, said: “We are pleased to extend our relationship with Newcastle College Group as it makes sense for our learners to be accredited by one organisation.”

The rest of the Elmfied business had already been sold to EQL Solutions Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary CareTech Holdings plc, as part of a pre-pack insolvency for a cash payment of £1.5m. Elmfield staff working on non-Morrisons contracts transferred to EQL.

Elmfield had been deemed inadequate by Osfted in May and was issued with a notice of concern by the Skills Funding Agency. The notice prevented it from taking on new learners. It then faced allegations of malpractice and finally went into administration.

The Morrisons contract was at the centre of the malpractice accusations, when it was alleged the company signed up staff to do apprenticeships — thereby allowing it to claim government funding — despite their having turned the programme down.

Elmfield founder Ged Sydall still faces a grilling from the Business, Innovation and Skills House of Commons Select Committee over the malpractice accusations.

Morrisons, CareTech and NCG are not accused of any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Lancashire-based training provider Training for Travel has gone into administration after being stripped of its £2.5m Skills Funding Agency contract following a damning Ofsted grade four inspection result and monitoring visit report.

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