Redundancies planned at massive apprenticeships provider to government

A huge training provider that delivers hundreds of apprenticeships for the civil service is planning to make major redundancies.

Training giant QA Limited, which currently employs over 2,250 staff, is bracing itself for business to plummet following recent conversations with their clients as a result of Covid-19.

FE Week understands that hundreds of those jobs are now at risk but the company would not be drawn on a figure. It is preparing to launch a consultation on the losses in the coming weeks.

A QA spokesperson said that since the start of the pandemic, the firm has taken “extensive measures to ensure that it can continue to serve its customers and provide critical training virtually, while its training centres have been closed”. 

“Due to the severe economic recession however, it is now clear that activity in our sector will be reduced for some time and this has been confirmed in recent conversations with clients,” they added.

“As a result, the group needs to reduce costs and this will involve all areas of the business and is likely to result in a number of redundancies.”

The spokesperson said these steps will ensure that QA “weathers the current crisis well and is then able to play a key role in the economic recovery that will follow by providing skills to help businesses grow and create new jobs”.

QA is one the largest apprenticeship providers in England and one of the first to announce redundancy plans as a result of coronavirus.

It offers commercial training and apprenticeships to the technology sector and recorded a £181 million turnover in its most recently published financial accounts, for 2018.

The firm already made 90 of its staff redundant in January 2020 after taking a strategic decision to refocus its apprenticeship division to more technology focussed programmes, according to the spokesperson.

QA has 19 training centres across England and was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted following a visit in January this year when the firm had 6,500 apprentices. Around 2,700 of those were studying IT, around 2,500 on business administration and law apprenticeships, and 2,000 were on business management apprenticeships.

It is also an approved provider of apprenticeships to the Crown Commercial Service and a subcontractor to KPMG – training hundreds of apprentices for the civil service in departments such as the Cabinet Office and the Treasury. KPMG was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in March 2020 in a report that criticised the provision offered by its subcontractors.

QA came under new leadership in September 2019 when former RBS and Direct Line Group boss Paul Geddes took over as chief executive from William Macpherson.

Macpherson retired two years after he helped strike a deal for private equity firm CVC Capital Partners to buy out QA from previous owners Bregal Investments. The deal as reportedly worth £700 million.