Long-running apprenticeship provider goes bust

An independent training provider in Birmingham has entered insolvency after Covid-19 reduced the company’s income to a point that “it was no longer in a position to continue trading”.

GB Training (UK) Ltd, which offers apprenticeships and is also an adult education budget provider for the West Midlands Combined Authority, has announced on its website that it has closed.  

Seventy staff will lose their jobs at the Ofsted grade two provider, and around 500 learners will have to be transferred to new institutions to complete their courses.  

Managing director Lawrence Barton said Covid-19 was the “critical factor” in the decision to close the family-run provider, which has trained “many thousands” of people over the past 25 years.

GB Training was able to access supplier relief funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency in the first round of funding, but was ineligible for the second round as it had taken out a government-backed loan “to keep us afloat”.

“Ultimately, the balance of income over our outgoings was no longer sustainable,” Barton said.

The pandemic, Barton added, “has had a devastating impact on our business. Learner starts and recruitment has been decimated. Our classrooms at our central Birmingham office have been forced to close for a period of four months.”

Both factors contributed “heavily to the painful decision we have been compelled to take,” he said, adding: “I have consistently called for the government to deliver more relief funding to the sector to help training providers such as ours.”

“We are tremendously proud of all the work we have achieved and for the family of staff who have made this all possible.”

Both the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the WMCA have been informed and are working with the provider on a “smooth” handover of learners to a new provider, according to the statement.  

It also said all certificates which have been received by the centre will be issued to learners “quickly”, except for all certificates by awarding organisation Skills First, which will deal with those centrally and will contact learners “shortly”. 

West Midlands Combined Authority has confirmed a small number of people were completing employability training funded through its Adult Education Budget – they will be transferred to South and City College Birmingham.

The ESFA has said it is “working closely with the provider to agree arrangements for the transfer of learners to alternative provision,” so they can complete their programmes.