The nation’s largest training provider to the UK civil nuclear industry has been bought out by the City & Guilds Group – through a deal that will also involve it taking on board an apprenticeship training agency.

The purchase of Gen2, which works with more than 250 employers across six sites in Cumbria, was announced this afternoon.

The provider also operates Cumbria ATA, which recruits, employs and arranges training for apprentices on behalf of employers throughout the region, in return for a management fee.

Gen2, which counts Iggesund and British Steel among its employer-partners, is rated Ofsted ‘outstanding’ and has over 1,300 apprentices and 250 students on higher education programmes. Sellafield is its biggest employer, with a £4.6 million 2016/17 allocation for apprenticeships.

The City & Guilds Group says Gen2 will also look into becoming one of the first government-backed Institutes of Technology, following the acquisition.

Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds Group, said: “Technical skills delivery is a core part of our heritage, and we are excited to expand our offer by bringing Gen2 into the group.

“The engineering and nuclear industry is anticipated to grow extensively in the future, particularly in Cumbria, but it cannot grow unless it has a skilled workforce.

“Gen2, as a City & Guilds Group business – and potentially as a new Institute of Technology – will be at the heart of ensuring the industry can thrive in the future.”

Gen2 was established in 2000 by five partner companies: Sellafield, Amec Foster Wheeler Nuclear Holdings, Tata Steel UK, Iggesund Paperboard, and Innovia Films.

Plans for the new IoTs – which will focus on high-level provision in science, technology, engineering and maths at levels three four and five – were first outlined by the government in July 2015, then again in the post-16 skills plan last July and in the industrial strategy green paper in January.

Gen2 is currently the approved provider for two national skills academies and has developed higher level programmes such as a suite of nuclear related technology foundation degrees.

The provider had a £12.5 million turnover and 168 staff, according to its accounts for the financial year ended March 31, 2016.

The acquisition of Gen2 is not the first time the City and Guilds group has been involved with vocational training.

The former Skills Funding Agency allocated over £8 million in 2011-2012 to City and Guilds, to deliver 25,000 apprenticeships with Asda, but the group later pulled out of the arrangement.

It acquired The Oxford Group – which delivers management training – in 2015, but taking over Gen2 will be mark its proper return to delivering vocational training.

Mike Smith, CEO of Gen2, said: “Being part of a wider, larger group will enable Gen2 to continue its growth trajectory and, working with the other companies within the City & Guilds Group, we hope to be able to offer our customers and their learners the best training and education to meet their future needs.”

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