Kaplan knocks Lifetime Training off apprenticeship levy top spot

Finance giant topped earners list in 2021/22, as Multiverse entered the top 10

Finance giant topped earners list in 2021/22, as Multiverse entered the top 10


Kaplan has become the highest-earning training provider in the apprenticeship levy market despite recording less than half the number of starts of its closest competitor.

The finance giant knocked Lifetime Training off the top spot after raking in over £45 million from big levy-paying businesses in 2021/22, according to FE Week analysis of government data published this week.

Kaplan Financial Ltd, which delivers high numbers of expensive apprenticeships, such as the £21,000 level-7 accountancy or taxation professional course to employers including Microsoft, Cisco and HSBC, saw its overall starts numbers soar by more than third from 4,620 in 2020/21 to 6,240.

This fuelled a growth in income from levy-payers by almost a quarter from £36.5 million to £45 million.

Lifetime Training, which had earned the most levy income each year since the policy launched in 2017, increased its starts by 30 per cent from 12,910 in 2020/21 to 16,720 in 2021/22 but levy-payer income remained at just over £43 million over the period.

Unlike Kaplan, Lifetime’s delivery is mostly in sectors that attract lower apprenticeship funding bands, including hospitality, retail and adult care. Its customer base includes the NHS, McDonald’s and B&Q.

Both providers are judged ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted. Kaplan’s current overall apprenticeship achievement rate is 55.9 per cent while Lifetime’s is 35 per cent.

Apprenticeships are just one arm of Kaplan Financial Ltd’s business, but its accounts state that “revenue has remained strong since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy”. The firm recorded profit after tax of £9.4 million in the year ending December 2022, up from £8.7 million the year before.

Lifetime Training’s accounts for the year ending January 2022 show a loss of £9.2 million, compared to a profit of £6.8 million in 2020.

Stacey Fitzsimmons, chief operating officer of Kaplan Financial, said: “Our apprenticeships are in high-growth sectors – professional and financial services and data and tech – and our clients recruit apprentices, often in their very first job, in high numbers.

“We work with forward-thinking clients who understand the power of apprenticeships and the benefits they can bring to addressing skills and recruitment gaps. Many of our large employers increased the number of new roles in accounting and finance for learners coming out of education and into apprenticeships during this period.”

Multiverse joins the top 10

FE Week identified the shift by analysing the final funding allocations for training providers in 2021/22, published this week by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which included values for how much each provider was paid by apprenticeship levy-paying employers. 

The agency first published levy allocations four years ago for the 2018/19 education year. At the time, Lifetime Training topped the list after it was paid £51.5 million – almost double the next closest provider, QA Limited, on £26 million.

Other notable changes in the latest figures include Multiverse Group’s rise into the top 10 highest earners from the levy market (full table below). It placed sixth overall, up from 13th the year before, after more than doubling its income from £12.3 million to £27.5 million over the period.

Multiverse, owned by former prime minister Tony Blair’s son Euan Blair, recorded a 62 per cent rise in starts between those years, growing from 3,045 to 4,940. It mostly delivers high-priced standards such as the £15,000 level-4 data analyst and the £12,000 level-3 data technician.

BPP Professional Ltd, which, like Kaplan, also mostly delivers the £21,000 level-7 accountancy or taxation professional standard, remained the fourth-biggest levy provider, while IT provider QA Ltd stayed at fifth.

Corndel Ltd, which mostly delivers leadership and management apprenticeships, remained the seventh biggest levy earner, while Babcock Training, which has since offloaded most of its apprenticeships arm, dropped to eighth. 

The British Army dropped to the third biggest apprenticeship levy training provider, while the Royal Navy remained in ninth place and the Royal Air Force fell to 10th.

Staffordshire University in 13th place replaced Manchester Metropolitan University (14th) as the highest-ranking university in terms of levy-payer income, earning £14.2 million in 2021/22 compared to £9.9 million the year before.

Bridgwater & Taunton College remained the highest earning college with £6.3 million in 2021/22, up from £5.5 million the previous year, but dropped down to 46th place overall.

The total amount of levy funding handed out in 2020/21 was £1.3 billion, shared between 1,355 apprenticeship providers.   

This increased to £1.5 billion in 2021/22, but the overall provider base shrunk slightly to 1,315.

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One comment

  1. David Turin

    Interesting pitched article, what’s the motive here?? Is it a race to see who can make the most money from apprenticeships now, or a subconscious attack on what are deemed as “failing” providers by not being top of the money making league??