Learndirect Apprenticeship staff and assets transferred to PeoplePlus for nominal fee


The new owner of Learndirect’s apprenticeship division has transferred all assets, in a hastily arranged deal, to the company that had previously had an offer rejected, FE Week can reveal.

It has been confirmed today that PeoplePlus Group Ltd, part of Staffline Group plc, has taken on the staff, customers and apprentices of Learndirect Apprenticeships Ltd (LDA) for a nominal fee believed to be £1.

FE Week understands that by the end of last week it had become clear that many LDA employers had chosen to stop recruiting new apprentices.

With new business drying up, Learndirect group’s new owner Wayne Janse van Rensberg made the quick decision to agree a deal.

Mr Janse van Rensberg and Simon Rouse, who leads PeoplePlus Group, were said to have begun “constructive discussions” about building a “long term strategic partnership”.

Wayne Janse van Rensberg

“Those discussions identified PeoplePlus Group as the ideal long-term home for LDA given its strategic focus on growing its apprenticeship, learning and skills business and the strong cultural fit between the two organisations,” a spokesperson explained.

It is understood that the LDA business will now be integrated into the PeoplePlus Apprenticeships operation.

“I am really pleased that we have been able to find the right long term home for colleagues in LDA and the learners they support,” said Mr  Janse van Rensburg.

“This is a great business which I am sure will go from strength to strength within PeoplePlus.

“This transaction enables us to focus on the role I want Learndirect to play in transforming technology, content and the learner experience in adult education across the UK – looking forward to new funding streams and capitalizing on the great people and resources that remain in the Learndirect Group.”

It comes just over two weeks after FE Week revealed that the entire senior executive team at LDA along with 18 other senior employees had quit to work for PeoplePlus Group, the firm that had only recently had a purchase offer for LDA rejected.

As reported exclusively, Learndirect had been working for weeks on a sale to PeoplePlus Group, a division of Staffline Group, a listed company and one of the biggest recruitment firms in the UK.

PeoplePlus undertook several weeks of due diligence on a purchase of the entire Learndirect Group, but the talks were understood to have ended after their offer to only take ownership of Learndirect Apprenticeships Ltd was rejected.

Learndirect, then owned by the private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital, instead did a deal with entrepreneur Mr Janse van Rensburg to take ownership of the whole group.

Mr Janse van Rensburg is also the managing director of the Stonebridge College Group, which supplies Learndirect with a Virtual Learning Environment known as PEARL.

Mr Rouse spoke of his huge pleasure that the LDA had gone through.

He said: “I am delighted that the business of LDA is joining PeoplePlus Group.

“I view the collective team in LDA as the very best in the UK apprenticeships market and we are excited about the opportunity our combined business now has to be the leading apprenticeship provider in the UK.”

Mr Janse van Rensberg previously spoke to FE Week about his vision for the rest of the non-apprenticeship business and rebuilding the brand, which has was plagued by scandal in the months leading up to his takeover.

“Part of my vision, and people might question my sanity here, is to bring the brand back into the forefront of education,” he says. “I have big things I need to do in terms of reputation repair.”

 “I plan to keep the business and run Learndirect Ltd as a commercial training provider, as there is no opportunity for us to receive any more government funding,” he added.

“It has great content, initial assessments and diagnostics, which a lot of money has been spent on over the years. My ambition is to bring that into the sector and allow other training providers to use our content to support their delivery.

“Whether we charge to do that or, as part of our ‘sorry’ statement to the sector, give it away for free, that is where we want to go with Learndirect Ltd.”

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  1. Richard morley

    Following on from 22 of the old LDA directors moving to people plus prior to this, stinks of a dodgy deal to me. Feel sorry for the LDA staff who had secured jobs elsewhere but were persuaded to stay under the new leadership to now work under the same incompetent directors they were originally trying to get away from. As a for LDA employee, I think with these people on the board there will be Worrying times ahead for people plus.

  2. Timothy Kendall

    Does anyone know how many staff have been made redundant at Learndirect Ltd?
    It seems ironic that the Public Accounts Committee banned Learndirect Ltd from bidding for government contracts due to its performance with apprenticeships yet as a result of both the botched Ofsted inspection and the PAC inquiry it is, in fact, the staff on the delivery contracts who have been made redundant even though they had no contact with the apprenticeship side of the business. Why did it seem justifiable to give the two sides of the business separate Ofsted ratings but not treat them separately as businesses which they were about to become and subsequently have? Learndirect Apprentices still exists but the delivery arm and its hundreds of staff do not. The delivery arm was given a grade 3 by Ofsted. Teaching and support for learners were rated as good at grade 2 but Ofsted deemed the tracking of outcomes and recording targets set not rigorous enough and therefore awarded a grade 3. The only result of this whole debacle is that thousands of learners have no support and hundreds of skilled and dedicated staff have been made redundant. This is largely a result of Ofsted making the assumption that Learndirect was trying to hide something from them and literally came to their inspection with bias. The most obvious example of this is the inspector that claimed Learndirect were deliberately blocking his access to online systems. I worked for Learndirect in centres throughout the South West and London for four years and if I could get consistent access to the systems that I needed it was bordering on unusual.
    Is anyone going to learn any lessons from this debacle I wonder?