‘Outstanding’ provider exits apprenticeships and bootcamps

'Market attractiveness' forces Avado to switch focus to AI

'Market attractiveness' forces Avado to switch focus to AI

8 Sep 2023, 12:00

An Ofsted grade one apprenticeship provider has pulled out of apprenticeship delivery and government-funded skill bootcamps due to a change in “market attractiveness”.

Avado Apprenticeships Limited, formerly known as BC Arch Limited, is switching its focus to growing business lines of “professional qualifications and AI technology software as a service (SaaS) products”.

The company, which was one of the largest providers of apprenticeships in England with 1,350 starts in 2021/22, has seen its turnover and profit drop in recent years.

Avado Apprenticeships’ latest financial report, for 2021, shows turnover dropped 29 per cent that year (from £16.9 million to £12 million) and gross profit went down from 53 to 29 per cent, “largely due to the increase in subcontractor costs for new standards”.

Avado then decided to “make a strategic exit from low value and less profitable HR apprenticeship courses”, with a focus instead on “more sustainable and profitable data, marketing and agility academies”.

It decided to exit apprenticeships altogether last month.

The provider also began delivering government-funded skills bootcamps last year in digital and data skills but is now pulling out. However, it will continue to support corporate-funded data and digital bootcamps.

Multiple other big providers have pulled out of apprenticeships and bootcamps in recent years due to unsustainable funding rates offered by the government.

Lee Arthur, chair of Avado, said: “There are fundamental changes in education delivery we expect to be brought about by AI technologies. Our decision was a strategic decision based on market attractiveness. There are several more attractive markets.

“We feel we could move faster in those markets and help more learners by exiting apprenticeships. We are quickly developing and deploying several AI-edtech assessment and virtual coaching technologies.”

He added: “We remain strong supporters and advocates of the apprenticeship ideal, and of all the people who work tirelessly in this field both in government and private sector – to give opportunities to people to build a career and learn their craft on the job.”

Avado Apprenticeships was originally formed as Arch Apprenticeships (BC Arch Limited) by parent company Blenheim Chalcot LTF Limited – one of the UK’s biggest venture builders and private equity specialists – in 2012.

Its aim was to address the sorts of digital skills gaps the firm was seeing in its tech start-ups. Blenheim Chalcot, which was also behind software giant Agilisys, has offices in India, South Africa and the US.

Run through the Avado Group Ltd (registered in Jersey), Avado saw itself as one of the largest government-authorised apprenticeship training providers. It supported more than 8,000 apprentices  over the past nine years and helped develop the UK’s first digital marketing apprenticeship.

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