Training provider calls it quits after 50 years

Key Training locks its doors after failing to renew borrowing facilities

Key Training locks its doors after failing to renew borrowing facilities

A training provider that has been running services for the past 50 years has called in the liquidators.

Key Training Ltd locked its doors for good this week having offered adult education, apprenticeships and study programmes to young people since the 1970s.

FE Week understands the owners of the Ofsted ‘good’ rated provider were unable to renew borrowing facilities with its bank leaving it unable to pay its debts as they fall due.

It comes after the provider missed out on both devolved and non-devolved adult education budget contracts in recent procurements.

Around 70 staff will now lose their jobs.

Chair Andrew Dunsire told stakeholders he was lining up a new buyer but despite showing “strong initial interest and considerable due diligence”, the buyer withdrew.

Key Training has appointed Turpin Barker Armstrong as its liquidator following a review of the provider’s financial affairs. Its latest accounts go up to the year ending July 2022 and show the provider owed almost £1 million to creditors.

Liquidators expect to notify creditors of next steps in the next few weeks.

Dunsire assured stakeholders he has tried all avenues to trade on and not let any creditors down.

Key Training operated mostly in the northeast and has held adult education budget contracts annually with the North of Tyne Combined Authority worth over half a million pounds in recent years, but it was unsuccessful in re-securing its contract in the last tender round.

The provider also doesn’t hold a national AEB contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency. It operated in the traineeships space, but that scheme has now been ended by the government.

Key Training held a near-£1.5 million contract to deliver study programmes for over 400 16- to 19-year-olds in 2021/22, and trained over 510 apprentices in the same year.

Its apprenticeships have, however, plummeted since the launch of the levy in 2017. In the year prior to levy launch, Key recorded 2,080 starts – which halved a year later. For the first three quarters of 2022/23 Key Training recorded just 260 apprenticeship starts.

Key is the latest in a spate of large and long-running training providers to go bust over the past year.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers launched a campaign over the summer following the closure of Skills Training UK.

It is pleading with ministers to take urgent action to prevent the “total collapse” of the training system, which is being caused by a “perfect storm” of rising costs, reduced AEB contracts, the end of the traineeship programme last year, and real-terms cuts to apprenticeship funding bands.

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. So I was an apprentice and the training provider I was with was key training. The employers were terrible and they tried to get me fired (eventually did) unfairly. Key training did nothing to help me get a new job even though they acknowledged that the employers were wrong to do this. They then contacted me two months later saying that they tried to contact me (they didn’t) and wanted to know what I was doing now. I never responded. I had an interview with another training provider (disgusting people, didn’t know at the time) but they told me, they probably did this, cuz they lied to government and told them I was still with them. This all happened five years ago. I remember I even applied to another apprenticeship with them a couple months after I was fired and they wouldn’t even respond to my application. I reported this. And next thing I know the branch i was with closed down.

  2. Lee Wilkes

    We used Key Training to deliver our virtual Microsoft training courses. If there is anyone who has booked onto (and potentially already paid) a future Excel or Power BI course, please contact me. We are now delivering these courses directly ourselves (the same course, day, trainer etc), and will allow any of Key’s learners to attend free of charge wherever possible so they don’t have to pay twice.