From education to employment

Pearson in Practice to close

Education giant Pearson has announced plans to exit its adult training businesses in a move that will affect roughly 5,000 learners.
The company said a radically different trading landscape caused by government funding and policy changes has reduced demand for its Pearson in Practice unit, which it acquired in 2010 for nearly £100 million.
The subsidiary provides industry-specific qualifications through apprenticeships and work-based training programmes – mostly to young adults. These courses can last between three months to a year, and the company said it planned to transfer its learners to other training providers if needed to complete their programmes.
Pearson in Practice made £95m in June 2010 on the back of strong government support to increase the employability of young people.
However, under pressure to ensure these courses result in visible employment, the government has created stronger rules in recent years that force training providers to line up employers for after apprentices finish their courses.
This shift from a programme-led apprenticeship system to one with the onus on employers means the subsidiary no longer has a sustainable business model, according to Pearson.
The plan to wind down Pearson in Practice also puts more than 500 jobs at risk, primarily in Nottingham, Chester and Banbury.
John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said: “We very much regret the decision to plan for closure, but we believe we have explored and exhausted all alternatives.
“Our focus in the coming months will be on working with our partners in the further education sector and industry to ensure minimum disruption to learners who are currently enrolled in one of our programmes.”
Pearson said its discussions with training providers and colleges will also look at the possibility of transferring assets. Nevertheless, it expects to take a £120 million hit from exiting the business.
The company will continue to provide training for young adults through Pearson Work Based Learning (WBL), which works in partnership with employers and professional bodies. Whereas Pearson in Practice delivers training programmes directly to learners, either ahead or on behalf of employers, WBL’s role is to supply education resources and assessment on behalf of businesses, colleges and training providers. WBL supported 170,000 apprenticeships in the UK and internationally in this way in 2012, through brands such as BTEC and LCCI.

Natalie Thornhill

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