Although launched in 2015, it is only in the last 18 months or so that degree apprenticeships have begun to gain some traction with employers and students alike. It has long been a complaint of employees that current graduates and/or degree programmes don’t provide the necessary skills that are required in the workplace and that many graduate entrants simply lack basic commercial awareness and soft skills.

In addition since their foundation, the types of degree apprenticeships on offer have evolved away from mainly STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and towards legal, consultancy and risk-analysis courses and this has began to increase their popularity.

So is this a fundamental shift in the higher education model?

Well although the more traditional universities are beginning to understand the changing dynamic away from the academic student learner to the student consumer, and therefore the need to change with the times, there is still a long way to go, especially in how such degree apprenticeship programmes will be structured.

Also the need for universities to meaningfully engage with employers will provide a real challenge for those institutions that havent been used to having to be “commercially facing”, and although a lot of them have developed good links with businesses in recent years there is more that will need to be done, especially in the development of courses with employer involvement.

It is also worth noting that in the UK we have often viewed apprenticeships as something inferior, the poor relation if you will to a university education but there is evidence now that that is changing. Major employers such as JCB, Ernst & Young and IBM are increasing their intake of apprenticeships. The JCB Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship for example has been designed for candidates who are passionate about studying Business Management at degree level whilst working within a highly successful global business and with a view to become a skilled JCB business professional.

If we think about this shift in the relationship between higher education and the workplace is not surprising. The old world of free education, the 11 plus, grammar school or comprehensive, technical college/polytechnic or university, old 5-7 year apprenticeship or Red Brick University degree is now a far cry away from what is required to succeed in a world of tuition fees, artificial intelligence, skills shortages, global competition and greater economic uncertainty.

However, it is exactly the reason that degree apprenticeships should develop and grow as a response to changing and more complex business world

For more information on how we can help in developing your training & development programmes contact the Leadership Team at

See FE News – Our Managing Director David Kitchen provides an insight on the current M&A activity within FE:




Training Businesses for Sale

March 2018


NORTH WEST                                                                                                                            REF: ALL/7/2018


ESFA Direct contract holder – Advanced Learning Loans -Contract Value £750,000

Plus Non Levy Contract £300k awarded from January 2018.


Sub-Contractor (ESF) – Contract Value c£500,000 to July 2018

Specialism – Construction


2017 Turnover £1.3m, Net Profit c £465,000

Projected for 2018: Turnover £1.8m Net Profit £800k (including ESF)





NORTH WEST                                                                                                                     REF: COMM/17/2017


Commercial Training Business – works with large construction employers £100,000 pm revenue


Sub-Contractor – ESF – Contract value to July 2018 c £500,000

Specialism – Construction/Plant


Projection: Business Turnover 2017/18 £1.5m, Net Profit £200,000




MIDLANDS                                                                                                                                REF: APP/33/2017


Prime Provider – £500k Non Levy Apprenticeship contract plus £200k Advanced Learner Loan contract (unused) with potential for increase this year.

Specialism H&SC L4 and L5


Business Turnover £1m, Net Profit £235,000







SOUTH EAST                                                                                                                               REF: ALL/37/2017


Construction provider with signed large levy client signed on an exclusive deal for 2018/19.


Healthy Levy pipeline.

No Direct Contracts

Business Turnover £1,500,000 Net Profit £225,000






NORTH WEST                                                                                                                      REF: ALL/39/2017


Beauty Academy with two high quality salons. On RoATP and experience of handling Advanced Learner Loans. Stable staffing.


Business Turnover £250,000 Net Profit £60,000






MIDLANDS                                                                                                                                 REF: APP/43/2017


ROTO and ROATP Company that owner no longer requires. No debt or future liabilities.










NORTH WEST                                                                                                                          REF: ESFA/49/2018


Management, H&SC and Child Care Provider.


Direct AEB, ALL and Non Levy contracts with ESFA.

Grade 2 Provider.


Great opportunity with Unutilised ALL contract.


Business Turnover £600,000 Net Profit £60,000


ASKING PRICE £240,000 – Owner looking for immediate retirement. UNDER OFFER




SOUTH EAST                                                                                                         REF: ALL/52/2017


Hair and Beauty Salon on ROTO and ROATP Main Provider.

No debts, staff or ongoing commitments.


Sale of Company with trading history.






NORTH WEST                                                                                                                           REF: SUB/54/2017


H&SC and Child Care provider.


On RoATP, Has Non Levy contract and good employer base.


Business Turnover £600,000 Net Profit £240,000







NORTH/MIDLANDS                                                                                                               REF: APP/07/2018


Prime Provider – £285k Non Levy Apprenticeship contract plus £165k AEB (both unused) with potential for increase this year.


Company established several years but have been fairly dormant over past 12 months. On ROTO and RoATP, Positive balance sheet


Business Turnover £80k Net Profit £12k








NORTH WEST                                                                                                                           REF: APP/12/2018


ROTO and RoATP Provider with Non Levy contract of £251k.


No delivery done yet.


Sale due to owner’s health


Turnover £335k

Net Profit £50k






SOUTH EAST                                                                                                                        REF: APP/15/2018


ROTO and RoATP provider with a current £600k Non-Levy sub contract to a college.







MIDLANDS                                                                                                                                 REF: APP/18/2018


Direct Contract holder – distressed sale


Non-Levy £700k (plus several sub contracts to the value of £800k)

Advanced Learner Loans £500k

Active Levy payers on board



Turnover £2m, recent losses has produced negative balance sheet of £200k


The company has debts of c £500k and is operating at below Grade 2 standard although no Ofsted visit has been made.


Needs turnaround of Operational delivery


ASKING PRICE £250k outright sale plus needs potential investment of £200k to pass upcoming RoATP refresh








NORTH WEST                                                                                                                              REF: LL/14/2017


* ESFA Direct contract holder – Advanced Learning Loans -Contract Value £750,000

Sub-Contractor – ESF – Contract Value c£500,000 to July 2018

Specialism – Construction


Business Turnover £1.2m, Net Profit c £450,000






NORTH WEST                                                                                                                     REF: COMM/17/2017


Commercial Training Business – works with large construction employers £100,000 pm revenue

*Sub-Contractor – ESF – Contract value to July 2018 c £500,000

Specialism – Construction/Plant


Projection: Business Turnover 2017/18 £1.5m, Net Profit £200,000




Read more

After the events of the last 6 months, where does it leave you and your training business, and what are your options?

You may have seen our recent piece in FE News –

The shambles of the last 6 months RoATP/ITT Tenders/Funding Allocations have left many providers in a precarious position.

It is a very worrying time for many Directors and Owners of training businesses. We know how painful this is and we are ready to help – we have vast experience in business management and turnarounds and believe that if you act quickly you can re-invent and REVIVE your business. We do have Chartered Accountancy capability within our team but this is so much more than Accountancy advice.

Project Revive from the Leadership Team will help you:

  • Explore your viability and future options as a business
  • Assess your capability and capacity to survive
  • Take a reality check on your financial position
  • Help with downsizing if necessary
  • Help you acquire, merge or partner with other companies if practical
  • Help you transform from being a Funding business into a Commercial Business, not reliant on future funding

If we do not think your company is viable or can survive we will advise you of the best way to close the business in an orderly fashion in your own time and with you in the driving seat.

There is no time to waste. Please call your Leadership Team contact or email for DAY 1 – The Diagnosis.

There is a lot of interest in buying and selling private training providers at this moment in time. Here are some of the providers we are working with that would consider a sale.

9/2017 – Apprenticeship Provider Midlands

Sub Contractor, £250k turnover

Wants to become part of a larger organisation


11/2017 – Prime Provider Midlands

Turnover £4m, Apprenticeships and Learner Loans


12/2017 – Advanced Learner Loan Provider – North

Turnover £600k

Also has Apprenticeship sub contracts

Opportunity for growth case on ALL contract


13/2017 Sub Contractor – North

£4.5m turnover – all sub contracts

Good mix of ESF, ALL, AEB and Apprenticeships


There are also 2 ROTO approved and 3 RoATP approved companies where little or no trading has taken place where the owners will consider a sale.


If you would like to express your interest in purchasing any of these businesses or would like us to list your business for sale please email our Managing Director David Kitchen

at and this will be treated in the strictest confidence.

The impact of the (unnecessary) RoATP process and the resultant pausing of the ITT tender raised a “common sense prevails” cheer from the ‘establishment’ of colleges and large contract holders. A ‘get out of jail free’ for many organisations who had not recognised the extent of the impending changes or adapted their business models to suit.

However, the contract extensions given for 2017 are less than expected and will still have a negative impact on those expecting apprenticeship growth.

Especially hard hit is a whole group of “sub-contractors” – ones that have built good businesses, ready for change, with excellent employer relationships and good data/quality systems that they have invested in ready to become ‘primes’ in their own right. Deferment of this contract is a real blow to this group of providers and could leave their businesses exposed to a considerable risk – quite possibly many of these good companies may go to the wall as a result.

Read more

As the Apprenticeship Levy is introduced it is clear that many of the 20,000 levy paying employers are not ready for this change. Only around 1% of these employers have registered for the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) which enables them to build their own in house academy utilising their Levy ‘pot’.

We are working with and helping many employers review their Training and Development Strategy and as a result mapping across the development to the relevant qualifications and standards.

We can then either help in the setting up of the in-house training and/or introduce quality training providers from our GOLD network.

We can also provide support for employers in managing their SFA requirements (data, audit, compliance) and OFSTED requirements through our experienced team of professionals.

One of the biggest events in the FE world is the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, which is being introduced in April 2017. All employers with a payroll in excess of £3m will have to make a contribution of 0.5% of payroll to pay for apprenticeship training.

Many employers are not yet ready for this and are ill prepared to take advantage of the opportunity it presents.

Surprisingly, the vast majority of training providers are also not ready to present an offer to those employers. There is a huge shift required from the past – spending a funding contract – to marketing, preparing the right offer, pricing, contract negotiations and delivery of bespoke employer requirements which is what will be required. This fundamental shift is not and has not been addressed by training providers and many lack the commercial experience to make this shift.

There is a massive amount of work to be done in a short amount of time. Whether you are an employer – levy payer or not – or a training provider, the Leadership Team can help you prepare for the Levy and ensure that you get it right.

CONTACT NOW on 0845 303 9517 or

Happy New Year 2017!

There is no easy way to say this but we believe that nearly 1,000 training providers will not make it to the end of 2017.
NOW is the time to act if you want to avoid FE-xit this year.

Don’t worry, we can help. We have worked with hundreds of providers over the past few years and have helped our clients both survive and achieve exceptional results. We can help you do the same.

The key areas where we can help you:

1. Strategy/Plan

Too many providers do not have a strategy, they constantly bounce from contract to contract which causes huge stress.

2. Direct Contracts

Helping you gain contracts in your own right but more importantly help you prepare to become a direct contract holder capable of both keeping and delivering to all stakeholders.

3. Common Inspection Framework

A large number of good providers are either lacking sufficient knowledge or are in denial about their capability to deliver against the CIF.

4. Financial Management

Poor management of cash-flow, loans, contracts, financial plans and monthly reporting are a major reason for failure. Getting this right can help you survive.

5. Commercial Revenues and contracts

The funding landscape changes dramatically in 2017 and you need to be more commercially aware than ever, negotiating prices and contracts with clients. This will be new territory for funded providers and will sink many organisations.

If you want to survive, stay relevant and prosper in a what is a rapidly changing environment The Leadership Team can help you every step of the way.

To make sure you survive FE-xit and are here next year, call us now on 0845 303 9517
 or mail: