Fears for training centre after minister pulls funds

The Learndirect training centre in Wigan
The Learndirect training centre in Wigan

A Wigan training centre is facing an uncertain future after the Government pulled the national agency’s contracts and funds.

Adult training provider Learndirect has been banned from taking on new apprentices and will have all money going to it from Westminster stopped by next July, the Department for Education (DfE) has said.

Learndirect currently has a base at Wigan Investment Centre, having opened a new centre at an address on Upper Dicconson Street in Swinley in 2010.

The Wigan team could not field any inquiries about the latest developments yesterday, telling the Wigan Post all questions had to go through the press office.

But a Learndirect spokesman said: "Learndirect Limited’s underlying business remains stable and we continue to be focused on supporting our learners as usual. We continue in Wigan to deliver Adult Education Budget and European Social Fund contracts with confirmed funding until July 2018."

But the Government announcement could throw Wiganers’ plans to study through the provider into jeopardy. Only last month the Wigan Post reported that the North West Skills Academy had been given a Learndirect contract to provide level 2 NVQ on-site assessments to around 1,000 people working in the construction industry.

Learndirect has also previously been able to help local people turn their lives around, with Atherton resident Steven Brown hitting the headlines in 2014 after receiving assistance to become a self-employed gardener.

The provider is thought to have given contradictory comments to the national media on its financial position, with reports claiming that DfE funding would force Learndirect into administration but a spokesman also being quoted as saying the organisation had other funding sources.

The company, which was privatised by David Cameron in 2011, was recently heavily criticised in a report by inspection watchdog Ofsted.

The full report was being released today after court proceedings by Learndirect to attempt to suppress its findings failed.

Media who were in the court hearing to decide whether the report should be published or not have said Ofsted has rated Learndirect inadequate.

Following the hearing a public war of words broke out between the two, with Ofsted vigorously defending its processes against strongly-worded attacks from Learndirect saying the report did not give a true indication of its work.