ACT acquires respected training arm of Acorn

19 Jan 2018 News Company

Leading training provider ACT has acquired Acorn Learning Solutions, the training arm of leading recruitment agency Acorn. This union sees both highly-respected and high-performing training providers bring together existing strengths and specialisms to offer a broad and high quality portfolio of apprenticeships and skills training solutions to thousands of employers.

Since 2016, ACT has been a member of the Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) Group, a partnership that created the country’s largest work-based learning provider and a skills powerhouse for the Cardiff Capital Region, for Wales and beyond. The addition of Acorn Learning Solutions further increases capacity for apprenticeships, traineeships, professional qualifications and accredited training; strengthening the Group’s ability to effectively meet the growing skills requirements of employers throughout the region.

The award-winning Newport-based Acorn Learning Solutions, formerly part of the Acorn Group, employs 60 people and delivers apprenticeships and skills training solutions to over 1,200 businesses across Wales and England. It specialises in areas such as leadership, insurance and financial services, IT professional, data analytics, project management and contact centres across Wales and England.

Under this new partnership Acorn Learning Solutions will continue to operate as a separate company to ACT, and under the new brand, ALS. The rebranded ALS team will move from Acorn’s head office at Somerton House in Newport to ACT’s head office at Ocean Park House in Cardiff.

The team will be led by Acorn Learning Solutions’ two former directors; Sarah John, Commercial Director (Learning & Development), and Helena Williams, Corporate Development Director (Learning & Development). They will be supported by ACT’s Managing Director, Richard Spear, who will chair a newly-formed Board for ALS. All employers and individuals currently working with Acorn Learning Solutions have been contacted to inform that business continues as usual, with individuals and employers retaining the same contacts and the same high quality service with the ALS team. A brand new website for ALS is soon to be launched www.alstraining.org.uk, and the new main telephone number 029 2267 7020 is now live.

ACT is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is a well-established provider with 390 employees and 12 training centres across South and Mid Wales, and a network of 19 sub-contractors delivering apprenticeships, traineeships and professional qualifications to thousands of employers.

A lead provider of training and apprenticeships for the Welsh Government, ACT delivers dynamic training packages designed to meet the needs of young people and employers across over 30 different industry sectors.

The addition of ALS to ACT and the Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) Group will further support the joined-up development of vocational training across the region in line with the Welsh Government’s employability skills agenda. The union will also enhance the scale and capabilities of the Group to increase the number of young apprentices, address skills shortages, develop higher-level skills and develop skills pathways.

Andrew Cooksley, Chief Executive Officer at ACT said: “I am very excited to be bringing together two of the best training providers in Wales. With our mutual commitment to vocational training and shared professional values, the two teams will provide greater capacity and flexibility to champion vocational training and provide opportunities to grow high quality skills training into the future.

“Importantly our partnership puts us in the best position to make sure that we are upskilling young people and existing workforces to prepare the economy for a post-Brexit future.

“I am thrilled that ALS, a team full of likeminded individuals, who share our passion and enthusiasm for high-quality vocational training, has joined ACT, and I warmly welcome them to our family."

Sarah John, Commercial Director at ALS, who is also Chair of The National Training Federation Wales (NTfW) and has recently been appointed as a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), said: “We are delighted to be coming together to form a dynamic partnership with ACT focused on growing and improving the skills sector. Not only will existing clients gain from our partnership in terms of efficiency, service and support but the move will also open up a world of opportunity to collaborate on growth projects. Together we will create an incredibly strong presence in the market and we are very much looking forward to this exciting new chapter.”

Mike James, Chief Executive of the Cardiff and Vale College Group said: “The Cardiff Capital Region is home to vibrant and ambitious businesses and continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the UK. Our region needs a strong, cohesive, informed and responsive skills offer that truly supports businesses and the economy of our region. We also need to work hard to continue to invest in and increase opportunities for individuals and communities.

“I am delighted to see ALS joining ACT and the CAVC Group, and look forward to working collaboratively to drive forward our shared vision to grow opportunities, invest and further the pipeline of skilled talent needed to meet the future needs of employers across the region”.

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