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Learners left unable to work as training provider goes off the rails

Dozens of learners have been waiting for months for railway training after the collapse of provider Amber Train

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Dozens of learners have been waiting for months for railway training after the collapse of provider Amber Train

More than 70 learners trained to work in the rail industry have been left unable to gain employment in the sector following the collapse of a training provider found to have used unqualified tutors.

The affected students completed a personal track safety course delivered by Amber Train, a training provider owned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), equipping them with the so-called “competences” required to work on the UK rail network.

Tes understands that these included former prisoners trained under a contract operated by the LTE Group – the UK’s largest college group, which includes The Manchester College – which had subcontracted the provision to Amber Train.

However, the provider went into liquidation in July, meaning that 77 learners lost their competences. In effect, this means they no longer hold a valid “Sentinel card”, which is needed for work in the rail industry.

In January, Amber Train was suspended by Network Rail at the request of the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) – the independent auditors of training and assessment for the rail industry – “due to the use of unassured/untrained trainers”. The academy said that it had sought reassurances from Amber Train that the individuals affected would be able to regain their competences. But, five months on from Amber Train being liquidated, the individuals affected have not been offered any support back into training, Tes understands.

'Historical practices'

Rod Clark, chief executive of the Prisoners’ Education Trust, said: “To hear that people who invested their time and hope in this course have been let down in this way, so close to Christmas, is appalling. There needs to be immediate work to offer supplementary training that ensures they can keep existing jobs or find new ones.”

The IMechE acquired Amber Train through its trading subsidiary, PEP Ltd, in November 2015. In a statement, IMechE said: “In the last few months we have uncovered historical practices undertaken by some individuals at Amber Train that have given rise to claims against the company. As a consequence, we have put Amber Train Ltd into liquidation and Leonard Curtis has been appointed as liquidator.” The LTE Group declined to comment.

A Department for Education spokesperson said that, according to funding rules, “lead providers remain responsible for all of the provision they subcontract”.

In July another rail training provider, UKRS Training, was removed from the register of apprenticeships training providers after Tes informed the DfE that it was subject to an ongoing fraud investigation. A police spokesman says the individuals arrested have been released under investigation.

This is an edited version of an article in the 22 December edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full story hereTo subscribe, click hereTo download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click hereTes magazine is available at all good newsagents

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