Bridges Fund Management has acquired apprenticeship provider Skills Training UK.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Bridges will tap capital from its Evergreen fund to purchase its majority stake in Skills Training UK, which has won numerous awards for its training and apprenticeship provision in recent years.

The investment in Skills Training UK follows Bridges’ ‘future skills’ investment theme, which is focused on shaping the workforce of the future, the mid-market buyout group said, citing how 80% of employers believe a skills shortage is damaging the UK’s competitiveness and hampering productivity.

Bridges’ takeover of Skills Training UK highlights private equity’s deepening appetite for UK-based apprenticeship providers. Estio Training, Lifetime Training, QA, Corndel and Learning Curve Group – to name a handful – are all backed by private equity.

Bridges said it had identified Skills Training UK as a takeover target in 2017, when carrying out thematic investment research.

Tom Biddle, Luke Edwards, Laura Noorani, Cristina Spiller and Kyle Bentwood worked on the transaction, under which Tom Biddle and Luke Edwards will join the board of Skills Training UK.

Biddle said: “We’re delighted that Skills Training UK has chosen to partner with Evergreen. It has an outstanding offering, run by an expert, highly experienced and well-connected team. The world of work is likely to change profoundly over the next decade, and it’s our conviction that this will result in increasing demand for the skills and employment opportunities that Skills Training UK provides.

“We are looking forward to drawing on our combined experience in this sector to support Skills Training UK’s continued growth, while utilising our impact management expertise to drive better outcomes for a broader range of learners and employers.”

Martin Dunford OBE, chief executive, Skills Training UK, said: “We wanted to find a funding partner who not only could help us achieve our growth ambitions but also shared our focus on creating real and genuine impact by delivering enhanced skills and outcomes for our employer and learner customers.

“Bridges clearly knows this sector well from previous investments within its Future Skills theme, and we felt Evergreen’s combination of patient capital and hands-on strategic support was the perfect fit for us. We’re excited at the opportunity to work together to continue to build the business and help more people access quality skills training and employment.”

Grant Thornton advised Skills Training UK.

Date published: 23 June 2021

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