5 December 2017Tweet Follow @TrainXUK
Topics ADDED DAILY include: Agile | PRINCE2 | .NET / C# | SQL | Train the Trainer
We suggest that you read the entire article - all of the material is public domain its easy to review it for yourself:
QA have recently moved their major ownership 'offshore' to Jersey and in the prelude some enormous sums of money have been moving around between their group of companies.
The Jersey company, INDIGOCYAN HOLDINGS JERSEY LIMITED and now major shareholder, is brand new and surely formed to allow efficient tax management and for private equity money to flow into and out of, the group.
QA pride themselves on 'trust' yet surely 'moving' to Jersey, grey-listed by the EU on 5th December 2017, puts the onus on them to explain the benefit and importantly, the new risk to their customers.
QA have taken on massive debt with loans to offset this: £93,736,270 in June 2016, as one example. The costs of this are being carried straight to their customers - 11.7% price hike!
QA purchased Focus on Training, a reseller / broker, in 2016 and have continued its operation. There's no clear indication of this on Focus's website aside from the Rath House registered office address. The QA site does describe the association within their website hierarchy.
|Focus on Training*||PRINCE2:2017 Foundation and Practitioner||30 Apr 2018||Manchester, Oxford Street||£1089.00|
|QA||PRINCE2:2017 Foundation and Practitioner||30 Apr 2018||Manchester, Oxford Street||£2141.00|
* 'Focus on Training', when used in this article, is the trading name of: Focus Project Management (Europe) Limited: Company 5702441, wholly owned by the QA 'group'. FOCUS ON TRAINING LIMITED Company 09561373 are an entirely separate entity with no association to QA.
The prices are from their respective websites on 4/12/2017 and are not listed as part of any marketing 'deals'.
Delivery costs of IT courses have fallen dramatically over the last decade - PCs for example are relatively much cheaper and many of the 'hands-on' exercises are now cloud hosted and have barely any set-up or high-end equipment costs.
In spite of this QA's prices have continuously risen above inflation while they've kept Focus on Training's prices at a large percentage lower. Here's an example:
Much of the information on this page showed up while we researched the 'star ratings' on both QA and Focus on Training's websites after we'd seen their very poor quality classroom PPC advertising. Here's the article:
QA are partnered with key technology companies who naturally develop their business and brand with the ideals of value and integrity as drivers.
For example, Google have appointed QA as their UK Premier Partner to deliver authorised Google Cloud Platform. Google have Adwords, if they had exactly the same product costing 50% or less the price, call it BehindYourBackWords, they'd be a huge debate - QA's back-door i.e. 'Focus on Training' is a parallel situation.
QA provide services and gain revenue from the UK Government's Apprenticeship Scheme - apprentices should expect an ethical provider and from the leading UK training provider, exemplary behaviour. The profits from this scheme, some funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, are potentially going into the Jersey company.
A number of leading universities are partnering with QA and each of these surely strives for integrity:
Focus on Training, part of the same 'Group' as QA, have been promoting courses using an image of a very poorly equipped classroom with clear Fire Safety issues for the last few months. Here's the article:
QA provide training for apprentices and have particular obligations in regard to their safety.
The Competition and Markets Authority state that a product should be as described. The training room shown in Focus on Training's advert is clearly of poor quality and some learners have insufficient room, hardly a 4.9 out of 5 experience.
Importantly the fire exit is obstructed as is the view of the exit sign - this may be an exit for the entire building and could impede safe exit.
The projector screen, clearly placed within the circulation space for the escape route is plastic and likely to be combustible with a potential to increase the fire loading. The situation shown shouldn't happen and very possibly a Fire Risk Assessment has not been made. Other serious problems could exist:
Learners attending the course shown in the advertisement and anyone else attending the same centre should demand a full refund based on the fire safety and room quality issues.
In addition, anyone who's made a purchase on the basis of the 'star ratings' used by QA or Focus on Training should contact them for a refund as they are incomplete and misleading.
The QA Director's Report freely available at Companies House describes, in broad terms, that the company expects to maintain its customer base and continue with its high profit sales in the current economic climate. That it has significant debt that is not repayable in the foreseeable future (being at least 12 months) that will be covered by private equity backing with security from a national bank. There are no specific references to the real risks of:
Any of the above could seriously affect QA's capacity over a twelve month period (Brexit in particular is not a quantified risk) - reducing the viability of 'Training Passports' or their ability to perform as a 'Preferred Supplier'.
There are references to:
* You would hope that this would be negligible given that QA's Account Managers should proactively help NHS etc. purchasers realise their investment and wastage shouldn't be part of their revenue strategy. For this reason alone it makes sense to avoid year long training passports never mind having to defend the action of placing public money into a Jersey bank account while Brexit is in full flow.
Large 'Training Passports' purchases are the sales person ideal as they often receive very substantial bonuses. Even in 2000, Remarc in Leeds paid out one bonus of £20,000 for winning a contract to train Halifax Building Society IT staff. The recipient was a 24 year old new starter salesperson who used it wisely as a deposit on a five bedroom student house to rent out. There are better uses for public money and there needs to be careful management.
QA have commission based staff but also handout £300,000 to other staff - sufficient for the salaries of 12 NHS Nurses. There is a chance that a NHS 'training passport' results in bonus payments and then the purchase is not fully utilised, generating further profit!
QA are the UK's largest IT and Professional training provider and in business terms something of a 'gorilla'. This may give them a level of crebility but very little of their product line is unique which is a weakness and in many ways they are simply a facilitator and an increasingly expensive one.
Other large providers with similar porfolios are:
There a numerous providers who are able to scale to meet the demands of multiple simultaneous events running across the UK and at much lower prices that QA demands.
Trainers train people and the best of them are often self-employed. QA contract with freelance trainers from the same pool as other providers. Freelance trainers often have more development time and are provided with materials directly from source, e.g. Microsoft Certified Trainers receive all Microsoft's learning materials. Often the trainers will be involved in contracts, advisory panels and so on, building their knowledge and skills.
Microsoft, for example, have recognised the potential of trainers directly providing training through their MAPS program. Flexible, on-demand expert training avoiding the scheduling constraints and costs of a provider with account managers and public schedules to populate. QA have nearly three support and administrative staff to everyone trainer, a huge overhead.
For PRINCE2, AXELOS have very wisely kept a diverse base of ATOs who can provide training and examinations at scale and with great flexibility. Why fit in with a five day PRINCE2 when it can be split over a few weeks, provided in combinations including half day sessions, evenings, weekends or in a blended delivery.
Quality hotel training facilities are at or beyond the quality of many seemingly bespoke facilities as the hotels are in constant competition and conferences are lucrative - driving up quality.
Should there be a need to impress, then a training provider can simply hire out somewhere like etc.venues County Hall with its views and superb facilities createing their own temporary 'flag ship' without the millstone of multi-million pound loans to fund long term leases for somewhere like the St Katherine Docks site etc.
Charging the same price for a course at such a facility as is done for say the very pedestrian, aptly named, Brown Lane West training centre on a Leeds industrial estate is hardly spreading the love.
What about IT infrastructure? It may not be needed for many of the 'Best Practice' courses but the days of clunky PCs in baskets strung under desks has gone. IT is portable - high end laptops, maybe with additional monitors connected to cloud hosted labs are elegant and don't need bespoke facilities.
Similar previous companies such as Informatics CTEC, the 'QA' of the 1990's/2000 era have vanished, things change.
QA deliver 'Best Practice' training and certification and you'd hope they'd apply what they teach to their own business.
As a example, there's a case study on the QA site regarding training for BAE. Its insightful in regard to how training can be optimised and yet there's very little carry over of the ideas into QA's public offering.
TrainX provide authorised training at much lower pricing - often 50% cheaper - than major providers including QA.
We've the highest UK pass rates for PRINCE2® and AgilePM and the most competitive pricing for Microsoft, CompTIA, plus!
Contact us now for further details and to discuss your learning goals.
We shouldn't need to but after a good deal of thought, its clear that the details above need to be common knowledge. All of the information is public domain, either from the companies own websites or advertising campaigns or from government websites.
QA as the UK's largest single provider should take an ethical view and lead by good example. The information available shows that they fall far short on this count.
Someone attending an overly priced, cramped and in particular unsafe training event isn't going to jump to attend the next one. This affects all the decent, reasonably priced and customer focused training providers in the UK. The UK is a leading service provider exporting its ideas, think of PRINCE2, ITIL, AgilePM as examples, to the wider world and if its major provider can't lead then we all lose. Healthy competition builds markets and lets true comparisons be made. Misrepresentation doesn't achieve anything for anyone in the end.
Finally, we all get things wrong and hindsight is a wonderful thing BUT any company that takes a view that services purchased in good faith by NHS and local government procurement officers should be a source of profit BECAUSE of known inefficiencies in the process should make redress by repaying the amount in full and in the meantime, hang their heads in shame.
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