People 1st, once a major sector skills council and a key player in the apprenticeship reforms, has entered administration, in what observers describe as a “stunning blow for the retail, hospitality and travel industries in the apprenticeship system.”
The employment and learning consultancy charity confirmed that it has been placed into the hands of administrator FRP Advisory.
The withdrawal of government funding for sector skills councils six years ago is understood to be the main contributing factor, following which it “had to rely on its reserves whilst transforming itself”, according to accounts filed with Companies House for the year to 31 March 2017.
It recorded revenue of £4.3m for the year and delivered a loss £465,000. In the report it said “the board is confident that the three-year strategic business plan currently being enacted will result in its reserves being replenished by over £500,000” by March 2020.
It added: “There has never been a more challenging time to be dealing with people matters in the hospitality and tourism sector.”
UKHospitality Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls said: “This is unfortunate news for the sector and everyone involved with People 1st. First and foremost, our sympathies are with everyone at People 1st and we appreciate the very valuable work they have been doing for the hospitality sector.
“This now throws into sharp relief the extremely pressing need for skills to be prioritised as part of a sector deal for UK tourism, of which the hospitality sector is a crucial part. In the meantime, we need a Brexit immigration policy that will give the sector time to address its skills and labour needs.
“UKHospitality is ready and able to step in to the gap and provide support in any way we can, to provide some continuity until a permanent solution is found. Above all, the Government needs to be aware of the dire situation and ensure that its future actions do not undermine the development of skills in the sector and put the country’s valuable hospitality businesses at a disadvantage.”