NEARLY 100 Hampshire apprentices are facing uncertain futures today after a major learning provider went in to liquidation.
Apprenticeship Training Limited set up its new £500,000 college in Southampton just four months ago to help unemployed youngsters get into the building service industry.
But students who turned up at the converted school in Thornhill have been handed letters telling them the company is being wound up.
Mystery surrounds why the 20-year-old business is going in to voluntary liquidation and there has been no indication of how many jobs will be lost.
Around 90 young apprentices in Southampton – most aged between 16 and 19 – have been told they need to find new courses.
The Government body paying for their tuition, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), has vowed to help them find alternative training.
But one Hampshire teenager told the Daily Echo he was already struggling to enrol in colleges or find a company to take him on.
Taylor McFarlane is desperate to continue his training as a plumber but despite calling every company in the Yellow Pages, has been unable to find a company willing to take him on.
His mum Anita Crown, from Hedge End , was reduced to tears after finding out her son’s plans for the next two years had been left in tatters.
She said: “Taylor has been left high and dry – nobody has helped us at all. We just went in to the ATL building and all they did was hand us a letter.
“We have been given no help whatsoever. “I just think it’s disgusting that they have done this with such little notice.”
The centre opened in May offering courses in plumbing, electrics, gas installation, welding, building controls, renewable technology and general construction.
The college, at the former Hightown Secondary School site inn Burgoyne Road, was refurbished to include workshops, classrooms, exam suites and catering facilities.
Last night nobody was available for comment from the firm.
A letter handed to apprentices said: “Please do not worry about the completion of the remainder of your course as Skills Funding Agency have given a very firm assurance that they are going to transfer your tuition to an alternative provider and that your course will not be affected.”
A spokesman for the SFA and National Apprenticeship Service said: “The agency and NAS is aware that Apprenticeship Training Ltd has ceased trading.
“The agency and NAS are working with Apprenticeship Training Ltd to make sure learners are supported and transferred, where possible, to other local providers and to ensure public funds are protected.”
Any apprentices who have been affected can contact the agency’s relationship manager, Norma Landgraf, at Norma.Landgraf @skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk .
A separate company, ATL Practical Learning has said students of theirs who were using the centre would be found alternative training.
The firm used some of the facilities at Apprenticeship Training Limited’s Thornhill centre.
But they have vowed that the tuition of their own students “will not be in any way affected” by news of the voluntary liquidation.