Case study: Trade Skills 4U

22-01-2024

Positively impacting career prospects in electrical training – Trade Skills 4U provides a range of electrical courses for individuals who have little or no electrical knowledge and want to become fully qualified electricians with a focus on the adult training market and attracts people looking to upskill or retrain in an environment that suits their needs.

Backing professional hands-on training – Carl Bennett established Trade Skills 4U in 2004 after a brain tumour forced his retirement from special police unit SO19. Having had first-hand experience of professional hands-on training, Carl applied the same principles at Trade Skills 4U to ensure his team delivered the same quality training.

We wanted to partner with Trade Skills 4U, as it was a growing business with a strong and passionate management team looking to make a positive and meaningful social impact. We were keen to support them in opening up career opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

In 2017 we invested £3.8m, and Palatine team members Beth Houghton and Matt Coles joined the board as Non-Executive Directors.

Going for growth with added value

New Centre Roll-Out – TS4U expanded its national footprint by opening two new training centres in Leeds and Coventry during the investment period. This established the business as the largest electrical training provider in the UK. We supported the team in professionalising the site selection and roll-out process.

Apprenticeship & NVQ Programme Development – We worked with the business to develop NVQ & Apprenticeship capabilities. In both these programmes, students could be supported by government funding. Through our experience in the education sector, we were able to help the business develop the necessary compliance functions required to become an approved provider of apprenticeship funding.

Existing Centre Growth – We worked with the business to increase capacity at the existing sites by developing a blended learning offering, allowing students to learn virtually and reducing in-person learning. TS4U has built internal capability with a dedicated content development team.

Successful People Strategy – We invested significantly in the senior team as the business transitioned from an owner/founder-led business to a professionalised and scalable platform. An experienced Chairperson, FD and Marketing Director were recruited, together with an experienced apprenticeship manager to lead the new apprenticeship programme. The new senior members added significant strength and depth to the team. 

ESG – TS4U strengthened its health and safety management through improved staff training and a dedicated health and safety system to support compliance and best practice. Formal teacher training initiatives were also implemented, together with the introduction of clear career progression routes.

A quality department was set up to ensure high standards were met, with customer satisfaction rates above 90%. The introduction of blended learning also gave students more flexibility and reduced travel emissions.

TS4U also sponsored a children’s football club and a women’s rugby team to support the local community and promote the industry to women.

Returns with purpose – We exited the business in 2022 in a sale to City & Guilds. During our investment, the number of students completing career-changer courses each year has more than doubled since 2017, resulting in thousands of students having their career prospects positively impacted.

 

Over the last five years it has been a pleasure to work with the Impact team at Palatine with whom we’ve shared a learner-centric approach to growth, always prioritising the outcomes we can deliver. Their support and commitment has made this a rewarding and enjoyable journey.

Carl Bennett

Founder and CEO of Trade Skills 4U