Derby

Collapsed Derby-based training firm Aspire Achieve Advance wound up

3aaa sign
Image caption About 3,000 apprenticeship training places and about 500 jobs are at risk

A training firm that collapsed after having government funding withdrawn has gone into liquidation.

Aspire Achieve Advance (3aaa) ceased trading last week when the Department for Education (DfE) axed its contract following an investigation.

More than 3,000 apprenticeship training places and about 500 jobs across the UK have been lost at the Derby-based firm.

At the High Court, the company asked to be "wound up as soon as possible" to avoid further costs.

3aaa had been referred to police by the DfE which passed on its findings through Action Fraud.

The DfE said it had to take action after uncovering "serious wrong-doing".

Image caption Apprentices who had lost places have been offered a helpline by Derby College to find alternative training

It is the second time the DfE decided to investigate 3aaa. In 2016, the government's Skills Funding Agency (SFA) commissioned an investigation into the claims of whistleblowers.

But the firm's ex chairman, Derek Mapp, said it was "scandalous" that £2m of public funds was suddenly pulled from the firm.

He said a more orderly wind-down would have safeguarded employees and apprentices.

A spokeswoman for the DfE said: "We're making good progress in identifying new employers for the 3aaa employees who were also apprentices.

"We took the action we did because of serious wrong-doing."

Barrister Gunner Shulte, for the company, told the judge: "It is desirable, so that further costs may be avoided, that the company be wound up as soon as possible."

A spokesperson for the Official Receiver said: "We can confirm that Aspire Achieve Advance Limited entered into compulsory liquidation.

"Five hundred and six employees are affected and the government's Redundancy Payment Service is on hand to support former employees."

The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of the company.

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