The HCT Group Learning Centre has closed

After 25 years working in our communities, the HCT Group Learning Centre has closed.  Over that time, the Learning Centre has helped many thousands of people to gain the skills and confidence they needed to get and keep jobs – most of whom were long term unemployed and faced significant barriers to getting work.  We’re really proud of what our learners have achieved.   

The Learning Centre has always faced challenges and uncertainty in delivering its mission. At a national level, funding for the type of programmes that the Learning Centre provides has declined by around two-thirds since 2003. Added to this, the way funding for these programmes is organised has changed frequently over that time, requiring constant change and adaptation. 

That the Learning Centre has achieved so much in this environment is a testament to the passion and determination of the Learning Centre team – and the many outstanding partner organisations we have worked with.  However, with a significant funding shortfall likely to continue, we have had no alternative but to close the Learning Centre – particularly with COVID-19 adding further uncertainty.

The Learning Centre leaves a remarkable legacy. It was founded by HCT Group in 1995 to train people who were long term unemployed as bus drivers and passenger assistants for our transport services. These programmes have provided a generation of our HCT Group colleagues – many of whom are still with the organisation today.

The Learning Centre soon broadened its offer to help tackle the blight of long-term unemployment in our communities, introducing non-transport programmes. Over the years, the Learning Centre provided courses in everything from training for work in health and social care, customer service, education – even fashion design –all with the extra support learners needed to gain employment. 

“The closure of the Learning Centre is a sad day for all of us” said Lynn McClelland, HCT Group Chief Executive. “However, the decline in funding has made it unavoidable.”

“The work of the Learning Centre has been genuinely life-changing for thousands of people.  I would like to pay tribute to the committed team who made that possible – and to all the learners who worked to achieve their potential.” 

“The work that the Learning Centre set out to do still needs doing. Too many people in our communities still need access to skills and support to achieve their potential.  We hope that, in the future, the circumstances will be right for us to look again at providing these programmes.”