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Training collapse hits IT staff

Bill Goodwin
IT workers have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after a training company that offered them the guarantee of a job or their money back announced it could no longer afford to continue in business.

Cheshire-based Cerco Training, which promised its customers a £200 refund for every month they remain out of work, is the latest victim of the slowdown in IT spending, which has seen a succession of training companies forced to close or merge with rivals.

Cerco, which was accredited with the Institute for IT Training, has left between 20 and 40 IT professionals who paid for a six-week course in network systems engineering £4,000-£5,000 out of pocket.

A significantly higher number of people were relying on the firm's careers service to find them work with companies such as Fujitsu Services, which had close links with Cerco. They now face an uncertain future.

"I feel incredibly angry," said Ian Rutter, an IT professional retraining after a career break. "They never mentioned anything. They were promising us that Fujitsu had 100 jobs waiting for Cerco students. They were throwing Fujitsu at us left right and centre."

Three former servicemen are among those to have lost money they paid to Cerco, which was regularly used by the army for retraining soldiers for civilian life.

Heather Small, an analyst at Ovum Holway, said, "To be offering guarantees with training is a very dangerous proposition because there are not many jobs in the industry. Training is in a very rough situation."

Ovum has predicted a reduction of 15% in IT training this year, as companies with high fixed costs struggle in a declining market.

Rival training firm JBC Computers has offered to complete the training and find work for students who have been left in the lurch by the closure of Cerco.

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