Controversial vocational education broker Acquire Learning, chaired by former AFL head Andrew Demetriou, has gone into voluntary administration.
- Collapse not unexpected because the company’s website has been offline for months
- ACCC took legal action against company in 2015 for breaching consumer law
- Sanctions imposed against two brands owned by Acquire Learning in April
The corporate collapse is the latest in a string of failures following the Turnbull Government’s crackdown on the scandal-plagued sector.
The collapse is not unexpected because Acquire Learning’s website and social media accounts have been offline for months, the company has been shedding customers and there has been mass sackings of staff.
It leaves questions about the future of Acquire Learning’s major assets which include employment website Career One and two training providers Asia Pacific Training Institute and Franklyn Scholar.
Acquire Learning is also a sponsor of Carlton Football Club through Career One.
In 2015, Acquire Learning suffered a blow when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action against it for allegedly engaging in unconscionable conduct and breaching consumer law with its telemarketing sales.
The ACCC alleged in the Federal Court that Acquire paid its employees cash and prizes on the basis of how many students it signed up, and the judgement by the court is pending.
In August, the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed fresh claims that Acquire Learning was contacting unemployed people who signed up for job alerts with Career One and pressuring them into signing up for expensive vocational education courses.
Former police officer Patrick Maguire told 7.30 he signed up for a $20,000 Diploma of Business while looking for work because he was “preyed on” by a sales consultant who told him it was his golden ticket to getting a job.
At the time, Acquire Learning declined to be interviewed but in a statement said Mr Maguire had consented to being contacted about vocational education and had not incurred a student debt because he had unenrolled.
‘Hopefully other people won’t be targeted by them’
On Friday, Mr Maguire said he was relieved to hear Acquire Learning had gone into voluntary administration.
“Hopefully other people won’t be targeted by them,” he said.
Mr Maguire said despite speaking out about the company’s sales tactics on national television and warning jobseekers against using Career One, it continued to send him emails.
“I think its malicious, like a virus,” he said.
“Either that or it is a joke because it is beyond logical that they’re doing that.”
In April, sanctions were made against two Acquire brands by the regulator ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority) which cancelled the registration of the Asia Pacific Training Institute and removed all diploma level qualifications from Frankyln Scholar.
Acquire Learning’s Managing Director John Wall told The Australian newspaper the company had since sold the two training providers, but ASQA had not been notified of the change in ownership.
Administrator conducting investigation
The ABC has contacted Acquire Learning’s Managing Director John Wall for comment.
The voluntary administrator is restructuring firm Cor Cordis. In a statement, it said Career One would continue to operate, and Acquire Learning’s 40 employees would continue to be employed while it conducted its investigation.
“We will now commence a full investigation of the financial position of the group,” Cor Cordis partner Barry Wright said.
“We are not yet in a position to specify the reasons why the group has entered administration, but we note that the vocational training sector has gone through some well documented regulatory changes.”
A meeting of creditors will be held on May 24 in Melbourne.