Back2Work Group, the leading, national adult learning and pre-employment training provider has acquired Just IT Training, a provider of IT and digital apprenticeships and skills ‘boot camps’, based in London. 

Manchester-based Back2Work secured significant investment from Palatine’s Impact fund in late 2020 and Just IT Training represents their first strategic acquisition in the training sector.   

Founded in 2001 by Simon Perriton, Just IT Training is a leading apprenticeship provider in the UK and works with clients such as Sainsbury’s, National Rail, Google and public sector organisations, such as the NHS and Bank of England. With annual revenues of more than £8m, the acquisition brings scale and significant synergies to Back2Work, adding in excess of 100 staff and taking annual revenues to more than £20m for the first time. 

Back2Work specialises in delivering intensive training courses to help the long-term unemployed return to work, retrain or reskill. On the back of a number of key long-term contract wins to deliver pre-employment training for the devolved Combined Authorities, the business now supports more than 10,000 people with training every year.  

Luke Muscat, co-founder and Managing Director of Back2Work Group said: “This acquisition is a big moment for us and we are excited to welcome the Just IT team into the Group. 

“Just IT has a fantastic reputation in London and the South East, excellent clients and crucially a similar culture and dedication to the highest standards of training and development as ourselves. 

“As a business with social impact at its heart, the acquisition will enable us to reach more learners, improve communities by helping more long-term unemployed back into work and continue to ease the pressure of labour shortages in important sectors of the economy.”

James Gregson, Impact Fund Partner at Palatine said: “Just IT Training has been on our radar for some time – it’s an excellent business and an ideal fit for Back2Work. As well as adding to its geographical presence in London and the South East, importantly it brings great clients and significant expertise in apprenticeships, recruitment and the provision of intensive skills boot-camp courses. 

“Palatine has a strong track record of supporting follow on acquisitions within our portfolio and Just IT Training represents the first for Back2Work, significantly expanding its apprenticeship offering nationally. We look forward to supporting the business in making further acquisitions over the coming years.” 

Simon Perriton, Founder of Just IT Training said: “Over the last 6 months we have been working together with Back2Work on the future of Just IT/Skills Team and are very clear about our mutual ambitions. As we look to the future, myself and The Board felt it was the right time to evolve the ownership model to support ongoing investment into our business and our growth nationally and this transaction will allow us to compete on larger business opportunities together. 

“Back2Work and Just IT/Skills Team share mutual values, and a great sense of energy and optimism for the future which has made discussions both energising and exciting. The combined companies will offer valuable services to a wider range of companies and people that will make a real impact.  There is a lot to look forward to!” 

Palatine’s Impact Fund, which is committed to delivering returns with purpose, invested in Back2Work in October 2020. The fund, the first to be raised in the UK mid-market, invests £5m to £20m in commercially driven businesses with a mission to positively impact on society or the environment. 

Palatine was advised by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance (Peter Terry, Victoria Giles, Cariad Lightfoot and Amy Huddleston), Cortus Transaction Services (Jenny Quinn and Dan Gallagher) and Pinsent Masons (James Skivington).  

Cariad Lightfoot, Associate Director in Grant Thornton’s Corporate Finance team, said: “Just IT’s experience in the IT and tech apprenticeship and training space is a fantastic addition to Back2Work’s current offering, and the combined business is well-placed to move into the next stage of its growth story. This deal will play an important role in enabling the business to continue to upskill and support thousands of individuals every year.

“We are seeing an increased appetite for deals with a clear social impact and look forward to seeing Back2Work continuing to flourish under Palatine’s investment.”