Vocation chief Mark Hutchinson: Why I just bought Real Institute for $54 million

Training giant Vocation has continued its recent buying spree, acquiring national training provider Real Institute for $54 million.

In a deal announced yesterday, Vocation will acquire full control of Real Institute, including its 10,000 students and corporate clients such as Harvey Norman and General Pants Company.

With the training sector recently tipped to grow and change, the industry is now big business for providers.

Vocation chief executive Mark Hutchinson told SmartCompany the fundamental macroeconomic and policy settings underpinning the vocational education and training sector were robust.

“There is a demand for skills in the economy and there is a commitment to investing in education and training to support the demands of a changing labour market and workplace environment.”

Hutchinson says the acquisition was highly complementary to both training providers.

He says Real strengthened Vocation’s offering to students and their ability to connect learning to job outcomes.

“Real also further diversifies our enrolments and revenue mix, and strengthens our positions in the key geographies of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.”

Real was founded in 2007 and offers courses on customer service, manufacturing, sales and work health and safety, and its other high profile clients include United Parcel Services, Toll, HarperCollins and Dulux.

Real Institute founders Ross Robinson and Adam Cryer will continue to lead the business, bringing 20 years of combined experience.

Despite Vocation’s recent string of acquisitions, Hutchinson says organic growth was still a key driver for the business.

“I’m very confident that, with the benefit of the businesses we have acquired and the momentum in our existing businesses, Vocation is in great shape to continue to grow organically and deliver great outcomes for our students.

“There is a lot of opportunity for industry consolidation and we are in a strong position to participate. We said that we would do an acquisition this calendar year and we’ve actually done three.

“We have a very strong and clean balance sheet and significant financial capacity to pursue our strategic agenda.”

He says Vocation will be disciplined and measured and only seek to acquire businesses that represent a strong strategic fit, and meet its investment criteria.

The deal was funded by $40 million in cash from Vocation’s new $100 million secured debt facility and the rest in shares.

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