The new trend in the Learning Business

by Peter J. Bates,
pjb Associates, UK

The CRT Group is not really a household name in the traditional education world although it is better known in the IT training and recruitment field. However, its chief executive Karl Chapman seems to be set to change that image. Speaking at the "Interactive Learning 96" conference in Edinburgh in mid August, he clearly sees that a recognised brand name and offering a wide variety of services is the way forward for the learning business.

The CRT Group was established in December 1989 with the aim to exploit the opportunities presented by the recruitment and training sectors. CRT observed that the market was typically fragmented and was served by small, privately owned companies. They also saw that there was substantial benefits to be gained by having a company spanning both the training and recruitment sectors.

There are now four subsidiaries of the CRT Group.

"Link Training" has 650 employees in over 100 training centres throughout the UK. Services include vocational education and training in retail distribution; and IT business training in purchasing and sales. It provides training for many UK high street names like Boots, Gateway, HMV, Next, Miss Selfridge and River Island.

"Pitman Training" is a leading computer and office training company with over 40 branded Pitman Training Centres operating mainly on a franchise basis.

"Software Personnel" is a leading IT contract and permanent recruitment agency dealing with over 100 blue-chip companies in the UK and other parts of the world.

"CRT Multimedia" is still the baby of the group but already is an international developer and publisher of leading based interactive CD-ROM titles for the consumer and corporate markets. They have also trade marked "ITMS" their Intelligent Training Management System. It provides training managers with administration, licence management and company wide feedback on the progress of training across the organisation at any moment in time. It will also operate as effectively on a high speed wide area network as on multiple stand alone systems in open learning centres.

The group recently announced a turnover of 103.3m. But of more interest, the Group has just announced that it has secured the 109m backing of Education Technology, a US learning and technology group which has a strategy to build leading companies that participate in technology and learning. Education Technology was formed in January 1996 by Michael Milken, the former US junk-bond market king, and Larry Ellison the CEO of Oracle which has recently hit the headlines with the Network Computer (see the lead story in issue 8).

The CRT Group is one of a number of organisations which is beginning to pull together a number of assets in order to position itself for learning on the superhighway. Other organisations have yet to "go public" but they do include well-known brand names. The CRT Group, not too well known in the traditional education world, is starting to position itself carefully.

CRT Multimedia already has established a number of multimedia learning centres in schools in the UK. And Karl Chapman already has become something of an evangelist in the UK calling for the recreation of the golden age of educational excellence with a generation of technology-literate teachers and pupils. Now with over 100m for the CRT Group to spend on new assets and acquisitions he and the group are worth watching.

More information about the CRT Group can be found at: and for CRT Multimedia at:

Issue 10 "Learning in a Global Information Society" 2 September 1996