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Learndirect responds to National Apprenticeship Reforms with a customised Totara Learn platform

Learndirect was founded in 2000 and is the UK’s largest provider of skills, training and employment services transforming the lives of 4.5 million people in the UK to date.

The Challenge

As one of the UK’s leading apprenticeship providers, learndirect work with 6,000 employers each year and support around 23,000 apprentices.

In April 2017, the Government National Apprenticeship Reforms imposed an apprenticeship levy of 0.5% on wage bills in excess of £3 million. As a consequence, the training sector is undergoing major structural changes for all training suppliers, not least learndirect as one of the largest such suppliers in the UK.

Learndirect viewed these changes as an opportunity for internal change within the company including reviewing and upgrading their online delivery systems with a new LMS. They faced several key challenges, including:


  • An outdated LMS
    Even prior to the National Apprenticeship Reforms, the LMS learndirect were using was:

    • an inflexible and heavily customized system
    • not scalable
    • cumbersome and over-complicated for future requirements
  • A tight deadline
    A new LMS would have to be implemented in a tight deadline due to upcoming contractual renewal/expiry dates with existing suppliers. The sector and company structural changes added further complications as the project had to stay on track within a rapidly changing environment.
  • Resource
    learndirect were aware that they could only provide limited staffing resource which could impact the need to maintain continuity of provision for existing learners.
The Solution

Webanywhere worked with learndirect to identify Totara Learn as a flexible LMS with the ability to scale up to cope with the apprenticeship demand. The benefits of Totara Learn (version 2.9 at the time) for this project included:

  • Individualized learning plans to manage staff development and ongoing performance
  • A hierarchical structure, allowing managers to review and monitor their team’s learning
  • Sophisticated themes to incorporate and reflect brand and culture
  • Advanced reporting features that allow for in depth MI
  • Total classroom management and learner self service portals
  • Role-based competency structure that links with learning resources and courses



The new and branded LMS provided a solid structure and framework for learndirect’s future online delivery. This included not only the LMS itself but also custom dashboards and reports to assist their staff.

Furthermore, Webanywhere took on the development and configuration of the learning programmes within the new LMS to enable the migration of learners from learndirect’s old system. Webanywhere provided further assistance with the transfer of content from existing courses on the old LMS.

The key deliverables for this project were:

  • Totara Learn to deliver apprenticeship qualifications
  • Webex plugin
  • Branded theme
  • User sync via CSV
  • Enrolment via CSV
  • Manager/learner sync via CSV
  • Learner/cohort sync
  • Organizations set up
  • 2 Programmes set up (1 time led, 1 learner led) using learndirect content
  • Forums for social learning
  • Face to face for classroom bookings
  • Reports set up
  • Admin users only able to view data within their own organization
The Results

The results of this implementation for learndirect were staggering. Firstly, the cost – the entire Totara Learn implementation cost the same as just one month’s cost of their previous service, leading to significant savings.

Secondly, two brand new maths and English modules were developed from scratch and on schedule for their planned delivery dates, giving learndirect some great new content to work with.

Three months into the project, the Totara Learn solution was delivered, including customized elements and some content migration using minimal learndirect staff resources.

1,500 learners on seven different learning programmes migrated from learndirect’s old learning system to Totara LMS with no interruption to their learning, ensuring the smooth continuation of learning across the organization.

“I have regularly been astonished by the speed and apparent ease with which Webanywhere’s staff have been able to understand complex requirements and provide solutions to meet those requirements.  I come away from meetings with them feeling pressures have been eased, and that we are being given workable practical solutions rather than barriers to progress.” – Learning Design Team Lead, learndirect

Background pattern

Prepare your people for tomorrow, today.