SEEK Learning folds, replacement on the way

by L&D28 Nov 2016
The government's impending regulatory changes for the vocational education and training sector are forcing SEEK to close its education business, with a brand new business set to take its place next year. The winding up of SEEK Learning will result in job losses and erase $24 million from the company's net profit this financial year.
According to SEEK's chief executive, Andrew Bassat, the changes will prohibit SEEK Learning from operating as it qualifies as an education broker. The wide-ranging new regulations include a major crackdown on private colleges that receive taxpayer-funded grants as well as significant caps on student loans.
Mr Bassat told SEEK's annual general meeting that the company will adopt a 'people first' strategy in looking after staff, by offering alternative roles and generous redundancy packages. The redundancy program will cost SEEK $8 million.
Fairfax Media has reported opposition among SEEK's staff to what the company is offering, with some employees who had been in sales roles reluctant to change to a service role.
Bassat also revealed that SEEK will launch a new education business in 2017 that will provide "independent education and career insights". This new platform will reportedly operate in a similar way to travel site TripAdvisor and will offer a phone service providing free advice regarding careers, courses and job seeking. This business is expected to incur losses of $6 million in 2016/17.
Meanwhile, Bassat has shot down speculation that SEEK could sell its Chinese job search site Zhaopin, telling Fairfax, "Absolutely not. We see China as potentially a much larger market than Australia." 
Despite the closure of SEEK Learning, the company expects to post an annual net profit of $215-$220 million over 2015/16, before deductions of $25 million for investment in start-ups and $16 million in one-off costs, including the current redundancy program.