Case study: Estio


Addressing IT skills shortages with apprenticeshipsEstio Training offers a range of IT and digital apprenticeship programmes, including data analyst, infrastructure technician and software developer roles.

Partnering with a reputable IT training provider – Estio was formed in 2014 and offers high-quality technical training to people of all ages. Its programmes serve as a great alternative to university studies. The UK continues to suffer from a major skills gap in the IT and digital industry, and Estio trains and upskills the next generation of workers to address this.

We were impressed by Estio’s strong reputation for quality training in the north of England, with facilities in both Leeds and Manchester, and we were excited by the opportunity to grow the business on a national scale, with a new facility post-investment in Birmingham and the expansion of the company’s footprint in London.

In 2018, we invested £7.3m, and Palatine Partners Beth Houghton and James Gregson joined the board as Non-Executive Directors.

Going for growth with added value

Organic Growth –Estio opened a new training centre in Birmingham, moved to a larger facility in London and expanded the sales and delivery teams at the existing offices in Leeds, Manchester and London. The business also transitioned to a purely online delivery model, allowing Estio to expand its national coverage even further. During our investment, Estio became the UK’s second-largest IT apprenticeship training provider, with a 9% market share of new learners.

People – We supplemented the senior management team with industry-leading Operations, HR and Finance Directors. The new team members brought extensive experience in both the sector and delivery of growth. The HR Director implemented a new vision and values strategy, successfully embedding a high-performance culture to recruit and retain the best employees.

Operational efficiency – We introduced Estio to specialist operations consultants, whose review led to the restructuring of the skills coach department. The restructure provided a more functional and efficient team, with skills coaches spending less time on admin tasks and travelling with more time dedicated to student engagement.

Digitising the Business – We supported the business in moving to an online delivery model, and introduced Estio to an IT consultancy, which undertook an independent review of the digital platform scope, improving the focus on the key risk areas. Estio received positive feedback on the new digital delivery model from both employers and learners, leading to the permanent adoption of the model.

ESG – The new online model significantly reduced travel, decreasing business travel-related CO2 emissions by 94%. Replacing printed resource packs with digital content also reduced resource inputs and waste.

A new people strategy was introduced with updated policies, a refreshed company vision and values, and an occupational health and wellbeing programme. This resulted in a significant drop in staff absence and high employee satisfaction rates.

Estio invested in its Learner Management System, which increased learner satisfaction despite the change in the learning environment. Community engagement became more strategic throughout the investment, particularly women in tech initiatives, which increased gender balance in courses.

Returns with purpose – During our investment, first-time pass rates increased to 95%, the number of female enrolments grew by 33%, and the proportion of learners residing in areas of deprivation increased to 35%. In addition, the most recent monitoring assessment by OFSTED in February 2021 rated Estio’s service delivery at the highest possible level, with a ‘Significant Progress’ grading.

Estio grew its revenues threefold and expanded the number of learners on the programme by over 40% while maintaining a strong focus on quality and inclusivity.

Palatine’s investment, commitment and ongoing support throughout our three-year partnership has been central to our success. With their guidance and expertise, we have been able to grow Estio in every area, while never faltering on our commitment to delivering the highest quality training for our apprentices.

Through a shared purpose to build skills for better futures, the team at Palatine really took the time to understand who we are, and it is that strength in the relationship that has brought us to our exciting new chapter with BPP

Lee Meadows

CEO Estio Training