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DJ Milamber Ventures Plc Market Update and Opportunity

 
TIDMMLVP 
 
27 February 2019 
 
                             Milamber Ventures Plc 
 
                         ("Milamber" or "the Company") 
 
                         Market Update and Opportunity 
 
Following the recent announcement of the acquisition of Astara Training Limited 
("Astara??), Milamber Ventures plc (NEX: MLVP) is delighted to 
provide an update to shareholders on the Market Conditions and Opportunity 
available to the Company. 
 
Andy Hasoon, Executive Chairman of Milamber, commented, 
 
"The "Vocational" or "Apprentice" training industry is going through a 
significant amount of change and Milamber is already being classified as a 
"Change Agent". 
 
We define "Vocational Training" as occupational skills based education to 
prepare people for a craft, trade, a specific job or profession. 
 
There have been several articles in the press recently, including the Financial 
Times this February who reported that a Whitehall department was forced to 
cease its own government funded apprentices, following a significant budget 
reduction of the programme by civil servants in the overseeing agency, 
resulting in the withdrawal of the training provider. 
 
The Financial Times went onto to report that the scheme's administrators had 
admitted they will fall well short of creating three million apprenticeships by 
2020; and that this is a blow to the credibility of the two year old scheme 
which has been criticised by employers for being too restrictive. 
 
Official figures reported in December 2018 show that there were only 375,800 
apprenticeship starts reported for the 2017-2018 academic year compared with 
491,300 in the 2016/2017 period a significant reduction of 24%. This means that 
the total number of apprenticeships is declining not increasing - 912,000 (2016 
/2017) to 814,800 (2017/2018) apprenticeships in England - and overall fall 
well short of the 2020 target of 3m. 
 
Change takes time. It can take 5-10 years to change a large organisation, let 
alone circa 2,500 approved RoATP training organisations overseen by a 
government agency. 
 
Approved training companies are listed on the UK Government Register of 
approved Apprentice Training Providers, which is overseen by the Education 
Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). 
 
During our research and 'Due Diligence' process to find potential acquisition 
targets Milamber identified a number of issues that that would need to be 
addressed and that could only be done with the assistance of the ESFA. 
 
We notified the ESFA that we would be acquiring multiple UK Government Register 
Apprentice Training Providers which in the industry are called RoATP's via 
Milamber's "Buy and Build" strategy. 
 
In July 2018 Milamber escalated its communications with the ESFA to the highest 
levels, raising these various issues directly with the CEO of the ESFA who 
nominated people to discuss these issues. 
 
We have been working on various initiatives since then as Milamber executes its 
"Buy and Build" strategy. 
 
Furthermore, Milamber is conducting due diligence on a number of other 
potential RoATP registered acquisitions so that we can consolidate them through 
Milamber's "Buy and Build" strategy as the market is highly fragmented and 
needs consolidation to improve the quality and effectiveness for the learners 
that are funded by the Apprenticeship Levy and other funding programmes like 
Adult Education Budget (AEB). 
 
It is also essential for UK PLC to have a highly skilled vocationally educated 
talent pool to meet the skills shortages we already have in the UK today. We 
have to educate employers how the Apprenticeship Levy works and be prepared to 
adapt the system so it is not seen as being restrictive but supportive of 
training our next generation of talent. 
 
Most importantly if the UK training sector is to secure private investment in 
Vocational training and to alleviate the skills shortage that we have in key 
sectors like; Finance and Business, Health and Social Care, Information 
Technology and Legal services. It is therefore, imperative for the UK to invest 
in these training companies so we are competitive in a post Brexit environment. 
 
We must modernise and fix what many in the industry admit privately is a broken 
business and funding model. 
 
Milamber is trying to do just that." 
 
A detailed market overview and market opportunity report on the vocational 
training market in the UK with explanations on the Apprentice Levy are 
available for download on www.Milamber.co.uk/media 
 
                                    -ends- 
 
ENQUIRIES: 
 
Milamber Ventures Plc 
 
Andy Hasoon 
 
T: 07768 875 681 
 
E: andy.hasoon@milamber.co.uk 
 
www.milamber.co.uk 
 
Leander (Financial PR) 
 
Christian Taylor-Wilkinson 
 
T: 07795 168 157 
 
E: ctw@leanderPR.com 
 
(A copy of this report with original pictorial charts can be found at http:// 
www.milamber.co.uk/media/) 
 
UK MARKET OPPORTUNITY 
 
The UK opportunity for education and vocational training addresses a market 
worth c. GBP110bn comprising: 
 
  * Education Market Overview: There are over 30,000 training providers in the 
    UK, in addition 130 Universities employing 419,710 staff, 309 Further 
    Education Colleges and 29,083 schools: 20,925 Primary schools employing 
    542,918 with a budget of GBP34bn; 4,168 Secondary employing 705,236 with a 
    budget of GBP48bn; 2,381 Independent and 1,609 special schools. 
 
  * Apprenticeship training, with 912,200 persons currently engaged in 
    apprenticeship schemes and a GBP2.8bn government annual budget; 
 
  * An example of a major area that has significant skills shortage and need 
    for training is the social care sector containing 2,900 Care Home 
    providers, 21,500 nursing and residential care homes and 460,186 beds, 
    predicted to rise by 71,000 by 2025 due to demographics and longevity. 
 
With unemployment at a 12-year low (4.0%, June-August 2018 ONS data) and 
32.386m in employment, demand for training and professional qualification is 
high.  The Education sector leads in ranking Vocational Training as a 
"Significant" hiring factor, at 77%, followed by Business at 74% and Health & 
Social Care at 58% (DoE, 2016). 
 
UK APPRENTICESHIP MARKET SUMMARY 
 
The UK apprentice training market is particularly attractive and a focus for 
Milamber's acquisition strategy. The latest government initiative, introduced 
in May 2017, is the Apprenticeship Levy. This has GBP2.8bn of annual government 
funding and is designed to encourage and enable employers to take on 
apprentices based on a mandatory levy of 0.5% of wage costs for companies with 
a bill of GBP3.0m. 
 
The July 2018 House of Commons survey notes that in 2016/17 there were 912,200 
persons engaged in the scheme, although apprenticeship starts (491,300) were 
down 3.6% YoY. This replaced the old 'Framework' system in which the government 
funded all costs for 16-18 year-olds, half for 19-23 year-olds and up to half 
for those aged 24 and above. 
 
Four sectors account for 86% of apprenticeships - Health/Care Services, 
Business Administration/Law and Engineering/Manufacturing. 
 
In the Levy scheme the government typically funds 90% of the costs of training 
an apprentice receiving on average GBP170/week. 
 
APPRENTICESHIP LEVY ISSUES 
 
Milamber notes surveys such as Evolve Learning Group's highlight three key 
factors as to why the vocational industry is not growing as fast as government 
forecasts: structural barriers, opposition to training ethos and lack of 
awareness of Levy scheme opportunities. 
 
The other material issues raised are focused on systems that are still 
analogue, the vast volume of 'paperwork' needed to be provided per learner by 
the training companies, the importance of learner "Data", the lack of using 
digital learning techniques to make learning engaging to improve learner recall 
and retention rates, and fixing the "Assessor" business model. 
 
DIGTAL OPPORTUNITY 
 
The education and vocational training sector is highly fragmented regionally 
making it a primary target for consolidation, supported by an employer market 
seeking standardisation to a high level of quality in delivering requisite 
training for its employees. 
 
This is further supported by an opportunity to further digitise the service 
offering, streamlining of internal processes while, at the same time providing 
cost savings efficiencies. An attractive market and Milamber Ventures' 
experience and expertise combine to offer a low risk growth opportunity for 
investors as long as we can get co-operation with the two main regulators those 
being the Education Skills funding Agency and Office for Standards in 
Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED). 
 
Milamber stresses the opportunity for efficient and profitable training via 
digital learning, utilising a holistic approach linking awarding organisations, 
assessing/assessors, funding agencies and inspection organisations with the 
candidate at the centre of activities. It identifies an average 
cost-to-employee price point for an apprentice trainer of c. GBP56,500.  It aims 
to use digital and remote learning systems to deliver apprentice qualification 
packages at a lower price-point, particularly in markets which show an 
increased interest in vocational training combined with applicability to 
digital delivery: Finance and Business, Health and Social Care, Information 
Technology and Legal services. 
 
THE UK WORKPLACE TRAINING MARKET: 1.9M EMPLOYERS OF 29M PEOPLE 
 
The most recent (2016) government survey of employment training practices - the 
DoE Employer Perspectives Survey (EPS) - provides an overview of the market 
opportunity for vocat­ional training in the UK. The survey involved 18,028 
employers across both the public and private sectors and applied to a total of 
1.9m employers (ONS data, 2015) employing 28.6m people. 
 
Over 97% of employment establishments have fewer than 10 employees; 53% fewer 
than 5 persons. This again demonstrates the need for innovative training and 
development techniques as time away from the business activity is not cost 

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DJ Milamber Ventures Plc Market Update and -2-

effective or available. As Chart 1 shows, there is an inverse relation between 
the number of establishments and the proportion employed: 53% of all 
establishments employ just 9% of the workforce. Business services and wholesale 
/retail together comprise over a third (34%) of total employed. 
 
CHART 1: UK DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 
 
53% employ 2-4 people, which constitutes 9% of the workforce. 
 
22% employ 5-9 people, which constitutes 9% of the workforce. 
 
15% employ 10-24 people, which constitutes 15% of the workforce. 
 
5% employ 25 -49 people, which constitutes 12% of the workforce. 
 
3% employ  50-99 people, which constitutes 12% of the workforce. 
 
2% employ over 100 people, which constitutes 43% of the workforce. 
 
Source: ONS March 2015 
 
JUNE 2018: 23.9M IN FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT 
 
With unemployment at low levels (4.0%) last seen in 2005, or before that 1978, 
latest data indicates a healthy UKemployment picture.As of June 2018: 
 
  * There were 32.39m people in employment, an increase of 313,000 on June 
    2017; 
 
  * Of which 74.1% are in full-time employment, 14.7% are self-employed and 
    2.41% are on zero-hours contracts (ONS data); 
 
  * Of total employed, EU nationals comprised 7.0%, and non-EU 3.9%. 
 
VOCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS RATED HIGHLY IN HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SECTORS 
 
Overall, vocational training is rated ahead of academic qualifications by 
employers in the hiring process, scoring 49% in the "Significant" and 
"Critical" categories of importance, compared to 46% for Academic credentials, 
but behind School qualifications (Maths and English GCSE grades A-C) at 56% and 
Workplace experience (65%) (Source: DoE EPS Report 2016). 
 
As Chart 2 illustrates vocational training is rating highly in the Education, 
Financial/Business and Health/Social Care sectors.  These also rate highly in 
terms of mean work placement days (Chart 3). 
 
CHART 2: VOCATIONAL QUALIFICATION RATING BY SECTOR 
 
Education                    77% rated vocational training significant 
 
Financial / Business   74% rated vocational training significant 
 
Health / Social            58% rated vocational training significant 
 
Construction               56% rated vocational training significant 
 
Primary Sector            56% rated vocational training significant 
 
Other                           55% rated vocational training significant 
 
Public                          52% rated vocational training significant 
 
Transport, Comms      52% rated vocational training significant 
 
Manufacturing             45% rated vocational training significant 
 
Retail                           39% rated vocational training significant 
 
Hospitality                   32% rated vocational training significant 
 
Source: 2016 DoE EPS report 
 
CHART 3: MEAN NUMBER OF WORK PLACEMENTS BY SECTOR 
 
Public                          10.7% rated vocational training significant 
 
Health/Social               10% rated vocational training significant 
 
Education                    10% rated vocational training significant 
 
Hospitality                   6.5% rated vocational training significant 
 
Other                           5.8% rated vocational training significant 
 
Retail                           4.8% rated vocational training significant 
 
Financial/Business      4.6% rated vocational training significant 
 
Transport, Comms      4.4% rated vocational training significant 
 
Manufacturing             3.5% rated vocational training significant 
 
Primary Sector            3.2% rated vocational training significant 
 
Construction                2.6% rated vocational training significant 
 
Source: 2016 DoE EPS report, IFF Research 
 
LATENT DEMAND - HEALTHCARE AND SOCIAL CARE HIGHLY-RANKED 
 
The UK Technical and Vocational Education industry is estimated to be worth GBP 
816m in terms of revenue (source: IBIS World, March 2018) employing over 22,000 
persons across 700 businesses. 
 
IBISWorld highlights factors - public sector funding cuts and the post-2007 
economic downturn - which have combined to create demand for private sector 
schemes, noting: 
 
  * "The Technical and Vocational Education industry has been relatively 
    volatile over the past five years as external economic conditions, 
    governmental changes to the educational funding structure and educational 
    legislation have affected performance. Public-sector cuts adversely 
    affected the industry, as most industry operators are not-for-profit 
    organisations that rely on government funding. For example, funding for 
    adult education was cut by approximately 24% in the academic year through 
    2015-16. This coincided with an estimated 6.9% decline in industry revenue, 
    the steepest year-on-year decline throughout the past five-year period. 
    However, high unemployment in the wake of the economic downturn encouraged 
    many to enter training to improve their competitiveness in the UK job 
    market." 
 
The three sectors most likely to use private training providers are Education 
(85%), Construction (74%) and Health and Social Care (74%). 
 
Private training was selected overall for the following reasons: 
 
  * Provision of relevant training and courses: 57% responded; 
 
  * Supplies equipment: 17%; 
 
  * Courses are tailored to specific requirements: 16%; 
 
  * High quality: 14%. 
 
Source: 2016 DoE EPS and IFF Research sample, 9,972 respondents. 
 
CHART 4: USE OF PRIVATE OR PUBLIC TRAINING PROVIDERS BY SECTOR 
 
                                    Private             Public 
 
Education                    83%                 36% 
 
Construction                74%                 17% 
 
Health/Social              74%                 28% 
 
Public                          73%                 30% 
 
Primary sector             65%                 17% 
 
Manufacturing             64%                 17% 
 
Other                           62%                 19% 
 
Financial/Business      57%                 12% 
 
Transport, Comms      55%                 8% 
 
Retail                           48%                 9% 
 
Hostility                       42%                 8% 
 
Source: 2016 DoE EPS report, IFF Research 
 
AN 'OUTDATED' EXAM-BIASED EDUCATION SYSTEM? 
 
Following a 2018 university entrance season in which requirements were 
deliberately lowered to fill an excess of course places, but fees and costs 
remain high, the relevance of university education is the focus of debate. 
Writing in The Times (20th August 2018) Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute 
for Fiscal Studies questioned the validity of an exam-based educational system 
starting at age 16 - GCSEs, A-levels, degrees - which, it has been suggested, 
could be replaced by a "broader 14-to-19 curriculum, encompassing vocational as 
well as academic qualifications". Paul Johnson closes the article noting that 
his son declined a university place and "embarks on a higher-level 
apprenticeship next month". 
 
This reinforces the case for whole person education which focuses not just on 
the actual core knowledge but on the wider development of the individual, an 
area that current digital training practices pay little attention to, Milamber 
intends to address this oversight. 
 
BUSINESS MODEL - DIGITAL LEARNING VERSUS 'EXPENSIVE' TRAINERS 
 
Milamber highlights the high cost of professional apprentice trainers, in terms 
of salary and cost-to-employ (Chart 5), based on data from employment search 
sites such as Fish4jobs  ( www.fish4.co.uk ), Monster ( www.monster.co.uk ) and 
Indeed ( www.indeed.co.uk ). 
 
The overall average total cost to an employer is estimated at c. GBP56,500. 
 
Milamber aims to use digital learning packages blended with face to face 
training to deliver more effective high-quality delivery of courses and 
personal development that increase engagement, recall and retention, at lower 
price-points. 
 
CHART 5: TRAINER SALARY BANDS AND COST TO EMPLOY 
 
                                    Salary              Cost to Employ 
 
Digital                          GBP54,120           GBP67,650 
 
Legal                           GBP52,500           GBP65,625 
 
Insurance                    GBP47,700           GBP59,625 
 
Finance                       GBP40,950           GBP51,188 
 
Healthcare                   GBP40,500           GBP50,625 
 
Construction                GBP35,160           GBP43,950 
 
Source: Company data 
 
A DIGITAL SKILLS SHORTAGE 
 
The UK has a shortage in skills in science, technology and engineering which 
contrasts with countries such as the US, Germany, Norway or Switzerland. 
 
There are examples of initiatives to address the problem.  The start-up 
WhiteHat, in (https://whitehat.org.uk) with WeWork-backed FlatIron, offers a 
digital skills apprenticeship scheme.  Placements include Google, Facebook and 
Warner Bros., and from October will include engineering skills training. 
 
INDUSTRY CHALLENGES 
 
Latest (May 2018) data indicates that the government's target of creating 3 
million new apprenticeships by 2020 is ambitious. The latest data show a 25% 
decline in apprenticeship take-up, from 309,000 for the 6 months to February 
2017 to just 232,700 for the corresponding period this year. There are 
currently 912,200 on apprenticeships.  In 2016/17 there were 491,300 starts, 
but this was 18,100 below 2015/16 levels. 
 
*https://www.wired.co.uk/article/ 
whitehat-apprenticeships-jobs-euan-blair-flatiron-wework 
 
James Hurley wrote in the Times in January 2019 that a recent survey of 765 
levy-paying businesses found that 95% failed to spend all their apprenticeship 
budget in the first 12 months of the new system and expected to spend an 
average of 56% of their funds annually in the future. 
 
50% of levy payers said they want more flexibility for use of funds on 
technical and professional courses for existing staff. 
 
TAKE-UP HAS BEEN DISAPPOINTING 
 
There are currently 912,200 participants in apprenticeship schemes. 
 
Data for May 2018 show a 25% YoY decline in apprenticeship take-up from 309,000 

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for the 6 months to February 2017 to just 232,700 for the corresponding period 
this year. 
 
Official figures then showed in December 2018 that there were 375,800 
apprenticeship starts reported for the 2017-2018 academic year compared with 
491,300 in the 2016/2017 period a significant reduction of 24%. 
 
In 2016/17 there were 491,300 starts, 18,100 below 2015/16 levels. 
 
Again this reinforces that increased education on industry awareness, 
simplifying and modernising the levy process to meet companies' needs is vital. 
 
Qualification levels range from Intermediate Level (2) (5GCSE grades A*-C), and 
Advanced (3) (2 A-Level passes) to Higher (4-7) at Foundation degree level or 
above. 2016/17 apprenticeship starts were distributed as follows: 
 
  * Intermediate, Level 2: 53%; 
 
  * Advanced, Level 3: 40%; 
 
  * Higher, Levels 4-7: 7%. 
 
The most common subject area is Business, Administration and Law, overtaken by 
Health, Public Services and Care in 2016/17. 
 
Source: Department of Education, Apprenticeship and levy statistics, 13 
September 2018 
 
APPRENTICE LEVY EARNINGS CONTRIBUTION 
 
Milamber in Table 3 illustrates the economics of provision of courses and 
qualifications within the Apprenticeship Levy scheme, the key inputs and 
variables being: 
 
  * Apprenticeship Level and associated funding band; 
 
  * Funding allocation: currently 90% government-provision, 10% 
    employer-provided; 
 
  * Course term (months); 
 
  * Estimated take-up and attendance; 
 
  * Course completion expectations / drop-out ratio; 
 
  * Opportunities for additional revenue streams; 
 
  * Cost of provision: registration fees, completion-related expenses, travel 
    and ancillary administration costs. 
 
TABLE 3: ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES OF APPRENTICESHIP LEVY COURSE ECONOMICS 
 
Apprenticeship 
 
Courses                      Level 2            Level 4            Digital 
            Digital             Digital 
 
Funding Band            2                      3 
12                    15                    12 
 
Funding per person    GBP2,000             GBP3,000             GBP15,000           GBP 
18,000            GBP27,000 
 
Course months           14                    18 
36                    36                    36 
 
ESFA portion @ 90% GBP1,800             GBP2,700             GBP13,500           GBP 
16,200            GBP24,300 
 
Employer contribution @10% GBP200    GBP300                GBP1,500             GBP 
1,800             GBP2,700 
 
Participants                 40                    35 
25                    25                    25 
 
Funding income          GBP80,000           GBP105,000         GBP375,000         GBP 
450,000            GBP675,000 
 
Additional revenue      50%                 50% 
0%                   0%                   0% 
 
Total                           GBP120,000         GBP157,500         GBP 
375,000         GBP450,000            GBP675,000 
 
Gross margin              37.0%              45.0% 
65.0%              65.0%              65.0% 
 
Gross contribution       GBP44,400           GBP70,875           GBP243,750         GBP 
292,500            GBP438,750 
 
Operating contribution 16.0%             25.0%              48.0% 
48.0%              48.0% 
 
Annualised                 GBP16,457           GBP26,250           GBP 
60,000           GBP72,000            GBP108,000 
 
Source: Company Data, Milamber Ventures plc estimates 
 
PURPOSE OF THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY SCHEME 
 
Introduced in April 2017 the Apprenticeship Levy scheme aims to add a total of 
3 million apprentices by year-end 2020 compared to a total of 1.5m completing 
apprenticeships between 201/11 and 2015/16.All UK employers with an annual pay 
bill of over GBP3.0m must contribute a levy of 0.5% of their pay bill, minus a GBP 
15,000 allowance per year (e.g. GBP30,000 on a GBP10m bill).Employers below the GBP 
3.0m wage threshold generally contribute 10% of the costs of an apprenticeship, 
with the government contributing 90%. 
 
COMPANIES PAYING THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY 
 
For employers paying the Apprenticeship Levy: 
 
  * Funding bands determine the maximum which can be spent on an 
    apprenticeship; these are deposited in a digital account and vary according 
    to the type of apprenticeship but not age. Funds in the digital account 
    will expire after 24 months if not used; 
 
  * Any fee agreed with the training provider above the band maximum is paid in 
    full by the employer; 
 
  * Employers are entitled to a GBP1,000 incentive payment for recruiting 16-18 
    year old apprentices, or an apprentice aged 19-24 year within an Education, 
    Health, and Care (EHC) plan, paid in two instalments by the training 
    provider (GBP500 after 3 months and GBP500 after 12 months). 
 
COMPANIES NOT PAYING THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY 
 
For employers who do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy: 
 
  * Employers with more than 50 employees which do not pay the levy pay 10% of 
    the training costs of each apprentice; 
 
  * Employers with fewer than 50 employees pay nothing towards training an 
    apprentice aged 18 or under (or aged 19-24 with an EHC plan) if the cost of 
    their training is within the maximum funding band; 
 
  * Non levy-paying employers are subject to the same apprenticeship funding 
    bands as levy-paying employers; 
 
  * Non levy-paying employers also access funds through the digital account; 
 
  * Non levy paying employers are also eligible for the GBP1,000 incentive 
    payment for apprentices under 18, (or aged 19-24 with an EHC plan). 
 
ACCESS TO FUNDING 
 
  * To access funds in the new digital account employers must register online 
    with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) at www.gov.uk/guidance/ 
    manage-apprenticeship-funds; 
 
  * The SFA requires employers to estimate the amount of apprenticeship funding 
    needed; 
 
  * If funds in the digital account are exhausted, employers pay 10% of any 
    additional apprenticeship training costs. The Government pays the remaining 
    90%, up to the maximum in the funding band. 
 
SELECTING A TRAINING PROVIDER 
 
  * Employers must approach an apprenticeship training provider for 
    apprenticeship training; 
 
  * Employers can select an apprenticeship training provider from the 
    Government's approved list; 
 
  * Employers need to negotiate the cost of delivering training with the 
    provider; 
 
  * Employers must sign a contract with the training provider and the 
    apprentice to begin an apprenticeship. 
 
FOR THE APPRENTICE 
 
  * Apprentices receive GBP150.0 - GBP180.0 / week for a minimum of 30 hours with 
    20% in off-job instruction. 
 
For more information contact Milamber Ventures plc: 
 
www.Milamber.co.uk 
 
or our recently acquired Apprentice Levy Registered training company Astara 
Training. 
 
www.astaratraining.co.uk 
 
 
 
END 
 

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