The federal government is having another go at replacing its long-outdated apprenticeships system with a new digital platform, this time with a vastly increased budget.
The federal budget included $91.6 million over four years, along with $1.8 million per year in ongoing funding, for the creation of a new Apprenticeships Data Management System to “better support the needs of apprentices and employers”.
The new platform will replace the current apprenticeships information system, the Training and Youth Internet Management System, which is severely outdated.
The government had previously planned to replace this system by mid-2016, but eventually dumped the $24 million project in early 2018 after it was over-budget, delayed and not meeting user needs.
It’s now having another go at it, with nearly five times as much funding.
The new Apprenticeships Data Management System will take control of the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network and the administration of various apprenticeship programs.
The education department originally kicked off the same project in early 2015, selecting tech giant NEC to develop and implement the new apprenticeships platform.
But NEC soon advised the government the task would take “significantly longer” than first thought. Two years later almost all of the $19.6 million budget had been spent and the platform was “nowhere near complete”, despite plans to have it launched in mid-2016.
A government review found systemic project weaknesses, and the department decided to drop it entirely “rather than continue to invest in a system which ultimately may not have met the current business needs or future requirements of Australia’s apprenticeship and traineeship system”.
A PwC review of the project found “weaknesses in practices across project governance, project management, contract and stakeholder management”.
Since the plan was canned in 2018, the government has been relying on the existing Training and Youth Internet Management System, which was viewed as critically outdated as far back as 2013 and is now 20 years old.
The education department is now having another go at developing a new platform to manage apprenticeships, with significantly more funding on offer, and a longer timeframe of four years to develop it.
The department is likely to now have a better grasp on the difficulty of this task, with the department secretary saying in 2018 that NEC had “initially underestimated the complexity of the AAMS system” as part of the initial attempt to update the system.
The government paid NEC $10.5 million for its work on the platform, which was found to have “critical defects” and be unsalvageable.