In December 2015, the government announced the creation of a program of alternative delivery pilots for apprenticeship training. The intention of the pilots was to ‘improve apprenticeship outcomes for employers, apprentices and the economy by developing innovative trade training arrangements that will aim to reduce costs for employers, boost training quality and offer apprentices more choice in how they train for a trade’.
Three bodies were selected for Stream 1 of the program: Master Builders Australia (MBA), the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) and the North East Vocational College (NEVC). Two further Stream 2 grants were awarded to the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Each grant was for $1.84 million (GST exclusive) and the program was administered by the Department of Education and Training (DET).
On 4 November 2016, the Shadow Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, wrote to the Auditor-General. Mr Dreyfus expressed concern about the former Senator Bob Day’s involvement in the grant process, and noted that Senator Day was a Director of NEVC. He requested that the Auditor-General investigate the process by which the grant to NEVC was awarded and whether the grant represented value for money. The Deputy Auditor-General replied on 5 January 2017, advising Mr Dreyfus that the Auditor-General had decided to conduct an audit of DET’s establishment of the Apprenticeship Training alternative delivery pilots program (pilots program).
The objective of the audit was to assess whether the Department of Education and Training established the Apprenticeship Training – alternative delivery pilots program in accordance with the Commonwealth Grants and Rules Guidelines.