The Department for Education is planning a two-year £5m project to improve the capacity and functionality of its digital Apprenticeship Service.
The service has been in operation since 2017 and allows employers to register for an account, where they can manage funding applications, as well as finding and recruiting apprentices themselves. Over the last three years, the DfE has “continued to add new capabilities to the service… connected through personalised user-outcome, AI-based, real-time data model”.
During the coming two years, the department plans to continue making significant upgrades and has published a contract notice seeking a commercial partner to support a 24-month programme of work. The deal will be worth between £4m and £5m to the winning bidder, whose overarching objective will be to enable the service to “transition to an employer led-model”.
Newly added functionality will include giving organisations that conduct assessments of apprentices the ability “to receive payment direct from government”. The DfE will also seek to add “capabilities that improve quality of the apprentices experience”.
Organisations supplying apprentices, meanwhile, should “have visibility of real-time employer demand and can explore opportunities to fill gaps and meet employers’ skills needs”.
Improvements to the platform will, the DfE said, be ultimately geared to “making the service easy to use – so that smaller employers can meet their business needs, [and] scaling the service so that this holds true at significant volumes”.
Another target is increasing levels of personalisation so that users can access “the right information, at the right time, through the right channel that suits their situation and that will help them decide if, and which apprenticeships are best for their business”.
Bids for the project are open until 6 May, ahead of a scheduled contract start date of 1 June.