In the second of this week’s themed posts, the UK’s Learning at Work Week (15–21 May) has given us time to reflect on how learning opportunities and continuous professional development figure into bid and tender writing. Quality responses in a tender will often include what opportunities you will offer for local employment, apprenticeships or continuous professional development throughout the contract lifecycle.
This year’s theme is ‘Create the Future’, with a particular emphasis on promoting lifelong learning at work. Fostering an environment where employees can improve and expand their existing skillset via professional development has proven to be just as beneficial for employers as staff, leading to higher retention rates, attracting better talent and staying abreast with industry trends. For example, a 2021 poll showed that 94% of employees will stay longer at a company which invests in staff development.
Benefits are not only limited to increasing overall workforce satisfaction rates. When tendering for public sector contracts, examples of professional development and continuous learning can persuade authorities of your competence and capability in the following areas:
- Confidence and credibility in your long-term organisational approaches to quality assurance, business development and keeping abreast of industry changes to best practice
- Succession planning in response to normal rates of attrition over the contract lifecycle, allaying concerns from evaluators over potential slippage due to knowledge gaps
- Improvements to efficiency by training employees in different areas of the business and developing multi-skilled staff able to complete necessary tasks concurrently.
There are several ways to evidence detailed and sustained commitments to continuous professional development within quality responses. The following sections detail some examples used daily by our team of bid and tender writers.
Continuous professional development
Evidencing continuous professional development throughout the contract will show authorities you have a vested interest in rewarding quality and positive performance in service delivery. Additionally, offering a developmental programme demonstrates an investment in staff, facilitating the retention of high-quality and motivated employees.
To feature your organisation’s commitment to developing existing employees the following aspects should be included:
- Any learning opportunities offered as part of employment benefits for those with an aptitude for developing their skillset. Examples include offering employees the opportunity to gain certification in a professional area of interest, such as a Level 4 Adult Care Diploma or a BPEC air source heat pump certification for heating and plumbing operatives.
- Career pathways and expected progression for employees who consistently meet or exceed KPIs and expectations within their job description. Evidence of pathways and opportunities for promotion will show evaluators you have strong systems in place for rewarding achievement of benchmark targets and KPIs, thereby incentivising staff performance on the contract or framework agreement.
- Year-on-year retention rates of all staff including a percentage of supervisory or management level employees who have progressed within the company to their current roles. This provides authorities with concrete, quantified examples of your organisation’s approach to knowledge circulation and internal promotion practices, in addition to allaying any concerns about business continuity and familiarity with contracting partners.
Government funding is available to enhance your organisation’s capacity to offer professional development in the workplace. One such example is the Workplace Development Fund. Organised by the Department of Health and Social Care, the fund allows you to claim up to £2,000 per learner per funding year for vocational learning and social care qualifications, such as a Level 5 Leadership and Management Diploma.
Apprenticeships and work placements
Purchasing authorities want to know how and when any prospects for apprenticeships or placements will be offered during the contract. Such opportunities are often a crucial aspect of social value offerings, evidencing a commitment to offering benefits for the local area as a result of contract award.
Consequently, details of early career opportunities should provide strong evidence, with clear timescales for the start and finish of each programme. Responses or method statements should also outline the following:
- The number of places and length of time allocated to each opportunity, including details of expected job duties and responsibilities and whether this is tied to the expected contract value
- Details of recruitment methodology for sourcing appropriate candidates, such as local colleges or job centres and who will be responsible for final decisions on the interview panel
- Expected outcomes of the early career programmes, including qualifications/certifications and a guaranteed job offer for apprentices or letters of recommendation for work placement candidates.
If it is possible to offer competitive pay above the National Minimum Wage for work placements or above the current rate for apprentices, this will give your organisation a further competitive advantage in the tendering process.
Offering skills training and courses
Regardless of the tendered works or service, buyers will typically require contractors to provide contract-specific training to any staff involved in service delivery. Different contracts will understandably produce varying priorities and requirements, but examples of training specific to the opportunity could include:
- Safeguarding to ensure the safety of vulnerable adults, children and the elderly by training staff how to identify and report abuse or neglect
- Customer care procedures based on the buyer’s policies, such as preferred methods and frequency of communication to be integrated during service delivery
- Cultural sensitivity training, ensuring employees have knowledge of social, religious or cultural differences, thereby equipping them to deliver services to a broad demographic base of residents or service users
- IT and software training to integrate with any specialist software required for the contract, such as reporting for home visits.
Including these features within quality responses, such as mobilisation or quality assurance, not only shows your staff’s competence to evaluators, but also flexibility and a willingness to adopt preferred working processes and procedures.
With over 7,000 SQ and ITT submissions, 14 years of experience and a fully auditable 85% success rate, Executive Compass are well placed to support with a variety of bid and tender services. To find out more, contact a member of our sales and marketing team today at 0800 612 5563 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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