While an upturn in the UK’s construction sector is always good to see, the future of any growth is tempered by whether there are enough skilled workers to deliver it. According to the most recent annual construction survey produced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the UK construction sector is facing one of its bleakest skills shortages for almost 20 years. Over half of respondents reported difficulty sourcing labour, with 71% saying they had particular trouble finding bricklayers and 64% highlighting a shortage of quantity surveyors.
Taking steps to plug the skills gap can also go hand-in-hand with adding real value to your tender submission when bidding for contracts. In any industry, evidence of apprenticeships, training and development is highly regarded and offers you a competitive advantage.
The changing world of tenders
The factors influencing a company’s success in the bidding process for public sector contracts are moving away from purely financial considerations. Spurred on in part by recent EU procurement directives, quality and service are moving up the agenda and taking a higher weighting in the evaluation criteria. So too are commitments for delivering skilled apprentices and on the job training and development.
By 2020 the UK Government wants to create three million new apprenticeships. To help meet this ambitious goal it announced last September that bids for UK government contracts worth more than £10 million and lasting longer than 12 months need to show a commitment to apprenticeships. This builds on the requirements already in place for the public procurement of major construction and infrastructure projects.
Organisations bidding for relevant contracts will now need to provide evidence of their commitment to developing and investing in skills that are relevant to the contract, and in particular their commitment to the creation of apprenticeships.
As well as being essential in complying with the tender, this sort of requirement should be seen as an opportunity for adding value and differentiating your organisation from your competitors.
When preparing your tender submission you should make sure that apprenticeships and skills development will be integral to your contract solution. As we always recommend, the best way to show this and create a strong tender response is through evidence, statistics and case studies highlighting what you’ve done previously.
Apprenticeships and skills development aren’t just the preserve of high value contracts though. With questions relating to apprenticeships and job creation cropping up under social value, staffing and training sections of tenders it’s a big indication on how to score more marks and differentiate against the competition.
If you want to find out more about the benefits apprentices can bring to your business and how to start engaging with potential recruits, why not check out National Apprenticeship Week, which takes place in England between March 14 and 18 2016.