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8 November 2012 | Adam Leach
Public bodies should ensure an apprenticeship is created for every £1 million spent through public procurement, a committee of MPs has said.
The Business Innovation and Skills Committee conceded implementing the recommendation would not be wholly straightforward due to EU procurement rules, but it called on central and local government and other publicly funded bodies to work to achieve it. Further it called for the government to give positive consideration to prospective contractors, which factor apprenticeships into their current recruitment practices.
In Apprenticeships, a report published this week the committee accepted legal constraints may need to be overcome before the policy can be implemented and disclosed the government has pledged to “push this as far as possible”. Therefore, MPs called for the government to set out how it will achieve this.
“We recommend that in response the department sets out how it proposes to resolve any legal issues preventing the government from attaching requirement for apprentices in major public procurement projects commissioned by itself, local government and publicly funded bodies.”
Responding to the report, skills minister Matthew Hancock said: “I welcome this timely and thorough investigation into apprenticeships, and will consider carefully its suggestions to help make the programme even more successful.” He explained the Department for Business Innovation & Skills has commissioned Doug Richard, entrepreneur and former panellist on TV show Dragon’s Den to investigate how best to take the apprenticeship programme forward.
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 – which comes into force in January 2013 – will demand “public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental wellbeing in connection with public services contracts”, requiring buyers to consider factors such as whether apprenticeships are provided by suppliers.