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A Procurement Framework for Jobs and Skills’

West Midlands

The West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel was established in June 2008, specifically to address the challenge of Worklessness. Funded by Advantage West Midlands, the Panel brings together leaders from across the Public, Private and Third Sectors to identify and champion good practice in tackling worklessness and propose the means to fill crucial gaps in current employment and training provision.

The Panel has developed ' A Procurement Framework for Jobs and Skills'. It is estimated that the public sector spends and invests £220 billion annually on goods, services, capital assets and construction. This Framework is for use by public and third sector organisations in the West Midlands who wish to increase access to jobs and skills opportunities for local people through the procurement exercises they undertake and thereby tackle the unacceptable levels of long term unemployment and Worklessness experienced by so many across the West Midlands.

The Framework

The Framework enables public and third sector organisations to contribute significantly to tackling Worklessness, and its consequences, by:

  • Making access to jobs and skills a core requirement of procurement exercises from the outset;
  • Addressing specifically the real and perceived legal barriers to the use of jobs and skills clauses in procurement exercises;
  • Providing advice and guidance (including bespoke templates) to help embed a focus on jobs and skills throughout the end-to-end procurement process - from setting strategic priorities to contract implementation and monitoring; and
  • Sign-posting procurers and prospective contractors to the range of support and advice that can help both parties deliver on the jobs and skills requirements to be delivered.

The Framework - 4 Approaches

the Framework offers a menu of four specific approaches, with a wealth of detailed supporting information:

  • Approach 1: Charters: through which public sector organisations share their strategic priorities and goals (specifically around Worklessness) with current and prospective contractors, encourage the adoption of exemplar behaviours and practices and look to develop new customer-supplier relationships;
  • Approach 2: Voluntary Agreements: whereby public sector organisations work with their existing contractors to secure commitments to specific jobs and skills outcomes over a specified time period, with support provided to contractors by a range of public sector agencies. This approach can be used retrospectively with longstanding contractors and in the middle of long term contracts;
  • Approach 3: Use of Contract Clauses: whereby public sector organisations include jobs and skills clauses within specific procurement exercises leading to a contractually agreed set of outputs and outcomes;
  • Approach 4: The Strategic Application of Contract Clauses: whereby public sector organisations deliberately adopt a 'default' position, which requires clauses specifying jobs and skills requirements to be routinely considered for their relevance to all stages of the commissioning and procurement process and each and every procurement exercise undertaken (and measure on an ongoing basis the percentage of contracts and the proportion of expenditure to which such clauses apply, in addition to tracking outputs and outcomes).

The Framework Documents

There are three specific Framework products for use by public and third sector organisations, and their prospective contractors:

  • Summary Guide, which provides key information on embedding jobs and skills as core requirements throughout the procurement process, and the issues to be considered when doing so;
  • Main Guide, containing detailed information on legal and policy matters and the wide range of employment and training support available to procurers and prospective contractors to help them recruit and train their workforce;
  • Toolkit for Stakeholders, containing 'model' jobs and skills clauses and guidance Templates, which can be downloaded and adapted to meet the needs of individual pubic and third sector organisations and prospective contractors, including SMEs and Social Enterprises.

The full Framework can be accessed on  Advantage West Midlands website.