Scottish Parliament construction procurement recommendations backed by Supplier Development Programme

Scottish Parliament construction procurement recommendations backed by Supplier Development Programme

Gillian Cameron

The Supplier Development Programme (SDP) has welcomed the procurement recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and fair work committee.

In its inquiry, the committee sought to understand the characteristics and challenges of Scotland’s construction sector and published its “Under Construction: Building the future of the sector in Scotland” report earlier this month.

In January and February 2019, the Supplier Development Programme submitted written and oral evidence and raised to the committee that some businesses in the construction sector lack the skills and resources to bid for public sector work, whilst the level of skills in procuring public authorities is also varied.

Gillian Cameron, Supplier Development Programme manager, said: “The committee heard directly from SMEs about the pitfalls of public sector tendering that we, as the SDP Programme, aim to address: many small and micro-businesses do not have enough time, resource or the suitable skills to bid for public sector work. Therefore, the Supplier Development Programme welcomes the committee’s recommendation that the Scottish Government ensures that SMEs are supported in their efforts to bid for public sector work through the business support system, of which we play the lead role.

“Public authorities already have to meet the Sustainable Procurement Duty, in that procurement processes must facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses, and promote innovation. So when the Committee asks public authorities to access the necessary skills to support bidders, we answer that this can be consistently achieved through membership of the Supplier Development Programme, because we actively engage with procurement departments to plan early engagement open days and training, to ensure that the SME supplier base is sufficiently supported to become tender ready.”

Earlier this year, trade association SELECT took immediate action to become a member of the Supplier Development Programme to provide tailored free tender training to its some 1,200 electrical contracting member companies, many of which are micro SMEs.

Gillian Cameron added: “Plans are already in motion to provide a tailored face-to-face introductory course to SELECT members at its headquarters in West Lothian in October, and we hope to highlight electrical contracting opportunities available through the Public Contracts Scotland website. The ultimate aim is to help SELECT members in particular, but all Scottish-based SMEs in the construction industry, to improve upon and maximise their procurement knowledge to find, win and keep public sector contracts, which is in keeping with the committee’s recommendations.”

Alan Wilson, managing director of SELECT, said: “We are looking forward to developing our relationship with our colleagues in the Supplier Development Programme. The public sector is a vital source of work for SELECT members and our liaison with the SDP will undoubtedly help improve access to work in this area for our members.

“The SDP training course we will be running at our offices later this year will also be of great benefit to SELECT members and, together with our planned attendance at two “Meet the Buyer” events which SDP have arranged, our growing relationship will help improve the marketplace for contractors and clients alike.”

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