Today Ed Miliband set out his six national goals for a Labour Government. Within the speech was a commitment that Ed will make it a requirement for every firm awarded a major government contract to offer apprenticeships. We have seen the creation of apprenticeships being part public sector contracts before, largely in local government, but will this commitment deliver?
First, we have a problem of definition: what is a 'major contract'? Will it be defined by the EU threshold or a definition of the service? If you are an SME you would have a different difinition of what is a 'major government contract' than, say, a large out-sourcing organisation.
Will the requirement be solely on central government contracts or will it also apply to devolved and local government? Will it be for services, supplies and/or works?
But then again, what is a 'requirement to offer apprenticeships'? Doesn't the shaping of the offer dictate the likilhood of uptake? Will there be wiggle room for those drafting and committing to contracts?
Will there be the requirement explicity state the apprenticeships have to be established in the UK - surely that wouldn't be legal?
Does a single apprenticeship on a multi-million pound contract represent compliance? Having said that, is there a threshold of what would be an unacceptably high dependency on apprentices in the delivery of a contract?
Regardless of all those questions, won't the cost of apprenticeships increase the cost of contracts - will budgets accommodate those potential additional costs?
Central government contract management has become an oxymoron - how on earth will this be contract managed?
Great to hear that Miliband recognises public procurement has a part to play, but can public procurement play its part?