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Monday January 18th, 2010

In the first in a series of articles from 2009’s National GO Awards winners, we look at the winning entries in the Sustainability and Innovation categories.

GO Excellence in Sustainability and Social Procurement Award

Winner – Manchester City Council Partnership – Young People into Construction Initiative

When we talk about building a future, the word ‘build’ is normally taken as a metaphor. In the case of the winning entry in the GO Excellence in Sustainability and Social Procurement Award category, ‘constructing a future’ may be taken literally.

Manchester City Council Partnership – Young People into Construction Initiative is an apprentice employment programme aimed at 16-25-year-olds living within the boundaries of Manchester. The programme aims to reach otherwise disadvantaged youths, providing an opportunity for a fulfilling career based in the construction services industry which will allow them to serve the community they live in and help create more self-sufficient lifestyles.

The Initiative used public sector construction projects as a means of engaging with young people, creating apprenticeships that provide direction, hope and self-respect. One judge said: “You can almost see and touch this initiative. There’s evidence of teamwork and huge motivation, and you can see that the people involved have really got down to business and done something to make a difference.”

It was decided to adopt what is referred to as the ‘Aspire model’ in order to reduce the risk elements associated with typical apprenticeships.  Under this model Aspire, a local voluntary sector employer, would act as the legal employer of the apprentices participating in the initiative, not the contracting firms.  Manchester CC works with Aspire to place apprentices on assignments around the city on projects in which its construction contracting partners are engaged.

Through the Aspire model the hiring and payroll responsibilities were transferred from the construction contractors to Aspire, allowing the Young People into Construction Initiative to provide a greater level of comfort and flexibility for these firms. Under the programme, contractors can focus on the apprentice him or herself, and provide a more directed approach to training and experience that best suits both the apprentice and the contractor. 

Qumer Khan, Project Manager at Manchester CC, said: “We are delighted to have won this Award for the Young People into Construction Initiative. We have succeeded in delivering a key strategic objective to offer employment opportunities to the young people of Manchester. We have proven that partnership working and sustainable procurement can be utilised to create social and economic benefits for Manchester communities.”

GO Best Procurement Innovation or Initiative Award

Winner – The London Energy Project, sponsored by Capital Ambition

The GO Best Procurement Innovation or Initiative Award recognises those who have identified a challenge and risen to it, overcoming obstacles and retaining a determined focus on a successful outcome. It celebrates creativity, and acts as a showcase for the imagination and ingenuity that is making public procurement an exciting sector as well as a challenging one.

The London Energy Project (LEP), sponsored by Capital Ambition, was an entry that caught the judges’ attention from the very first line of the submission, and held it until the last. It was the complete package – a hugely important and complex initiative that transformed a procurement practice from incredibly high risk to manageable risk, and brought together a disparate and fragmented array of stakeholders.

The UK public sector spends £3.8 billion a year on energy. The LEP ensures London’s public sector can capitalise on opportunities to plough efficiency gains back into frontline services, providing a better deal for taxpayers.

In 2008, The LEP successfully introduced risk-managed, aggregated flexible procurement (flex contracts) to the public energy market. This means that every London council, social housing facility, police station, fire station, hospital and clinic can benefit from better value energy supplies. The benefits have been clear – huge savings, improved management efficiency and a seismic shift in the balance of power, previously held by the supplier. Over the past three years flexible versus fixed price contracts have delivered a 4.7 per cent cost reduction against the wholesale market average.

Amanda De Swarte, Change Manager for the Project, said: “The 33 councils of the Greater London Authority plus the Office of Government Commerce worked with us to achieve this result – so it felt great to win this Award!”

Further information

The deadline for this year’s National GO Awards for Excellence in Public Procurement is 16 April. For further information, please visit: www.govopps.co.uk

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