Written answers

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Department of Education and Skills

SOLAS Training and Education Programmes

Photo of Peter FitzpatrickPeter Fitzpatrick (Louth, Fine Gael)
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282. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to clarify if SOLAS and Education and Training Boards Ireland have changed the tender process for the provision for contracted training, if these changes will affect the many small businesses which provide contracted training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9192/16]

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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This is an operational matter for SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards. SOLAS have advised that in 2013, through an e-tender notification, it established a panel and managed the pre-qualification process for the provision of contracted training for the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). This panel is due to expire in early 2017. A new procurement framework for the delivery of the required service will be established by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and operated by the ETBs for the purpose of delivering contracted training services.

The OGP have posted a notice inviting the sector to provide feedback on the draft proposal for the operation of the framework. All interested parties may submit their views. I understand that the following approaches were included to ensure that small and medium sized businesses retain the opportunity to be listed on the new framework;

Significant reduction in the turnover requirements regarding the financial capacity for applicants• Limiting the number of lots for which a larger company can apply.

Limiting the minimum number of businesses that will be listed.

Providing a viable sub-contracting option at tender stage and for specific technical contracts, to ensure that small businesses can avail of additional opportunities if they are not listed on the framework.

Encouraging joint venture options by early notification of upcoming changes.

I understand that while the market will ultimately determine the outcome of a regulated tender process, a maximum of 90 businesses can prequalify. Each of these can nominate 3 sub-contractors at the tendering stage, which means that there could potentially be up to 270 businesses on the listing for contracted training at the end of the process. There will be opportunities for small, medium and large indigenous training businesses within the new framework. It should also be noted that there are currently 250 listed businesses on the current panel of which only a small percentage are actively responding to tender invitation opportunities.


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