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Government calls for new public sector procurement pipelines

The government is calling on every organisation in the public sector to publish their own procurement pipelines and either sign a best practice procurement pledge or work with their supply chains to develop a list of commitments.

It comes as the Cabinet Office says it will work with the construction industry to create at least 4,000-jobs in tunnelling as it faces £50 billion of major infrastructure projects.

The government has also updated its construction pipeline, last published in November 2011 alongside the National Infrastructure Plan. It includes over 600 projects and programmes, around £40 billion of investment over 4 years to 2014/15.

Ministers have this morning published new and updated data on future public procurement needs across 13 different sectors, including tunnelling but also construction, property, medical and police equipment.

Government says it needs to support the industry with projects including High Speed 2, Crossrail, the Northern Line Extension, National Grid cable tunnels and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Vince Cable are addressing industry figures – including the UK Contractors Group – on the findings today.

They also say a ‘Procurement Pledge’ - which sets out key policy on procurement - has been signed by major organisations, including the UK Contractors Group, the Confederation of British Industry, Engineering Employers Federation, BAE Systems (UK operations), British Chambers of Commerce and Network Rail.

A spokesman said: “The government is calling on every organisation in the public sector to follow its approach and get behind growth, by publishing their own procurement pipelines and either signing the pledge or working with their supply chains to develop their own public commitments tailored to the needs of their particular sector.”

The Cabinet Office says data will help government to work with industry to spot skills and investment gaps earlier and act to safeguard UK competitiveness and growth.

It is taking “initial steps” with industry and academia to explore new training and apprenticeship measures – 450 new apprentices will be needed over the next five years, as well as additional skills training for 500 existing underground construction workers.

It will also explore ways to support sponsorship of higher level degree courses so that UK students are attracted to these degree and build on the UK’s “leading research” in new technology for tunnelling and underground construction to deliver new opportunities in both domestic and international markets.

Mr Maude said: “Tunnelling is just one industry whose needs are set to change over the next few years due to public and private sector demands. We want the whole public sector to follow our lead and publish data on their future needs. We all have an interest in supporting the ability of British companies to compete effectively for business paid for by the British taxpayer and in making Britain a more attractive place to invest.”

In total, data on future contracts across 13 different sectors today – equating to £70 billion of potential future business opportunities – has been published today.

Tunnelling data analysis shows:

Seven of the 40 priority infrastructure projects for growth (set out in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011) require significant tunnelling expertise (High Speed 2, Crossrail, Thames Tideway Tunnel, Northern Line Extension, London Underground capital programme, National Grid cable tunnels and the new nuclear programme);

By 2015/16 there will be around 4000 jobs in direct tunnelling and underground construction, with the available work equating to 14,500 man years over the next five years. These figures do not include the full impact of High Speed 2;

These seven construction projects are worth around £50bn and are expected to run up to 2032; and

While the UK already has world-renowned engineering skills in tunnel design and has exported tunnelling technology to the Madrid and Paris metros, the latest estimates from the British Tunnelling Society show that demand for these skills could outstrip supply by 2015.


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