Cork's "learning city" to include mandatory apprenticeships

Barry Murphy continues to pursue the mandatory inclusion of apprenticeships in public procurement contracts and has been successful in getting the agreement of Cork City Council for such a change.

As part of our position on various SPC’s countrywide it is my view that we should be proactive on issues directly affecting workers across the country and identify areas where well paid jobs and training opportunities for young people can be facilitated within Procurement Contracts on a nationwide basis.

The State and Public bodies are in a very strong position, due to their purchasing power, to ensure apprenticeships/internships are prerequisites for companies bidding for public contracts.  This in turn could lead to guarantee’s that those with the requisite qualifications are employed on direct contracts and also facilitate the use of apprentices and interns.

This can, in some way, help to address the issue of poor and unsafe work as was highlighted, for one, in the school building program, an issue that was first flagged by the construction/procurement group of ONE Cork and subsequently taken up by the teacher unions, in particular the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

Based on the issues already outlined of using procurement contracts as the vehicle for decent work and apprenticeships, I submitted a motion on February 16th 2021, to the Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Cork City Council, which stated the following;

“Recognising the stated goals of Cork City Council’s Strategic plan to make Cork a “learning city” and to retain a sustainable and skilled workforce, able to attract key businesses and investments to the Cork region, we propose that the City Council establish a mandatory provision, within every public procurement contract of €200,000 or above, which comprises a minimum of 3% of the contracted workforce to be in apprenticeship and/or other recognised traineeship/internship programmes.  This would ensure that local talent can be recruited, trained and retained within the local authority area, thus boosting local industries and businesses into the future.”

Although the contract value and percentages can be further explored, this is a model which works well in the UK and in some Nordic countries, and is something which we hope can be passed in all City and County Councils throughout the country via our network of SPC representatives.

The motion itself received unanimous support from the Committee and management have been asked to take whatever steps are needed to ensure that the Council will implement the policy and make good progress in the short term.

This motion is a template which can be adjusted to suit local needs and used across our network of SPC representatives to proactively promote decent work and opportunities for young people in our local communities.

Together with Fiona Dunne this is an initiative we will continue to develop over the coming months and provide regular updates to the Trades Council Network.

Barry Murphy
Deputy General Secretary

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