HAE first met Billy Black from the DFP Northern Ireland, Central Procurement Directorate on 2 July 2013 when Gill Bridger, HAE Operations Manager and a few HAE members were given the opportunity to explain to Billy and his team the process and benefits of the SafeHire Certification Scheme in relation to procurement selection criteria.
As various changes and announcements came through from DFPNI CPD regarding supply chain selection criteria, HAE invited Billy to attend a members’ event to address some of these changes and to learn more about the SafeHire Certification Scheme now that it has become part of HAE’s membership requirement – setting higher standards and proving competence in hire operations.
Billy’s presentation to members and invited guests was entitled “Creating more opportunities for SMEs to win Public Sector Contracts” with the key points being:-
An introduction to Public Procurement; the Procurement Process; Promoting Opportunities for SMEs and Collaborative Contracts – Vehicles and Plant Hire Services.
CPD has issued guidance aimed at helping SMEs and is working with partners to assist SME participation. Tendering workshops are being provided by local councils and business network organisations.
Central government tender opportunities in NI over £30k in value are advertised online on the eTendersNI portal: http://etendersni.gov.uk/
Billy highlighted how HAE is recognised under the Selection Criteria (see below) and will now be working towards including the SafeHire Certification Scheme within this list.
We then heard from Stephen Kane, Managing Director of Ridgeway – a company that has been a HAE member for almost 40 years and is Certified to the SafeHire Standard. It was around 6 years ago when John Armstrong of CEF asked Stephen to consider joining the council of the CIG (Construction Industry Group) to represent HAE and the hire industry in Northern Ireland. Stephen knew little of the CIG at that time but over the last few tough years has recognised the importance of being involved in something to try and make a difference for everyone’s benefit not just sit on the fence and complain all the time!
Stephen added: “The hire industry in Northern Ireland has continued to invest heavily to support customers and adapt to the changes needed to operate in new territory and new sectors. We are an essential industry to our construction industry as our customers rely on us to have reliable , modern , cost effective plant and equipment inventories to allow them to function with more cash, more yard space and less maintenance, we very much are a key link in the supply chain!!
The standards, regulations, training, and compliance we adopt, such as SAFEHIRE, set trade bench marks that we should call for on contracts , contractors and sub contractors to use for public works in particular, to recognise and reward the excellence within the local hire industry.
Amanda Stevenson, Project Manager with CITB NI presented on the support being given by CITB to address the industry’s skills shortages and HAE introduced delegates to its Future Hirers initiative – a programme to promote the many careers available within the hire industry with visits to schools, FE establishments and a partnership with DWP, Job Centre Plus offices throughout the UK.
Finally, Graham Arundell presented on the SafeHire Certification Scheme highlighting how the scheme benefits hire and rental businesses, of all sizes, and how HAE will support its members in achieving this highly acclaimed industry standard.
HAE will soon be announcing the date for the next, free to attend, very popular SafeHire Essentials Workshop being arranged for members in Northern Ireland.
The event also provided an excellent opportunity to meet with association members and colleagues from the wider industry.