Public sector push to upgrade procurement skills, grow talent pool

Ian Bushnell 24 June 2021
APCC CEO Teresa Scott

APCC CEO Executive Director Teresa Scott: “We believe a more educated procurement profession will deliver better and more effective outcomes for the community.” Photo: APCC.

Public sector agencies across Australian and New Zealand are joining forces to raise the bar on the skills and qualifications of the people involved in the increasingly complex business of procuring goods and services and contracting out big infrastructure projects.

This week the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) and partnering peak associations launched a campaign to promote procurement as a distinct profession and attract new entrants, as well as upgrade training, including moves towards a dedicated undergraduate degree so graduates are more job ready.

Australian jurisdictions and New Zealand have settled on a set of common standards for a procurement profession and released a Public Sector Procurement Profession Role Statement and Procurement Capability Framework that identify what the job is and skills required.

It comes amid a shortage of procurement professionals and an urgent need to expand the pool of talent, just as governments have had to ramp up responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and launch major infrastructure programs to revive economies.

APCC Council Chair Glenn Bain said this was the first time procurement had been defined with a professional standard for the Australian and New Zealand public sector.

“The release of the Procurement Role Statement and the Procurement Capability Framework is timely as governments strive to leverage their spend through procurement to deliver a range of economic, environmental and social outcomes as well as stimulating the economy and supporting fiscal repair,” he said.

“Recognition and investment in core capabilities to support the procurement workforce will also help strengthen Australia’s economic productivity over the longer term.”

APCC Executive Director Teresa Scott said procurement was now a multi-level activity that was more than just getting the best price or achieving only one goal, and officers are being asked to do a lot more.


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A range of factors such as social benefits and environmental sustainability often had to be considered and built in early in a project in order to get the best value for the nation, she said.

“You need that whole of framework approach, including across the procurement lifecycle, and also those critical skills – industry engagement, business and public sector law and how they interact and the risk,” Ms Scott said.

“We believe a qualified procurement profession will deliver better and more effective outcomes for the community.”

And while there are some specific post-graduate qualifications such those at UNSW Canberra, an undergraduate degree – like law, accounting and engineering – specialising in procurement would be ideal in the long term.

Ms Scott said the procurement profession was looking for people with strong commercial and interpersonal skills.

“Many procurement skills are present in similar disciplines, such as accounting, law, economics and so forth, and individuals can, with some training, transition into a rewarding career in procurement,” she said.

The APCC would also be talking with stakeholders such as the various public service commissions so they understood the value of having a specialist profession like procurement.

Public sector agencies across Australian and NZ are joining forces to raise the bar on the skills and qualifications of the people involved in the increasingly complex business of buying goods and services and contracting out big infrastructure projects.

This week the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) and partnering peak associations launched a campaign to promote procurement as a distinct profession and attract new entrants, as well as upgrade training, including moves towards a dedicated undergraduate degree so graduates are more job ready.

Australian jurisdictions and NZ have settled on a set of common standards for a procurement profession and released a Public Sector Procurement Profession Role Statement and Procurement Capability Framework that identify what the job is and skills required.

It comes amid a shortage of procurement professionals and an urgent need to expand the pool of talent, just as governments have had to ramp up responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and launch major infrastructure programs to revive economies.

APCC Council Chair Glenn Bain said this was the first time procurement had been defined with a professional standard for the Australian and New Zealand public sector.

“The release of the Procurement Role Statement and the Procurement Capability Framework is timely as governments strive to leverage their spend through procurement to deliver a range of economic, environmental and social outcomes as well as stimulating the economy and supporting fiscal repair,” he said.

“Recognition and investment in core capabilities to support the procurement workforce will also help strengthen Australia’s economic productivity over the longer term.”

APCC Executive Director Teresa Scott said procurement was now a multi-level activity that was more than just getting the best price or achieving only one goal, and officers are being asked to do a lot more.

A range of factors such as social benefits and environmental sustainability often had to be considered and built in early in a project in order to get the best value for the nation, she said.

“You need that whole of framework approach, including across the procurement lifecycle, and also those critical skills – industry engagement, business and public sector law and how they interact and the risk,” Ms Scott said.

“We believe a more educated procurement profession will deliver better and more effective outcomes for the community.”

With a clearer picture of what those capabilities are, the public sector wanted to work with providers on upgrading training packages.

And while there are some specific post-graduate qualifications such those at UNSW Canberra, an undergraduate degree – like law, accounting and engineering – specialising in procurement would be ideal in the long term.

In fact, some units have already been mapped out but Ms Scott said a location would have to be settled on where there was strong demand and work with the particular university on building the course.

It could then be a model for similar degrees across other Australian and New Zealand campuses.

Ms Scott said the procurement profession was looking for people with strong commercial and interpersonal skills

She said the APPC would also be talking with stakeholders such as the various public service commissions so they understood the value of having a specialist profession like procurement.

A launch presentation can be found at the APCC website.


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