A new training package will help local small and medium sized businesses in construction and other industries more effectively prepare to tender for public sector contracts, the state government in South Australia believes.

Announcing $60,000 in funding for the program at the first in a series of ‘Meet the Buyer’ events, Small Business Minister Tom Kenyon says Business SA will use the money to develop a special training package designed to help local businesses understand the processes involved in tendering for government contracts and develop tenders which present their case and address required criteria more effectively.

“Business SA will use this funding to develop a new type of ‘Tender Ready’ scheme in collaboration with other industry associations to develop a program providing local companies with an improved understanding of tender processes and assessment criteria,” he said.

“The new program will also assist them to draft better tender responses, how to demonstrate value for money and innovation in bid responses and how to make better presentations and interviews to assessment panels.”

The announcement came last week at the first Meet the Buyer event, which focused on the building and construction sector and was attended by representatives of more than 150 companies and 40 senior government buyers.

Kenyon says the event was the first of four sessions which have been set up to allow local companies to meet face to face with senior buyers, project managers and procurement staff.

Upcoming sessions are planned for goods and services, advanced technologies and major construction projects – of which the state government has 304 underway or in the pipeline with a total value of $94 million according to the most recent major projects directory published by the government last April.

The latest initiative comes amid ongoing debate about state governments supporting local industry by encouraging them to win public sector work.

In recent years, state governments in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia as well as the federal government have gradually moved away from large ‘big bang’ deals which typically favoured multi-national suppliers in favour of smaller, tailored deals.

Kenyon says the latest initiatives are aimed addressing challenges associated with the cost and complexity of preparing tender bids – key issues he says small business has indicated are holding them back.

“Small business is telling us that understanding what agencies want and producing better tender documents is often a barrier to winning work from government,” he said.