Encore IT Services Pty Ltd (Encore IT) is a labour hire entity which provides Information Technology and Communication (ICT) labour hire workers to government clients. According to Austender statistics in 2022/2023, Encore won a total of 132 contracts with an average value of $718,000. These labour hire workers are supported by a head office team of 5-6 workers who are engaged in recruitment, contract negotiation, financial and other administrative activities.
As a socially responsible business, Encore IT recognises the importance of its role in providing Indigenous Australians with more opportunities to gain independence through participation in the economy, specifically in this case in the ICT labour hire industry.
Indigenous people In Australia suffer grossly disproportionate rates of disadvantage against all measures of socio-economic status. Encore IT acknowledges that it has a responsibility to seek to identify methods for redressing this disadvantage and has developed this Indigenous Participation Policy in direct response to this need.
Commonwealth Government Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP)
Encore IT is aware that the Commonwealth Government has developed an Indigenous Procurement Policy with the express purpose of increasing the rate of purchasing from Indigenous enterprises. Key aspects of this policy include:
- Annual targets for the volume and value of contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses by the Commonwealth and by each portfolio;
- Mandatory Set Aside (MSA) targets which ensure that Indigenous businesses are given an opportunity to demonstrate value for money before a general approach to market. The MSA applies to procurements to be delivered in remote Australia and for all other procurements wholly delivered in Australia valued between $80,000 and $200,000 (GST inclusive).
- Mandatory Minimum Participation Indigenous Requirement targets for Indigenous employment and business participation for contracts wholly delivered in Australia valued at $7.5 million or more in 19 industries.
Understanding Commonwealth Labour Hire Procurement Process
The procurement of labour hire workers by government entities is governed by Commonwealth Government Procurement Guidelines.
The procurement process typically follows the below steps:
- Commonwealth Government client issues Approach to Market (also known as Request for Quotation) to labour hire providers for labour hire workers with specific skills to fulfill a skills gap in the client’s business;
- Labour hire providers search their databases and/or advertise for suitability skilled candidates;
- Labour hire providers identify and shortlist most suitable candidates;
- Labour hire entities prepare applications for particular labour hire roles using standard response form developed by labour hire entity;
- Government clients receive submissions, check for compliance and shortlist candidates;
- Labour hire entities may be requested to organise interviews (referee reports may or may not be required. If required, they may be either be conducted by the government client or provided by the labour hire entity);
- Government client selects the preferred candidate and makes an offer of engagement to the labour hire entity;
- Labour hire entity checks the availability of the candidate and accepts the offer for engagement from the Commonwealth Government client;
- Labour hire entity arranges pre-engagement clearances and signs contract with the successful labour hire candidate;
- In the case that client requires the labour hire worker beyond the initial contract, the labour hire entity negotiates extension option/new contract with the client.
Encore’s Responsibility to Commonwealth Government Clients
Encore has a long-established publicly published policy of welcoming applications from all sectors of the community. However, at the same time, the business is expected to carefully match potential candidate’s skills with the skills required by the government client. While Encore has a responsibility to provide opportunities for candidates from diverse backgrounds, it also has a responsibility to its government clients to present the most suitably skilled candidates for the advertised role.
Application of IPP to Encore’s Business Model
Encore is strictly a labour hire entity and only ever engages with individuals labour hire workers as independent contractors. Encore’s policy is not to engage with subcontractor businesses which themselves seek and provide labour hire workers to labour hire entities. This policy is due to the fact that these arrangements typically rob the procurement process of transparency, which is one of the fundamental principles underpinning Encore’s business. Given that Encore only engages with individuals and not businesses means that Encore is, by definition, excluded from MSA and MRR requirements. While Encore does not engage with Indigenous businesses, it does have the opportunity to improve the outcomes for individuals identifying as Indigenous Australians.
Support for Labour Hire Candidates Identifying as an Indigenous Australian
It is widely acknowledged that the process of preparing applications for ICT labour hire roles can be cumbersome and difficult to understand. As a result, this may pose a significant barrier for many people from diverse backgrounds, in particular for Indigenous Australians. Encore seeks to break down this barrier in a number of ways:
- Offering potential candidates the opportunity to identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander during the application process;
- Where the candidate identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Encore’s Recruitment Manager will offer additional support in preparing their application such as:
(i) Advice on structure and format of candidate’s resume;
(ii) Advice on and help with the preparation of selection criteria;
(iii) Proof reading applications;
(iv)Seeking feedback on behalf of the candidate (where possible) in the case of a negative outcome.
Ultimately, Encore has no control over the candidates its government clients deem to be successful. However, with support Encore can play a significant role in maximining the chances of an Indigenous Australian applicant being found successful.
Further information regarding the Commonwealth Government’s IPP and its compliance requirements for Australian businesses can be found at: Indigenous Procurement Policy | National Indigenous Australians Agency (niaa.gov.au)