Jisc has launched the first national eMarketplace for the Work Based Learning (WBL) sector. It will ease the purchasing process and offer savings of up to 20%.
GeM for WBL is a website offering users savings on everyday products and services via quality-assured suppliers and negotiated contracts. All suppliers have been carefully chosen for their competitive prices and level of service to the WBL sector, giving users the reassurance that they can buy with confidence.
With independent training providers spending, on average, £170 million per year on procuring products and services, this is a welcome initiative for the growing WBL sector. Users can initially gain savings on a wide range of office equipment including furniture, stationery and uniforms via the website’s first supplier, Office Depot. Other suppliers will follow shortly and will focus on typical high-spend items for the WBL sector including:
- Awarding Organisations
- Print and copying
- IT Hardware and support
- Specialist (by curriculum) materials and equipment
- Travel (hotels, car hire and car leasing)
A number of training providers have already had a sneak preview of the site whilst piloting the service. Carl Johnson, Finance Director at the Training for Travel Group Ltd said: “We did a full cost analysis of our 20 top ordered items in comparison to the two stationery providers that we use and found that we would get a 39% saving with Office Depot. This amazed us as we had been using local suppliers and had spent a long time negotiating the prices down. Add to that the online ordering system, quick delivery and range of products..."
Paul Warner, director of employment and skills at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the national membership organisation representing the WBL sector, said: "Healthy cash flow is as vital as ever for work based learning providers when margins are tight. The GeM for WBL service could therefore be a critical tool in helping to minimise outgoings and I encourage AELP members to check it out, especially as it's free!"
The service - being led by Jisc Advance and using breakthrough cloud technology from @UK PLC - is free for training providers  to use. It is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and supported by AELP. Local WBL provider networks have been crucial in shaping the service with the Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network being a key project partner.
Guy Lambert, CEO of Jisc Advance said: “This new service is based on the established GeM service for higher and further education which has helped institutions buy more competitively and simply over the last year, saving money both on external spend and internal administration. We are therefore delighted that we can now offer a service to training providers which combines these efficiency savings with access for the first time to nationally-negotiated contracts, thus providing a double benefit.”
Ronald Duncan, chairman of @UK PLC comments: “Jisc is once again leading the way with this new and innovative service that will transform the relationship between training providers and suppliers. We are delighted to be providing our unique technology to help achieve this transformation.”
 Providers of work based learning include Independent Training Providers, Further Education Colleges, Local Authorities and Employers. The main focus of this project is to get Independent Training Providers to use this service as at present they are unable to access any national purchasing agreements. All of the other three subsets have access to their own aggregate procurement arrangements.