Kickstarting careers: Procurement of the Smart, Skilled and Hired Youth Employment Program

The Client: NSW Government - Department of Industry

The situation – Procurement from a market that not yet exists

The Smart, Skilled and Hired Youth Employment Program (YE Program) helps young people and local businesses in rural NSW. Young people become work ready and kickstart a fulfilling career by connecting to training, mentoring, work experience placements and other support to build their skills and experience. Local businesses that provide opportunities for young people benefit from access to job-ready employees with the skills they need for their businesses.

The YE Program was designed to be delivered by Prime Contractors who coordinate a range of subcontractors to deliver meaningful interventions that directly and indirectly lead to employment. Payment for these Prime Contracts was to be contingent upon the achievement of outcomes. This means that the full payment for a participant would only flow to the provider if the participant sustained work for at least six months.

This approach to delivering government services is widely known in the UK but is a first for the NSW Government. It is also a first for the market of potential service providers who have in the past been used to receiving grants, rather than being held to account for finding suitable program participants and achieving contracted outcomes.

The project – A commissioning approach to a high stakes procurement project

Our client recognised the high stakes nature of procuring to-date non-existing services from a non-existing market in rural NSW and engaged Grosvenor to run the end-to-end procurement stream for this program. A steering group with stakeholders from a wide range of NSW Government agencies was set up (including DOI, Treasury, Family and Community Services, and Aboriginal Affairs).

The project started with industry consultations in each region to understand what capacity and capabilities exist within the service provider market in rural NSW. In a series of workshops, the most appropriate market approach was chosen, along with the commercial model and performance management mechanisms.

Instead of detailed specifications, we developed documentation that clearly described what the problems were that YE Program was designed to address and how success will be measured and rewarded. We then provided the best data available about the target cohort for the program.

It was left to the market to design the best interventions and the cost per participants in order to place participants in work. After all, the providers know the regions best and have worked with the target cohorts before. In a co-design phase, DoI and the service providers put in place the details required to mitigate the risks associated with the project and the ensure each provider was set up for success from day one.

The outcome – More employed young adults aged 16 to 24

The program was fully up and running by the start of FY18. Ten service providers have since placed hundreds of participants in work and delivered sustainable social and commercials benefits to the community of young people (15 to 24 years) and businesses in Western Sydney, the Central Coast and Hunter, New England/North West and the North Coast.

For more information on the Smart Skilled and Hired Program, please visit

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Stefan Gassner

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