The St. Louis County Council hasvoted to do away with a requirement made of bidders on public contracts, following advocacy by some in the minority- and woman-owned business community.
Prior to the change, companies bidding on county contracts were required to have or be affiliated with an apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. Going forward, this will no longer be a requirement, which may in many cases make contracting with the county easier for smaller, more disadvantaged firms which can often encounter difficulties in trying to be involved with such apprentice programs.
The vote on the requirement has followed the release of a study which found that, during the period from 2012 to 2015, MWBEs received only 0.2 percent of the total contracting dollars spent during that period. It is argued that MWBEs will have a better chance of receiving prime contracts if they are eligible to do so without the apprenticeship program. Advocates have argued that alternatives to traditional apprenticeship programs, such as existing trade schools and job training programs, will be able to fill the needs that apprenticeship programs have filled.
The bill has now been passed to County Executive Steve Stenger for his signature.