Employers highlight skills issue in run up to Olympics

More skilled workers are needed if the UK is to host the Olympics in 2012, according to almost two-thirds of employers in the leisure, hospitality, travel and tourism industries.

Sector skills council People 1st surveyed employers, trade associations, colleges and government organisations in the leisure, hospitality, travel and tourism industries to mark last week’s arrival in London of the International Olympic Committee’s bid evaluation team.

The survey revealed that 73% of respondents want the government to ensure employers know what training courses and qualifications are available for staff; 70% want the training and qualifications system to be easier to understand; and 60% believe more skilled workers are needed.

Brian Wisdom, chief executive officer of People 1st, said that with seven years to go, the UK had the capability to host the Olympics, but really needed to address the skills issue if it is to succeed.

“What employers need is the right people, with the right skills at the right time,” he said. “There’s a responsibility on business to invest in training, but equally we need to ensure qualifications and training are matched to employers’ needs.”

The leisure, hospitality, travel and tourism industries, which generate in excess of 74bn a year, employ around two million people in more than 200,000 organisations. But if London is successful in its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games up to 11,000 new jobs could be created, according to the organisers of the bid.

John Biggs, deputy chairman of the London Development Agency, said the games would “provide a fantastic opportunity” to give local people greater skills, particularly in areas of construction, IT and hospitality.

Bid organisers have vowed to leave London a long-term legacy from the Olympics. The final bid promised ethical employment policies, involving training courses and use of local skilled workers.


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