MPs and unions unite to call for focus on Olympic training

Employers bidding for 2012 Olympics contracts should be forced to include commitments on staff training in their proposals, MPs and union leaders said last week.

Speaking to Personnel Today at the 2012 Olympics Business Summit, held at Canary Wharf in London, John Spellar, chairman of the parliamentary construction committee, said contract winners should not be allowed to ignore skills issues.

“Companies should be told: ‘You want to do business, you will sign up to the training project’,” he said. “As well as infrastructure, there is a human capital legacy to the Olympics and, because of the length of the project, we need a steady flow of local skilled labour.”

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said that skills were key to the success of the games. He agreed that contracts should compel employers to include a requirement for training.

“Employers working on the Olympics project should be required, as a condition of winning their contract, to offer apprenticeship places to local people and provide training and skills development for all of their staff,” Barber said. “Champion employers already meet these standards and every company working on the Olympics should be a champion employer.”

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell did not make firm commitment on the training issue, but indicated that companies with good employment practices would have an edge in bidding for contracts. She told the summit that the government was “very keen that all the contracts [awarded for the games] are characterised by good employment practices”.

Jowell said the UK would use the 2000 Sydney Olympics employment practice framework, negotiated with business and trade union representatives, as a benchmark.

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