by Ian Vallely
I believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion!
Training for the Olympics
The Olympic bid was won on the promise of real jobs for local people, and the Games certainly have the potential to deliver this as well as a significant skills legacy for the UK.
As I write this the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony remains 276 days, six hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds away. It sounds like enough time to prepare for what is set to be a terrific sporting celebration for the country, as well as a tremendous opportunity to showcase the very best in British design and construction on a world stage.
Being ready on time has literally demanded an Olympian effort from all those involved in delivering the London Games. Things have gone relatively well so far (if you discount the eye watering overspend on the Olympics facilities). However, keeping the project on track between now and the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012 requires tens of thousands of construction workers, among them an estimated 13,400 building services employees.
The Olympic bid was won on the promise of sustainable regeneration with the prospect of real jobs for local people, and the Games certainly have the potential to deliver a skills legacy for the UK.
In an upbeat blog on The Independent newspaper’s website – which can be found at http://ind.pn/qr1WDC – Mark Farrar, chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills (the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board for the construction industry), says: “Even before work began on the Olympic Park, a plan was put in place by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to ensure that the build had the right ingredients to have a positive impact on skills within the construction industry that remains for years after the closing ceremony.
“The training infrastructure created for the host boroughs in East London used combined labour market intelligence from our Construction Skills Network, the ODA and regular dialogue with local employers, to ensure that skills delivered matched demand from businesses in the area. This, in turn, made sure that every trainee who was involved in the build enhanced their own employment opportunities and that value was added to the industry.”
Of course, the skills legacy provided by the Olympics needs to be part of a much wider commitment to training, something that seems to be lacking, judging by recent comments from Prime Minister David Cameron. He said: “When a balanced economy needs workers with skills, we need to end the old snobbery about vocational education and training. We’ve provided funding for 250,000 extra apprenticeships – but not enough big companies are delivering. So here’s a direct appeal if you want skilled employees, we’ll provide the funding, and we’ll cut the red tape. But you’ve got to show more leadership and give us the apprenticeships we need.”
At least we are on track as far as the Olympics are concerend. Mr Farrar has the last word: “Regardless of where Team GB finishes on the medal table at the Games next year, we have certainly delivered a title-winning performance for skills and training in the construction and built environment industry.”