From education to employment

Skills Minister Phil Hope MP Tours Site for 2012 Games

The Olympics are coming!

The construction has begun to prepare London for the month long stay of the greatest sporting event on Earth that touches down in the summer of 2012. In preparation for this event, the East of London is set to receive a fairly comprehensive makeover in building and transport infrastructure. A significant portion of the Olympean effort in London will rely on the provision of a workforce in construction, hospitality, tourism, and languages that is skilled for the challenge.

The Government would appear to be taking this matter seriously. The Skills Minister, Phil Hope MP, visited the site for the Olympic Park this week, meeting with the Chairman of the London Employment and Skills Taskforce Jeremy Long to guage the progress made. He also met representatives and trainees from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Thames Gateway, Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) responsible for building services, engineering and facilities management, and of course the London Development Agency (LDA).

Building for London

Speaking during his visit of the site, one year on from London’s victory in the bidding process, the Skills Minister Phil Hope MP made it plain that he sees this as the front line for putting on the best Olympics in history. He said: “Hosting the Games is a great opportunity for us to show the world that we have the skills and organisation to deliver a top-quality major event. All agree that people and their skills are key to the success of the Games. The priority for the Government though is to ensure that everyone benefits through the Games and beyond 2012.

“The 2012 London Olympics is a real and significant opportunity to drive up skills, not only in London, but nationwide,” continued the Minister. “We will need to draw on resources well beyond London in order to meet our skills needs. We want to work with employers and others to make sure any problems London faces are tackled. The Government is investing massively in skills and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has £1.4billion to spend on skills in London.”

The real challenge for the Games will come in the Autumn of 2012. The skills funding that will be ploughed into the event is laudable, as this is a chance to showcase all that London’s rich cultural and social diversity has to offer. This is a showcase event, a once in a lifetime chance to demonstrate that London can take its place as the centre of the world ““ for a month, at any rate!

However, the “once in a lifetime” event has a fixed duration; the people living and working in London and in the UK have a lifetime lasting many times longer. Attention must be paid to the broader problems facing us if we are not to be left with an empty Olympic park acting as testimony to money poured into one month and not into sustainable skills increases.

Jethro Marsh

Swing from the branches with the FE monkey in From the FE Trenches!

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