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Home > News > January 2005 > 25-Jan-2005

LSDA chief highlights skills opportunities arising from Olympic bid

Andrew Thomson, the new chief executive of the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) has highlighted the opportunity that the British bid to host the 2012 Olympics presents for people involved in the skills drive.

Speaking at Olympic opportunities, a conference organised by London 2012 on 17th January, Thomson said, "The staging of the Olympics and the Paralympics brings the chance to develop the potential and skills many thousands of people beyond the athletes themselves.

"In this country, at the moment, there is an enormous amount of effort going into the successful development of our skills base. This work is vital for our future economic prosperity but it is also vital for reasons of social cohesion and, indeed, fairness and equality of opportunity. This work will continue whether or not London wins the bid.

"Let nobody be in any doubt that we do have the skills base in the UK to deliver a successful Olympics. But for a huge event of this kind you need an additional supply of skilled people, in many different sectors, that goes well beyond normal demands. Work on enhancing the UK’s skills base has already started. It is gathering steam. This is an opportunity for a step change in demand for skills as well as for sustainable, long term regeneration. It will accelerate what is already taking place."

The skills opportunities arising from the campaign to host the 2012 Olympics are many and varied, he said. There will be a demand for skilled people in construction, transport, leisure, hospitality, tourism, languages, media, design and the “softer skills” of communication, customer service and team work.

Thomson said the government has identified many of these as priority areas for investment to meet expected future demand and, therefore, there is an overlap between what the country needs and what the Olympics need. "The Games would therefore offer an opportunity to accelerate programmes and improvements in our skills base that are already underway and for us to help colleges and providers to raise their game even further to meet the Olympic challenge. And The jobs that people do before and during the Games require training and skills that would equip them for other jobs afterwards."

But as well as the skills opportunity created by the Games themselves, there is the skills opportunity created through economic regeneration, he added.

"If the investment in infrastructure is part of a wider economic regeneration, they create the context for more effective society, reducing disaffection. This is the basis of sustainable improvements. Iin London and beyond the regeneration from the Games can make a real and lasting difference to communities."

Other speakers at the London 2012 conference included: Tessa Jowell, MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Sebastian Coe, OBE, Chairman London 2012; and Sir Steve Redgrave, CBE, Chairman, Athletes’ Advisory Group.

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