By Marcus Leach
More needs to be done to maximise the number of low-skilled and unemployed Londoners who might get work at the 2012 Games, a new report from the London Assembly says.
The report, by the Assembly’s Economy, Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee highlights four key hurdles which need to be overcome to help those furthest from the jobs market into one of almost 200,000 Games-time roles.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), and its contractors, aim to recruit more than 100,000 people for jobs including catering, cleaning, waste, security, hospitality, tourism and leisure. They will be joined by up to 70,000 volunteers.
The main hurdles identified by the Committee include:
- Disincentives in the benefits system
- More competition in the labour market due to the effects of the recession
- Uncertainty around future funding for local employment support programmes
- Uncertainty around the impact of the new Work Programme in London
Len Duvall AM, Deputy Chair of the ECS Committee said:
“With almost 200,000 opportunities up for grabs, the Games could be a fantastic boost for Londoners struggling to find a job, helping them gain valuable experience and get a foothold on the employment ladder.
“There are some good examples of voluntary and community-led support schemes operating at a local level, but uncertainty still remains about funding and the introduction of the new Work Programme.
“Whether paid or voluntary, many people aspire to be a part of the Games and our recommendations set out the key actions needed to capitalise on the opportunity, both for 2012 and beyond.”
The report warns that the recession has made the jobs market more competitive and uncertainty over long-term funding for employment support programmes may further widen the gap between those in and out work. It is calling on the Mayor and the Host Boroughs to ensure that the new Work Programme, which is geared towards getting applicants into long-term jobs, should not overlook short-term Games-time roles.
The report also calls on JobCentre Plus to do more to ensure that the benefits system does not discourage recipients from taking on Games-time roles, which may only last up to three months. At present, applicants can face delays in reclaiming their benefits when short-term jobs come to an end, potentially leaving them out of pocket.
The Committee is calling on the Mayor, Host Boroughs and LOCOG to work closer with the voluntary and community sector to identify vacancies and recruit more workers from the various welfare-to-work schemes.
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