Sunday, June 21, 2009

Games won't boost Glasgow jobs market in long term, says expert

THE 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will not provide the lasting boost to the jobs market that the city hopes for, says an economic report.
Samy Ahmar, an Edinburgh economist specialising in sporting projects, warns that both the Commonwealth and Olympic games rarely leave a legacy of long-term, sustainable employment.

While thousands of jobs may be created through the construct
ion of venues and during the actual event, Ahmar argues that the employment benefit is likely to be "entirely transitory". He expects most jobs to vanish within two years of the games being held.

The study is based on the effect that nine previous Commonwealth and Olympic games had on employment rates in their host cities. After the Barcelona Olympics of 1992, for example, the employment rate fell back to its pre-Games level less than 18 months after the event was held.

The report, which the author says could also apply to the London 2012 Olympics, cautions that in several cases, events failed to deliver the thousands of jobs promised by organising committees.

Ahmar said organisers of Glasgow 2014 must ensure that more investment is focused on projects such as infrastructure, which will continue to serve and provide jobs for the local community decades after the event has passed. He said sporting venues, which often suck up vast sums of the budget, rarely provide significant employment opportunities after the games are over.

"Investments on long-lasting infrastructures designed to improve long-term regional economic efficiency are more desirable from a social point of view than giant sporting facilities that will struggle to find an appropriate post-Games use since they are more likely to generate additional employment in the longer term by enhancing the region's competitiveness and attractiveness," the report warns.

Ahmar suggested that the unemployment rate in Glasgow could even rise if thousands of jobseekers flock to the city in anticipation of finding work.

"The prospect of a major sporting event could easily attract masses and masses of people and more than is required to get the games up and running," he said.

Several groups have questioned the long-term legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games after Glasgow beat Abuja in Nigeria to the bid in November 2007. At the time it was estimated that the games would cost £288 million and create at least 1,200 jobs, with scope for thousands more.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce raised similar concerns last year about whether the Games would stimulate a long-term jobs market in and around Glasgow's East End, where the Athletes' Village is to be built.

But a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said the Games will raise the city's international profile and likely encourage more businesses to set up or relocate to the area. He said: "The council is confident that the Games will generate many jobs in Glasgow and across Scotland in the preparations for 2014, and the post-event legacy of this will include a greater skills base for individuals and businesses, widened trading networks for firms, a higher international profile and a more attractive environment for people to locate homes and businesses.

"There is huge investment in infrastructure already taking place in the city that will support the Commonwealth Games – including the M74, the East End Regeneration Route and the work of Clyde Gateway – and a new neighbourhood will be created after the Games. We are in no doubt that the benefits of the 2014 Commonwealth Games will be felt in the city and country long after the last of the athletes have gone."

The spokesman added that 70 per cent of the venues for the Commonwealth Games are already in place, although many will need to be adapted for the event.

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