What made London’s bid for the Olympic Games so strong was the legacy it will leave behind. Not only will the area see a massive boost in terms of the regeneration work and infrastructure, but work on the project to build the Olympic site will also create a local base of skilled workers.
The area around the site has suffered from under-investment for many years. The Olympics will turn things around for the people who live nearby, and we can hope to see building work going on after the games have finished. I think generator hire firms will make a significant contribution to the project, and will in turn benefit from the revitalisation of the region.
When it comes to winning work to help build for the Games, the project is going to be so big that I can see everybody in the area getting a piece of the pie. Now that the Olympic Delivery Authority has selected the CLM Consortium as preferred bidder, the main contractors will be discussing how to divide the work up.
The general feeling in the plant hire business is that everyone is expecting a significant increase in work. Companies have now set up a special division for promoting themselves to the organisers of the Games, and are creating new roles for business development managers to look after the Olympics as a special account.
It’s going to be an ideal opportunity to provide generators. In order to construct a project on the scale of the Olympics, there will be a lot of tower cranes, and unless there’s a mains cable onsite, a lot of power will be required. To get some idea of the scale of the project – the Paradise Street project in Liverpool has at least 20 tower cranes, and this project is going to be much, much bigger.
On top of the work to build infrastructure for the Olympic project, the event itself will provide a great opportunity for generator hire companies. The site will host a massive temporary event, with a lot of power needed for running the Games; from marquees to media centres.
As I said before, I’m confident there will be enough work for everyone to get some. Having said that, the work that plant hire companies have already done for the main contractors, perhaps through preferred supplier relationships, could lead to a natural progression when it comes to winning work for the Olympics. That’s not to say there won’t be an element of tendering for new contracts though. We’re still looking a few years into the future and we know a lot can develop between companies in that time.
Winning business will be basic sales work really. As with any other job, companies will have to make presentations to them and show what they can do. Plant hire firms will have to talk about how they can work alongside contractors to make this huge project a success.
But let’s not forget, people are the most important part of our business. The extra work for our industry will create opportunities for maintenance, delivery and servicing the kit.
London is a notoriously difficult place to recruit people, and the availability of labour is scarce. Even when you have recruited new staff, there can be a problem with staff retention, as ours can be the kind of industry where people will move quickly between firms if they think a job isn’t working out.
Then there’s the problem of where to recruit from. Overall there seems to be a shortage of skilled trades in construction. Recruiting people from overseas has been pretty well documented in the construction industry, but it hasn’t been as prominent on the plant hire side. For the service-based roles, we tend to recruit people with experience of generators or of electrical and mechanical experience. If the industry did look to recruit overseas workers, it could be a question of getting staff with the right qualifications and making sure there are no language barriers when communicating onsite to keep the highest standards of health and safety.
Training is going to be a key part of carrying out the extra work generated by the Olympics, and will help to create a skills base of people. Companies already invest in their own staff through apprenticeships and courses organised by the Construction Industry Training Board. The people who manufacture the generators even provide training. But if Olympics are to be delivered on time, the government will have to look closely at investing heavily to train up the local workforce over the next few years.