Colleges put the Games' safety first

18th April 2014 at 01:00
Institutions to train 2,000 for security posts at Glasgow 2014

London 2012 will probably be remembered for two things: the sporting glories of British athletes such as Mo Farah and Sir Chris Hoy, and the embarrassing security debacle in the days before the opening ceremony.

In the run-up to the Games, concerns about a shortfall of security personnel dominated the media even more than speculation over Team GB's medal prospects. The army was even drafted in to make up the numbers and allay fears of terrorist attacks.

It is precisely these sorts of headlines that the organisers of Glasgow 2014, the 20th Commonwealth Games, are desperately hoping to avoid and they have turned to the Scottish further education sector for help.

The Scottish Funding Council has provided pound;3 million to train 2,000 people from across Scotland to add to the pool of available skilled staff for roles such as door supervisors and stewards when the event begins in less than 100 days' time.

Colleges were able to bid for a portion of the money and training is now taking place at a dozen institutions in places including Fife, Ayrshire and Glasgow itself.

Some students have already completed training, gained their security industry licence and got jobs with companies in the sector. Now they are training to be "Games ready".

Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, told TESS: "Both education and sport have the power to transform people's lives. We're trying to bring the two together as much as we can as part of the legacy of Glasgow 2014. This is a great scheme with practical benefits for both the Games organisers and for students who have the option of this course in addition to their other studies."

Danny Logue, operations director at Skills Development Scotland, said: "With the large number of security jobs on offer through the Games, it is important that we equip people with the skills required to take advantage of these opportunities.

"The initiative is not only helping to support up to 20 per cent of Games security professionals coming from the further education sector, but it's giving people a nationally recognised qualification that will stay with them beyond the Games' closing ceremony."

Police Scotland's Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen, security director for the Games, said the staff would be trained to the standard required for accreditation by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). "In the longer term, the scheme also increases people's opportunities for work and for the security industry in Scotland to manage major events," he added.

All three Glasgow colleges are involved in the scheme. A spokeswoman for Glasgow Kelvin College said it was delivering two qualifications: understanding stewarding at spectator events and door supervisor training. It is also providing support to students with their SIA licence application.

The courses have been aimed in particular at unemployed people in the community, as well as at the college's existing student body. "The skills delivered will not only allow learners to play a key role in a once-in-a-lifetime event, but also ensure that they are trained for the workplace well beyond the event itself," the spokeswoman said.

Stuart Millar, Ayrshire College business development director, said the courses offered a "fantastic" opportunity. "Not only are we assisting the participants in learning skills and gaining experience to work at the event but we are also helping them to develop a career in the security industry," he said.

The college has run 10 classes since February for 140 trainees recruited from across Ayrshire.

Katie-Louise Rooney, who completed the course at Fife College, said she had enrolled after struggling to find work since graduating from university. "The course gives you the basics in a number of topics, including health, first-aid and safety. It's a great qualification to have on your CV," she said.

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