APRIL 9 - LONDON 2012 is having a major effect on the sports jobs market and how sports bodies operate, according to the head of a leading recruitment company.
Leigh Hine, head of Public Sports at London-based Sports Recruitment International, said: "The announcement that London had won the Games gave the whole nation a lift and although there have since been budgetary and planning issues which have inspired negative headlines, the fact that the Games are coming has been the catalyst for a re-focus at all levels of sport.
"The Games have had the sort of galvanising impact on sport that Government policy has never had.
"They will happen on a definite date and can’t be put off or delayed.
"That means that everybody involved in sport has to concentrate on the opportunity right now or risk letting it pass by."
Hine said he has observed a significant change in the approach of the UK sports community to recruitment issues since the day in Singapore in July 2005 when London was granted the right to host the Games.
Some of the old established practices have been blown away because of an understanding that
everybody has to raise their game if they are going to benefit fully from the advantages the Games will deliver in terms of finance and exposure, he claimed.
Hine said: "At the senior and middle ranges of public sport the emphasis has shifted from simply filling roles with whoever happens to be available, to going all-out to find the best possible candidate.
"That means, among other things, that the sector has become more open to candidates from other areas of commerce and industry, so long as they have the skills and capabilities to do the best possible job."
There has long been an understanding that administrators and executives whose experience was
confined to sport may not always be the best candidates for today’s senior sports roles which demand a higher level of commercial acumen and broader managerial skill-base, Hine claimed.
He said: "The prospect of the Olympic Games in 2012, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, has accelerated the understanding that sports bodies have to operate as businesses.
"Those on the boards of these organisations have become more professional in their approach to recruitment issues and are applying the same criteria to their sports bodies as they would to their own businesses.
"Instead of simply putting the word out on the grapevine that they have a role to fill, they are become
more accustomed to using an intermediary to ensure that they identify and attract the righ candidate."
Evidence for this trend comes from Sports Recruitment International’s own files, Hine said.
They have recruited five chief executives, or their equivalents, for UK public sports bodies in the last five months, an unprecedented number.
Hine said: "Because these bodies understand that they have to have the best people they are coming as a means of getting beyond the historic sports closed shop.
"We provide a range of constancy services based around finding the best candidates, from writing job specs and advertisements to organising and structuring the interview process.
"Often clients don’t have any particular expertise in interviewing and this is another area where they may need help.
"We make a point of getting to know the candidates well beyond the interview.
"After all, many people can interview well for an hour or so but that doesn’t always mean they are right for a given role."
According to Hine, the legacy of the London Olympic Games will extend way beyond new facilities and infrastructure.
There will, he says, also be a legacy of business best practice and the first tell-tale signs
are already in place.
He said: "We are already seeing the transfer of skills, understanding and knowledge to a certain extent thanks to the BOA / FTSE initiative which was set up to enable sports bodies to learn form the country’s leading businesses.
"And you only have to look around to see how individual organisations and the sector in general are benefiting from the arrival of senior executives able to draw on a broader range of experience and influence from the world of business.
"That simply has to be positive for the future of sport and in many cases it has been the prospect of
staging an Olympic Games which has provided the impetus for change."
While the Olympic Games is likely to have the greatest impact for obvious reasons of size, the impact of major events on the sports jobs market is not restricted to those cities and countries fortunate enough to stage the Games, Hine said.
He said every event creates new opportunities, both for the indigenous workforce and for the developing breed of events specialists whose skills are essential to making big events happen.
The net effect of any sizeable event should be a growth in the local skill base which raises the bar on professionalism in the sports sector.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com