Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy: final evaluation report April 2018

This evaluation report of the Commonwealth Games 2014 legacy summarises previous findings and sets out new findings since the last report in 2015.

Chapter 3: The Economy, Employment, Training and Volunteering

The evidence from previous major events

The international evidence suggests that major events can leave economic legacies. However, the economic benefits are often short term, can be quite modest and any long term benefits are likely to be accrued through securing future events using the refurbished or new infrastructure. Short-term impacts have typically been found in the construction, hospitality and tourism sectors at particular phases of preparing for and delivering the event. In particular there is evidence that previous major sporting events have created a boost to employment in the run up to, and during, the event.

One of the challenges for an economic legacy identified in the literature is that employment opportunities may not be evenly distributed, with opportunities tending to go to those who already have required skills. Considering 'who benefits' needs careful development and implementation. Research evidence suggests this is often, inevitably, those living closest to the event, but also those with particular skills and expertise. A prospective assessment of the potential economic impacts in the east end of Glasgow also suggested that some economic impacts were plausible, although they were more likely to come from the long-term programme of event-led regeneration, rather than just the Games. [15]

While there is little international evidence of a long-term boost to tourism as a result of hosting major events, some cities and nations have experienced a boost to their reputation and profile, which may contribute to longer-term economic gains. Major events can, in theory, help boost infrastructure, capacity and business networks to attract future major events. While there is often an increase in the reputation of the host city as a result of a major sporting event, there is also potential for a negative impact on the image of a city or region if the event is not seen as a success, or if it highlights a perceived weakness of the city or nation.

Evidence also suggests there can be positive effects from volunteering at a major event. People who volunteer in major events often report an intention to volunteer again and report learning new skills and gains in confidence. There is, however, a body of evidence which suggests that those who gain volunteering positions at major sporting events tend to be those who already have key skills and tend to be regular volunteers at other events.

Key Findings from Glasgow 2014

Investment and return [16], [17]

  • The £530 million investment of the Glasgow 2014 related capital programme over the six years to 2014 is estimated to have supported, in gross terms, on average 1,100 jobs and contributed £50 million to Scotland's Gross Value Added ( GVA) in each year. Of this, the capital programme is estimated to have supported on average 600 jobs in Glasgow and contributed £30 million to Glasgow's GVA in each year.
  • The £473 million spend by the Organising Committee (Glasgow 2014 Ltd) over the eight years to 2014 to deliver the Games is estimated to have supported, in gross terms, on average 900 jobs and contributed £40 million to Scotland's GVA in each year. Of this, the spend is estimated to have supported on average 500 jobs in Glasgow and contributed £20 million to Glasgow's GVA in each year.
  • The XX Commonwealth Games attracted approximately 690,000 unique visitors who came to attend the Games or the related festivals. Evidence from official national tourism statistics suggests the tourism displacement experienced by some other host nations of major multi-sport events did not occur in Scotland in relation to the XX Commonwealth Games.
  • At the Scotland level, the spending by visitors, volunteers and media associated with Glasgow 2014 and Festival 2014 supported, in net terms, the equivalent of 2,138 jobs and contributed £73 million to Scotland's GVA in 2014. Of this, at the Glasgow level, the spending by visitors, volunteers and media associated with Glasgow 2014 and Festival 2014 supported, in net terms, the equivalent of 1,227 jobs and contributed £37 million to Glasgow's GVA in 2014.
  • In total, over the period 2007-2014, the preparation for and delivery of the XX Commonwealth Games is estimated to have contributed, in gross terms, £740 million to Scotland's GVA (£390 million of which was to Glasgow's GVA) and supported an estimated average of 2,100 jobs per year nationally (1,200 of which were in Glasgow), with a clear peak in 2014.
  • An indicative assessment of value for money of delivering the Games was calculated by comparing the impact of delivering the Games with a counterfactual where it is assumed that monies financing the delivery of the Games would have been spent in Scotland. The results of this analysis suggest at the Scotland level, the immediate economic impact of the delivery of the Games is broadly similar to the impact of Games partners' contributions if they were instead spent as standard government expenditure. The net additional economic impact derived from Games visitors is offset by the higher economic activity impact of standard government expenditure (compared to the public spending to support the Games).
  • However, it is important to note that this assessment only took account of the immediate economic benefits around planning and delivery and did not seek to monetise social benefits or the longer term potential follow-on impacts arising from reputational improvements, regeneration activity or the income generated from future sport and cultural events hosted in new and upgraded venues. For example, the bid included a commitment to the M74 which was planned and delivered, opening up access to the east end of Glasgow and other areas.

The venues

  • There has been very considerable success in attracting other international and national sporting events to Glasgow and Scotland in the last few years. Many of these could not have been hosted without the investment for XX Commonwealth Games. By the end of 2017, a total of 57 events of UK or International standing held at XX Commonwealth Games venues had been secured and a further 8 events in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth sports but held out with Commonwealth venues had been secured. The latter includes international mountain biking and Rugby 7s. There are a further 6 events currently at various points in the bidding process. A full list of these is provided in Annex 1. Overall these events had an estimated economic impact of over £18.6 million by 2014 and an estimated £27.5 million by 2019. [18]
  • One of Glasgow's legacy objectives was to use the new and enhanced Games venues and infrastructure to attract more cultural events, conferences and conventions, with music events generating £75 million for the city's economy each year [19] and business tourism generating more than £1 billion for the economy over the last eight years, The 12,500-seater SSE Hydro Arena at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, which opened in 2013 in time to host the gymnastics events for the Games, has played a key role in achieving this aim (see Chapter 7). While the arena had been planned for a number of years prior to Glasgow being awarded the Games, the securing of the Games ensured that the arena's development progressed at a time when capital investment may have been delayed due to the financial crisis.

Business and employment

  • Businesses across Scotland benefitted from Games contracts and it is likely the support put in place by partners facilitated this. £669 million worth of Games Tier 1 [20] contracts were awarded, with £510 million of this (76%) awarded to businesses based in Scotland. [21] Following the 2014 Games a number of Scottish businesses were successful in securing contracts for subsequent major sports events both in Scotland and elsewhere. [22] These included companies who had a track record of supporting major events, and other companies for who 2014 was their first experience of the major sport events sector. Events where contracts were secured by Scottish businesses included the 2015 European Games in Baku, the Rugby World Cup in England and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
  • By 2015, it was estimated that over 11,000 young people across Scotland had benefitted to date from the range of national and city employability legacy initiatives. The considerable efforts made by Glasgow City Council to use the Games to contribute to employment legacy outcomes are estimated to have benefited over 8,200 people (7,000 of which were aged 16-24) in Glasgow between 2009 and November 2017. The £50 million Glasgow Guarantee Programme (formerly known as the Commonwealth Employment Initiatives) offers support for training, work, modern apprenticeships and job opportunities for Glasgow people via a number of initiatives.
  • The GoWell East study showed that employment increased among respondents in the study area, at a rate of improvement comparable to changes seen at city and national levels. [23] There was an increase in full-time employment among men and in part-time employment among women. Over half (54%) of working age adults in the study sample were in employment in 2016. This is an increase from the first wave of the survey in 2012 where 48% were in full time or part time employment. The employment rate in the study area nonetheless remains below that for Glasgow (66%) and Scotland (73%). Employment among the local community was directly impacted by the regeneration projects, with effects reported in both 2012 and 2016, although the number of households positively affected in this way dropped from 4% to 3% over time, which may be the result of a higher level of Games-related development activity in the pre-Games period.


  • Over 50,000 people from Scotland and beyond applied to become one of 12,300 Games Time Volunteers known as Clyde-siders. This included 160 dedicated Accessibility Volunteers to ensure a positive Games experience for those who required assistance or support. A further 300 pre Games Frontrunner Volunteers, 1,100 Host City Volunteers ( HCVs) and 3,000 volunteers for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were recruited.
  • A synthesis of the research undertaken on Clyde-siders and those who applied to be Clyde-siders has been published. [24] This sets out how respondents described the opportunity to participate in a unique and prestigious event as a key motivating factor and supports the wider evidence that volunteering can lead to a range of individual outcomes including increased confidence, knowledge and skills. Some respondents suggested that the reputation of the city had been enhanced (at least in part) by the role that volunteers played in showcasing Glasgow. Feedback on volunteer recruitment, training and highlighted the importance of good communication between organisers and volunteers throughout the experience.
  • Clyde-sider applicants were, however, not representative of the Glasgow and/or Scotland population, with, for example, higher than average levels of qualifications and volunteering experience compared to the general population. This chimes with the previous experience of volunteering programmes at other major events. To optimise a volunteering legacy, event organisers need take clear steps to target those with the most to gain from volunteer experience and tailor the approach to different demographic groups. With the group of Clyde-siders recruited, the scope for an increase in volunteering uptake was very limited because most were already volunteering (83%). There is an inherent tension between increasing diversity, inclusivity and volunteering rates in the host-city population with running a mega-event using experienced event volunteers.
  • This synthesis also sets out how being from Glasgow had an important influence on a number of outcomes for volunteers. Positive outcomes included feeling that the number of volunteering roles had increased in the local area and remaining in contact with people. However, other outcomes were less positive including lower levels of subsequent use of skills, lower proportions volunteering at least once a week and applying for other 'big event' volunteering positions. These findings bear significance given that volunteering rates in Glasgow remain below the national average. [25]
  • Eight percent of GoWell East participants had provided unpaid help in the last 12 months, a significant decrease from the 2012 survey where nearly a quarter of respondents were involved in voluntary work of some kind. Further analysis showed that the decline in volunteering was substantial for all education groups, but was relatively larger (a drop of around three-quarters) among those with either none or with secondary/post-secondary qualifications, than among those with a degree (a drop of around 60 percent).
  • The key objectives of the HCV programme were to provide local people with the opportunity to play an active part in supporting the XX Commonwealth Games, enhance civic pride and address the known under-representation in volunteering of some groups within the city. Applicants were required to have a connection to Glasgow as the host city and particular efforts were made to engage disabled people, older people and those living in more deprived areas. A study of HCVs, and one of the few studies to explore the longer term impact of event-based volunteering, was undertaken with the HCVs three years on from the Games. [26] The research explored the key themes of involvement in volunteering, social connectedness and inclusion; as well as more intangible elements of legacy. Overall the results present a picture of continuity. Those who were already involved in volunteering prior to the Games have continued to be involved and levels of connectedness have remained broadly constant for the majority of HCVs who responded to the survey. The notable exceptions to this were a slight increase in volunteering levels amongst older participants and greater increases in social connectedness amongst disabled participants, compared to the overall survey population. In addition, participants identified several more positive impacts of involvement in the HCV programme including: increased confidence; increased involvement in wider community activities; enhanced ability to make friends; improved psychological well-being; and assistance in gaining employment. The research highlights that it may be necessary to reconceptualise the definition and measurement of volunteering 'legacy' associated with events.

Key lessons and recent developments

Overall, the findings from XX Commonwealth Games broadly chime with the international experience on economic benefit, though in some respects Glasgow 2014 has arguably exceeded expectations. Games partners for XX Commonwealth Games took clear action to mitigate the risks and to consider distribution of employment opportunities that, in the main, appears to have paid off.

The infrastructure refurbished and built for the XX Commonwealth Games has not experienced the 'white elephant' problem of disused, or poorly used, venues. Rather, the infrastructure has been a huge asset for Glasgow and Scotland. The aspiration to attract international and national events of high calibre has clearly been met.

Developing venues with their end-use and ownership already agreed, rather than being developed for the Games with post-Games arrangements being decided at a later stage was critical to this success. There were deliberate decisions that new and refurbished Games venues would be multi-sport venues that could both host major events and provide opportunities for the local community.

It is clear that considerable effort was required by a number of Games partners to ensure employment and contract opportunities were opened up for local people and businesses during the XX Commonwealth Games and those efforts must continue if longer term benefits are to be secured. The readiness of individuals and businesses to operate in key sectors is critical.

Construction sector businesses who were encouraged to engage with Games partners to access Games contracts and who signed up to the Games Portal were subsequently passed on to the Public Contract Scotland system and are now receiving access to all public sector construction opportunities, including, amongst other things, the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal Infrastructure Fund programme.

Event sector businesses in Glasgow and Scotland who engaged with Games partners programmes to access Glasgow 2014 contracts now continue to be supported by Games partners to win future local, national and international event contracts, not least those for the 2018 European Championships. Scottish Enterprise is also supporting businesses to access national and international event sector opportunities via the activities set out in Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Scottish Enterprise ( SE) priorities

  • Working with the Department of International Trade to promote contract opportunities, events and research to Scottish businesses
  • Development of a business programme linked to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, in partnership with the Department for International Trade and Queensland Government
  • Promotion of increased Trade Opportunities with Germany, linked to the Glasgow / Berlin 2018 European Championships and opening of the new Scottish Business and Innovation Hub in Berlin in 2017
  • Promoting contract opportunities in England, linked to the new Scotland Business and Innovation Hub in London, including the 2022 Commonwealth Games
  • Linked to the proposed new Scotland Business and Innovation Hub in Paris, maximising opportunities from the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics
  • Increased resources in Dubai to identify and promote contract business opportunities linked to the country hosting the 2020 World Expo, as well as opportunities from Qatar hosting the 2022 Football World Cup

Tourism sector businesses in Glasgow will potentially benefit from the increased visitor expenditure resulting from the increase the number of international and national events held in the Games venues. The experience of hosting the XX Commonwealth Games has also provided a springboard for the development and renewal of Glasgow's Tourism and Visitor Plan. The new plan, which was launched in 2016, sets out a clear direction for the continued growth of the city's tourism economy and is focused on increasing overnight leisure tourism visits from two million to three million per year by 2023.

The research conducted in the course of the Games and the experience of those running Games-related volunteer programmes highlighted a number of lessons regarding volunteer recruitment, selection support, training and retention post Games. This learning has been important for the development of the Glasgow 2018 Volunteer Programme, with specific diversity targets in place.

Further, Glasgow Life have led the development of the Glasgow Sport Volunteer Bureau ( GSVB), a bespoke brokerage service linking those wishing to volunteer at other Glasgow sport events and/or in community sports clubs to event organisers and clubs requiring volunteers. The system enables both volunteers and organisations to manage and keep track of their applications, opportunities and exchange feedback. GSVB advertises a wide range of short term and long term sports volunteering opportunities, including one-off events, coaching and administration within sports clubs and charities, allowing volunteers to be involved at the level that suits them best. To date, over 3,000 volunteers have registered and donated in excess of 18,000 hours in a wide range of opportunities provided by the 130 organisations registered.


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