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Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: A city and a region on track to deliver the most diverse and first net zero Games

Matthew Hammond Strategic International Markets Lead Partner, Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC United Kingdom 28 July, 2021

While our British Athletes make their mark in the medals league table in Tokyo, we celebrate the 1YTG (one year to go) countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. It is all beginning to feel very real.

Creating history is the ambition of the elite athletes. But for a city with the motto ‘Forward’, hosting the Commonwealth Games will bring with it opportunities that can accelerate the redefinition of the West Midlands on national and international stages.

Reimagining and redefining the success of the region has been the work of the last decade, but rarely does the West Midlands sing of its own achievements as a key engine of the UK economy. 

Matthew Hammond

Matthew Hammond
UK International Markets Leader, Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner

Track record of delivery

If you’ve not visited in the last decade, arriving into the Grand Central New Street, the heart of the UK’s rail network, provides a window across a revitalised city. One which is now the largest hub of modern professional services outside London, served by an array of cultural destinations, retail experiences and culinary delights from across the world - including Michelin-starred restaurants.

The City and region will be ready. Hosting the World and European Indoor Athletics, World Gymnastics, International Dance Festivals, the Rugby World Cup and political conferences have all been taken in the City’s stride. We’ve also returned the favour, sending our elite performing artists, the CBSO, on international trade and investment missions.

The region is connected by not just an international airport pushing ahead with a £500m+ investment programme and being at the centre of the UK road network, but a modern and clean Metro transit system. The HS2 investment is progressing at pace. The interchanges at Birmingham International Airport and the new station on the historical Curzon Street site are underway. These are all facilities that will serve the public, businesses and tourists, spread inclusive economic growth and aid significant inward and foreign direct investment (FDI) into the UK and the heart of the country.

The track record of investment performance of this region is worth briefly replaying. The West Midlands has sustained the top FDI performance of all UK regions outside London over the last five years. Landmark decisions to relocate or invest in new hubs have been made by the likes of HSBC, Deutsche Bank and, most recently, Goldman Sachs. The region is the host market and incubator to an entrepreneurial culture, in 2019 there were 19,000 startups and from those more are aiming for the heady heights achieved by Gymshark, who are just part of the way through their incredible growth trajectory.

The first Net Zero Games and the most diverse Games

The City’s industrial and manufacturing sectors derived the title ‘City of 1,000 trades’. Yet from the parts of the region whose industrial smog gave it the name ‘the black country’ during the industrial revolution has emerged a leaner, cleaner economy. Emerging sectors include modular construction - with a centre of excellence in Wolverhampton and clean future mobility. Elsewhere medtech is bringing together engineering and life sciences. And with the 5G testbed, esports and gaming, it is clear this is a region evolving as the pace of change determined by environmental targets accelerates.

Yes we still need a giga-factory, yes there is much to do to spread the economic gains into the cold spots of the region, but what a transition to host the first Net Zero games. Read more about the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 Sustainability pledge.

Local government, leading universities and the private sector are combining to re-shape the landscape. 

Central government decisions to move key roles and teams to many UK regions is contributing to the levelling-up and inclusive economic growth ambitions acutely needed across the country. 

In the public sector, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be based in Wolverhampton, the BBC has announced major investment in Birmingham and the Department for Transport is also investing in people and resources within the West Midlands.

This is what our young and diverse population across the region needs.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will also be the first games at which the ParaSport programme is fully integrated into the main programme. Another fabulous first to celebrate the inclusive and diverse talent across the sporting disciplines which will be competed.

PwC supporting the Games and its missions

A group of holistic goals, more authentic, grittier and more befitting the West Midlands and the times we are in. Ones which bring people back together, celebrate being part of our diverse Birmingham, West Midlands and UK society after a challenging two year period and the pandemic. The missions focus on what people can achieve together and less on grandiose infrastructure disproportionate to the longer term needs of the local population:

  1. To bring people together
  2. To improve health and wellbeing
  3. To help the region grow and succeed
  4. To be a catalyst for change
  5. To put us on a global stage

We are delighted to be supporting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as both the Official Supplier of Professional Advisory Services and a corporate sponsor. Our work is being led by Ali Breadon and a wider team including Gill Collins, supporting the Organising Committee across a broad range of governance and risk management activities.

We are honoured to play a part in helping deliver the biggest sporting event to happen in the UK for a decade, promising new opportunities and inclusive growth for our local communities and beyond.

We have been purpose led throughout our interactions with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games team, providing mission critical support and being true to our values in the areas of the activation of our commercial partnership with the Games. In the past such ‘sponsorship’ would have been largely based on hospitality tickets and corporate entertainment. Not now. 

In place of a focus on corporate entertainment, colleagues and clients are being encouraged to enter the priority ticket ballot for residents, be part of the Games as a volunteer and draw on professional skills and attributes to assist the success of the Games. 

At PwC our principle areas of commercial activation will include:

  1. Social mobility - assisting in the selection of volunteers from diverse backgrounds and their skills development programmes.
  2. Technology skills development - we will work with local and national third sector organisations to deliver scaled programmes to benefit the next generation of the workforce.

  3. Wellbeing of our colleagues - from direct participation in our own net zero by 2030 target, to recruitment and development, health and wellbeing the Games will provide an opportunity to inspire performance at individual, team and organisation wide levels.

The Business and Tourism Programme

No sooner have the 1YTG events of the day been wrapped up, than the starter pistol will fire on the FDI programme of events. This evening a VIP delegation will be in Birmingham to assess investment opportunities for the immediate and medium term.

The economic recovery from the pandemic needs a further catalyst to generate legacy benefits of inclusive economic growth and more levelling up. Commonwealth country delegates and investors will have their attention drawn to the UK, the West Midlands and Birmingham increasingly as the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) gathers speed.

As West Midlands Growth Company Chair, I am also proud to be supporting on the BATP. Designed to be part of our economic recovery, this programme will boost our global reputation as a leading destination for tourism, trade, and investment.

Working with the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport plus International Trade, and Visit Britain the West Midlands Growth Company will deliver in excess of 80 key events building up to and including the Queen’s Baton Relay and the Games themselves. A further programme of events will run into 2023.

The targets: To attract £650m of investment into the UK, boost exports and increase direct visitor spend. Combined these will generate 1,000 direct roles. Overall the Games will provide a short term boost to skills training and employment for up to 6,000 hospitality, transport, ambassadors and hosts. Large scale events include UK House, hosted in the centre of Birmingham, which will be a platform to showcase the UK’s world-leading capabilities to international investors.

Jobs and skills to create opportunities for all

In terms of immediate benefits to the region, I’m thrilled that the Commonwealth Games will create around 35,000 new jobs and skills opportunities in the region. In addition, it will recruit a fully trained volunteer workforce of 13,000 operating across the competition and non-competition venue portfolio. To maximise the long-term impact, the focus will be on supporting young people, particularly those from disadvantaged groups, the unemployed and disabled individuals. 

For me, creating job opportunities and helping people develop relevant skills for our changing economy should be a top priority both nationally and locally. A sentiment shared by 86% of the region in our social mobility research. Our technology degree apprenticeships with the University of Birmingham, which is now in its third year, is an example of how we’re already taking steps to improve social mobility by opening up opportunities to build an exciting career in technology. And I was delighted to welcome a record 275 new joiners across our Midlands offices last year, including 45% from minority ethnic backgrounds and 43% from households where neither parent has completed higher education studies.

We’re committed to playing a leading part in making sure the benefits from this recovery and growth are fairly shared across people from all social backgrounds. Having been hit hard by the pandemic, people want to see businesses actively stepping up and making social mobility a central part of rebuilding our economy. I’m proud of the work we’ve been doing locally in this space, such as our support of ‘Stand Out’ - an employability skills and mentoring programme for 18-24 year olds from working-class backgrounds - that equips them with the skills, networks and confidence to achieve their potential.

Volunteering and our role in contributing to our communities

Our support for the Commonwealth Games also gives our colleagues across the UK the opportunity to volunteer their time and skills to help. Our focus here will include collaborative local community projects aimed at upskilling disadvantaged young people to prepare them for Commonwealth Games roles and beyond, and social and environmental projects across the Midlands. 

At the heart of our purpose is how we can contribute to society and empower the communities in which we work in a diverse and inclusive manner, so I’m pleased the Games will enable our colleagues to deliver our purpose in such a personal and meaningful way.

Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC UK

PwC is proud to be supporting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as a professional services provider and corporate sponsor.

Chairman of the West Midlands Growth 

Midlands Growth Company is coordinating the Business and Tourism Programme on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Sports Festival in Centenary Square to mark One Year To Go

Contact us

Matthew Hammond

Matthew Hammond

UK International Markets Leader, Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7725 069181

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