All the bids say it over and over again: major international sports events create jobs. In the broadest sense. With prospects that are often unequalled in other sectors of activity.
Is this just an announcement or is it a reality? A few weeks before the World Cup in Qatar, and less than two years before the Paris 2024 Games, FrancsJeux interviewed an expert, Alain Ghibaudo, founder and managing director of Sportcarrière, a member of GIE France Sport Expertise, the leading recruitment and consultancy firm dedicated to sport in Europe.
FrancsJeux: How is the job market in the event industry and sports institutions currently doing?
Alain Ghibaudo: It is doing very well, it has probably never been better. And I can speak from experience, having founded the first recruitment agency in Europe dedicated to sport more than twenty years ago. We started working on the World Athletics Championships in Paris-Saint-Denis in 2003, then the Athens Games the following year. To date, we have assisted 15 major international sporting events with team recruitment. In France, for example, where we are working with the Paris 2024 OCOG and the Rugby World Cup in 2025, there is a very proactive policy for hosting major events. It creates a rather unique dynamic in the employment market. The Paris 2024 OCOG alone will create 3,000 to 3,500 direct jobs, and at least as many, if not more, among its service providers. In over twenty years of working in this sector, I have never experienced a comparable situation. We double our turnover every year.
Is the market as dynamic internationally?
The market will move. After the Paris 2024 Games, the momentum will shift to North America, with the Football World Cup in 2026, then the Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2028, and perhaps the Winter Games in 2030 or 2034. Australia will also need a lot of talent, with the Rugby World Cups for women and men, and then the Brisbane Games in 2032. The sports events job market is still young. It has only really become professional in the last twenty years. France is in the process of developing its expertise. We should soon see a lot of little Frenchmen on the market, all over the world, just as we now see Greeks from the Athens 2004 Games.
What are the most sought-after professions?
All the jobs directly linked to the event, to its production and organisation. Event producer, project manager… Ticketing is also a very promising sector, as is hospitality. In these sectors of activity, we will most certainly see tensions in the market. They will also affect the world of music, in its event-based part – concerts, festivals – where the jobs are often the same. With salaries that are often more interesting, sport will absorb a large number of profiles that were previously dedicated to music.
Do all profiles benefit from the current market dynamics?
More or less. The sports event industry needs juniors who can show some experience. There is a whole generation of newcomers who are going to be trained quickly in the sports business. I often say that years count twice in the organising committee of a major sports event. And, of course, the more hierarchical profiles, the very experienced project managers.
What are the salaries like?
They are decent, but not exceptional. The world of events and sports authorities remains a conglomerate of small and medium-sized companies. Remuneration is lower than in the luxury industry, for example, or in the large digital groups. But the talent now has the power, because there is not enough of it. This situation will push up salaries.
Is the job market as dynamic as it is in the sports sector?
There are things going on at the moment. At FIFA, for example. It recently relocated an office to Paris. This desire to set up a sort of foreign affairs ministry in France is not innocent. It will create jobs. Today, the office has about forty people, but we can imagine that the number of staff will increase.
Major sports events are changing, particularly under the impetus of the IOC, and are becoming more sustainable and responsible. Does this evolution affect the job market?
Of course it does. The IOC has driven the movement by emphasising the sustainability and legacy of the Olympic Games. London 2012 was the first edition where legacy was integrated into the preparation of the Games. Paris 2024 is now following suit. This evolution is creating new jobs, in the fields of CSR, impact and legacy.
The Paris 2024 OCOG has announced a policy of savings, to cope with inflation and stay within its budget. Will it have an impact on employment?
It will have an impact on salaries. The OCOG put in place a precise and regulated salary scale very early on. It is monitored by a state financial controller. But the tensions in the labour market can lead to budget overruns. Few people have yet realised this, but the power is now in the hands of the talent and the business experts. It is no longer in the hands of companies, institutions and organisations. I’ve seen top production managers come through who wouldn’t take a pay cut to work in sport, even for a one-off event.