As the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre celebrated its 25th year of operation in an intimate party of 400 in July many staff were contemplating their future as realisation hit that the venue will close at the end of 2013.
BY BRAD FOSTER
Come December approximately 250 full-time and 650 casual staff at the SCEC will no longer be employed at the centre, with the centre closing for redevelopment for three years.
A spokesperson from the centre said no staff will be retained by the current management company, Darling Harbour Convention and Exhibition (DHCE) Pty Ltd, because it has no future role in management of the new convention centre.
“As operators of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, DHCE has implemented a wide range of human resource support programs across all employees this year in order to ensure they have the best possible opportunity to gain future employment following the closure of the centre,” the spokesperson said.
“These include training programs to enable employees to gain additional skills as well as career transitioning programs. So far 84 per cent of DHCE’s employees have taken advantage of the training courses, from operational staff to managers and executives.
“DHCE has also provided courses on job search and interview skills for staff. The company is committed to assisting staff to find alternate employment.”
AEG Ogden, the recently appointed managers of the temporary exhibition facility at Glebe Island that will be built to accommodate events during the three-year construction phase of the new centre, will be looking at recruiting staff to operate this venue when it opens in February next year, with displaced SCEC staff an obvious first choice.
In mid-July AEG Ogden announced that experienced venue executive, Malu Barrios, had been appointed general manger of the Glebe Island facility. For the past five years Ms Barrios has been in charge of the AEG Ogden-managed Darwin Convention Centre.
AEG Ogden director of convention centres, Geoff Donaghy, told micenet AUSTRALIA, that discussions were presently being undertaken on the anticipated level of staff required at Glebe Island.
“When the original tender arrangements collapsed [at Glebe Island] the government stepped in and asked us if we would take over the operation of it,” Mr Donaghy said.
“We are having regular discussions with the SCEC in the lead up to when the existing venue ceases operation in December. We would envisage that a pretty large majority of the staff required at Glebe would potentially come from the existing convention centre staff.”
The Glebe Island exhibition facility is due to be operational by February 2014.
Mr Donaghy said AEG Ogden had not fleshed out the exact details of staff requirements needed at Glebe Island or during the construction phase of the new Darling Harbour venue.
“Progressively as we roll out the recruitment program for the new International Convention Centre Sydney we hope that that provides potential opportunities for some of the team there [at the SCEC] at least. Some of the challenges of course are that a lot of those positions at the ICC are not required for 12 months or even 24 months.
“In terms of the marketing and positioning of the new centre we’re working closely with BE Sydney. We participated with them at AIME in Melbourne and IMEX in Frankfurt, and we will be doing so again at EIBTM in Barcelona. We are working with them in a number of ways including focusing on industry and media briefings at these key tradeshows. “BE Sydney is continuing to identify and bid for major events beyond 2017 and we’re working with them on that to provide the necessary information and data on the new project.
“Our formal pre-opening period is due to start at the end of this year. The priority aim this year apart from the work we’re doing on the final design of the new centre is to get general awareness of the centre, what it offers and the timetable of the new centre known internationally. We’re also working closely with BE Sydney to support them in the bids that they’re lodging.
“We wouldn’t start to gear up our staff – the ICC Sydney team – until the beginning of 2014.”
So let’s party!
To mark the 25th anniversary, the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre hosted a night of celebration for more than 400 guests.
Reflecting the venue’s reputation for delivering spectacular events, the centre’s team staged an evening filled with surprises. Guests enjoyed entertainment from popular singers Timomatic and Samantha Jade as they dined on a superb meal featuring confit of ocean trout, marron tail and slow-roasted wagyu beef tenderloin.
Earlier in the evening, after cocktails amid a photographic display of highlights from the past 25 years, ABC radio presenter Adam Spencer led a special panel discussion with industry leaders who reflected on the centre’s contribution to the events industry.
Centre chief executive Ton van Amerongen said the anniversary was cause for celebration across the business events industry.
“The past 25 years have seen remarkable development in the national business events landscape,” Mr van Amerongen said.
“The opening of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in 1988 represented much more than just a Bicentenary project and a rejuvenation of Darling Harbour. It was also the catalyst for the growth and development of the entire business events industry, right across the country.
“With a million people passing through our doors each year, the centre has formed part of the economic and social fabric of our nation.”