Construction union Ucatt has slammed the decision to train apprentices on the London 2012 Olympics site only to GCSE standard rather than the equivalent of A levels.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) last month launched its employment and skills strategy with the aim of training more than 1,000 young people from local boroughs. Ucatt claimed that 90% of this training will only be to NVQ Level 2, rather than at NVQ Level 3 (the equivalent of two A levels).
The union said this policy was contrary to the recommendations in the Leitch Review and a recent government report on apprentices. Both studies called for an increase in the number of apprenticeships being offered at NVQ Level 3.
Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said that if young workers were not fully trained, they would struggle to find employment and be forced to take lower-paid jobs throughout their career.
“The realisation that the authority tried to sneak out the fact that the vast majority will only be offered to NVQ Level 2 is disappointing,” he said.
“This country is crying out for young skilled construction workers. The Olympics were a golden opportunity to create a skills legacy. That opportunity is in danger of being missed.”
ODA chairman John Armitt said: “The areas around the Olympic site in east London suffer from high levels of unemployment and the 2012 Games can act as a catalyst to help change this. That is why our strategy is focused on getting people onto the first level of training and into work.
“In addition, our forecasts show that the skill requirements for the project will mainly be in civil engineering and construction skills rather than the traditional building craft skills, though we will be encouraging employers to offer training at all NVQ levels.”
Potential apprentices in the construction industry are struggling to find positions. Ucatt claimed that last year only 7,500 construction apprentices found an employer, despite more than 50,000 young people applying for a place.
Last week, council leaders in Glasgow pledged to offer 2,000 apprenticeships on the Commonwealth Games – double that on the 2012 Games.