East End workers lose out on 2012 Olympics bonanza
PUBLISHED: 14:22 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 05 October 2010
ONLY three per cent of jobs created at the 2012 Olympics site in East London have gone to people living in Tower Hamlets next door, one of the five host’ boroughs. Just 90 workers out of the 3,315 employed on the site are East Enders, the East London Advertiser has learned
By Else Kvist
ONLY three per cent of jobs created at the 2012 Olympics site in East London have gone to people living in Tower Hamlets next door, one of the five host’ boroughs.
Just 90 workers out of the 3,315 employed on the site are East Enders, the East London Advertiser has learned.
The findings have shocked two East London MPs who condemned the Olympic authority’s current employment strategy.
George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, called it a scandal for “one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.”
He added: “Few people here ever benefited from jobs in Canary Wharf or the City. But these figures for the Olympics Park also show little benefit.”
Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Canning Town, described the figure as “derisory” and said the opportunities provided by the Olympics should not be missed.
The construction workers’ union UCATT believes there are only 30 actual apprentices on the huge flagship’ site which they say does not provide enough opportunity for youngsters. It calls for one apprentice for every 10 workers.
The Olympics authority insists training programmes were being provided and were aiming to create 350 apprenticeships between now and 2012.
Cash was available for job training, but Tower Hamlets council has found many youngsters taking up the training were then getting jobs elsewhere.
The council estimated 700 from Tower Hamlets have gone on courses from one-day to 13 weeks, but only 200 went on to get jobs. Out of the 200 trainees, only 30 are working at the Olympics site.
REACTION TO THE ADVERTISER FINDINGS FROM MP GEORGE GALLOWAY:
“I am horrified by the figures for the number of Tower Hamlets residents employed on the Olympics site. Three percent, just 90 people out of well over 3,000, is a scandal.
“When we bid for the Olympics, great play was made of London’s multicultural nature. Tower Hamlets has families who have lived her for many generations, living alongside people whose families have settled here from the Old and New Commonwealths and the old and new European Union.
“But this is also one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Few people who live here ever benefited from jobs in Canary Wharf and the City—but even these jobs are drying up with the catastrophic banking collapse.
“The enormous sums of taxpayers’ money and other funds being spent on the Olympics has been justified in terms of the benefit to the economy and in part to local communities. But these figures show little benefit is coming to Tower Hamlets.
“It is clear that not nearly enough is being done to get rid of the formal and informal barriers to getting a job on the 2012 site. I warned of these problems when there were cuts in the budget for teaching English to speakers of other languages, and to the budget for further education, making it more difficult to train in the practical skills needed.
The Olympics Delivery Authority says there are 300 apprenticeships, but some of these are not the three-year apprenticeships demanded by the construction union UCATT. We face enormous cuts to London Metropolitan University, which further threatens to hit the skills base of Tower Hamlets.
“I have already met with Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell to express concerns about a number of issues and will be seeking a further meeting to discuss why recruitment from Tower Hamlets is so low and about the urgent need for a strategy to turn this around.
“People from the diverse communities that make up Tower Hamlets are not asking for favours—just a bit of fairness.”
REACTION FROM MP JIM FITZPATRICK:
“The three per cent jobs figure for Tower Hamlets is derisory. People urgently need the skills required for future projects such as the Thames Gateways.
“It is vital that the opportunities provided by the Olympics are not missed.
“I will urgently investigate why the figure is so low and find out how we can try to improve it.”
REACTION FROM THE OLYMPICS DELIVERY AUTHORITY:
“One-in-10 of the current Olympic Park workforce is in some form of training and the number of apprentices is around the London average.
“A quarter of the workforce live around the Olympic Park and half are Londoners. Last month we lifted our target to the national average which will mean creating 350 apprenticeships over the lifetime of the project.
“We are working with contractors to increase apprenticeship opportunities and have taken the unprecedented step of including a commitment to reach the national apprenticeships average in future Olympic Park contracts worth £500 million.”
The authority adds that there will be thousands of training and job opportunities from now till 2012 and it was up to residents to use job agencies like Skillsmatch in Tower Hamlets.
REACTION FROM TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL:
“The London Development Agency allocated £9.6 million up to December to job brokerage, training, employment and a business support programme to assist residents and businesses in the five 2012 host boroughs.
“In order to ensure residents have the right technical skills and qualifications needed to gain access to as many of the construction jobs being created as possible, £3.48m of this Local Employment Training Framework is directly allocated to deliver construction training to residents in the five host boroughs.
“As a result, more than 700 Tower Hamlets Residents have already benefited from various one-day and three- to five-day courses as well as a City & Guilds Women’s course, accredited security courses and a 13-week horticultural course, with almost 200 already securing jobs, including the Olympic site. This figure (of 200 jobs) does not include others who have completed the courses and subsequently gone on to find employment through Jobcentres and other agencies.
“Our aim is to help equip residents with the necessary skills to secure local jobs, which is what is being achieved. The Local Employment Training Framework which came about as a direct result of the Olympics has supported residents into jobs on the Olympic Park and at other construction sites in the area.
“Around 85 per cent of those moving directly in construction and security from the programme are on sites away from the Olympic Park.
“This demonstrates that the Olympics also gives residents the opportunity to gain skills and choose to take advantage of other opportunities in East London, showing how the regeneration benefits of the 2012 Games extend beyond the Olympic Park itself into our communities.”