The London Development Agency is to create an emergency taskforce to ensure that the construction industry has enough skilled labour to build the Olympic Games.

The LDA is on the verge of agreeing proposals for a short-term taskforce to be set up for three to four months. This body, which will be chaired by a member of the LDA board, will oversee the work of construction skills bodies.

Neale Coleman, policy director for planning and regeneration at the Greater London Authority, told members of the TUC last week that the LDA would try to put the proposals in place as soon as possible.

He said: “The bodies involved are virtually at the stage of agreeing to proposals for a taskforce. The aim is to bring together initiatives on the subject and ensure that CITB–ConstructionSkills and the Learning and Skills Council are aligned in their programmes, and have the funding to carry them through.”

The situation is complicated by mayor Ken Livingstone’s attempt to gain control of the London Learning Skills Council. This is now out for consultation as part of a review of the mayor’s powers. Coleman said he would continue with his plans to assemble the taskforce regardless of the outcome of this process.

The aim is to ensure that the CITB and the Learning and Skills Council are aligned in their programmes

Neale Coleman, Greater London Authority

Meanwhile, skills minister Phil Hope has revealed that students as young as 14 will be able to follow apprenticeship courses in construction from next year. Speaking at the launch of the 2006 Apprenticeship Awards, Hope said that construction would be one of 16 industries to be brought within the Young Apprenticeship programme from September next year.

Consultant Atkins is to set targets for employing local labour in the five Olympic boroughs.