‘Raise pay to solve lack of construction workers’


Higher compensation for skilled construction workers should be considered as a solution to address the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry, real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) said over the weekend.

In a text message to The Manila Times, JLL Philippines Head of Research, Consultancy and Valuation Claro Cordero Jr. said that the shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector is a global concern.

“The shortage of skilled labor has affected the Philippines, as the more advanced economies continue to lure them, due to higher compensation packages and more favorable work conditions,” Cordero said.

Cordero noted that in order to address this problem, there is a need to improve the working conditions of these skilled workers, which can be done by increasing the compensation of the skilled labor force.

In a separate interview last week, Colliers International director for Advisory Services Julius Guevara told reporters that the lack of skilled labor in the construction sector continues to cause delays in project completions.

“A lot of office projects targeted for completion this year have been pushed back to next,” due to construction delays, Guevara said.

Based on an earlier report by Colliers International, six residential projects were slated for delivery in the second quarter of 2016, but due to the lack of skilled labor, only one was completed.

“The delay in completions is attributed to the acute lack of skilled labor in construction. Rents in the major CBDs continue to correct amid heightened levels of unit completions in the outskirts,” the report said.

Guevara noted that one way to address the shortage of skilled construction workers is by promoting more training programs.

“The government should promote training programs with TESDA so that a lot more laborers would be training in higher skills,” Guevara said.

However, the real estate analyst noted that even with the presence of training programs, it would still be difficult to address the lack of construction workers issues since the needed construction skills are more experience-based.

“These skills are developed overtime. So it’s really exposure to projects,” Guevara said.

On the part of real estate developers, Guevara noted that they can develop their own talent.

“I think some of them are trying to develop talent or skilled talent. They can do that,” Guevara said.

This is an area that mass housing developer 8990 Holdings is looking to pursue, according to its Chief Executive Officer Januario Jesus Atencio, as there is competition for skilled workers in the provinces driven by the building boom in areas outside Metro Manila.

“You see this in Davao, in Iloilo, in Cebu. Particularly in places where we are. The competition for skilled labor is there. In fact, by next year we may have to launch our own 8990 Innovations Center,” Atencio said in an earlier interview.

The proposed 8990 Innovations Center will be center for training and education to develop new ideas and improve the quality of developments.

However, Guevara noted that despite the skilled labor force that training centers may produce, the issue at hand is how the developers will be able to ensure that their skilled workers stay until the project is completed.

First RGP Land Development Corporation Chairman Resty Perez noted developers need to be innovative in building their developments to be able complete projects faster.

“You need to have a new way to think things through,” Perez said.


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