Construction companies in the region are finding it difficult to get adequate number of skilled labourers at the prevailing salary levels, it is learnt.
Echoing similar views, at least two major online sites and some reputable publications - each of which specialises in the construction industry - have reported in recent weeks that several companies that have undertaken large-scale infrastructure work have gone on record to say that manpower suppliers whom they have relied on for most of their works in recent years are not being able to provide sufficient number of skilled workers for their ongoing projects these days.
Representatives of some of the major players in the industry have said the supply of labourers from Asian countries referred to as “traditional supplying markets” has been at the bare minimum levels for some time.
A senior official of an A-class construction firm in Qatar said even companies like theirs have found it difficult to attract workers for some of their ongoing projects as potential labourers feel that salaries offered in the region were too low considering the unprecedented rise in the cost of living in some Asian countries, notably India and Sri Lanka.
The official also pointed out that even in Nepal, from where a large number of workers have arrived in the past decade, not many workers are keen to travel to the region these days, a point which was somehow disputed by an official of the Himalayan country’s local embassy.
However, according to a community activist, it is clear that there has been a fall in the number of construction workers coming from Nepal these days. He said some Nepalese expatriates are nowadays coming to take up employment in other areas, notably retail and hospitality, though their number is limited.
While acknowledging the workforce shortage faced by the region’s construction sector, a local entrepreneur said they have started looking for workers from some countries in the West African region. However the response has been not very encouraging, he added.
Replying to a query, a senior engineering professional at a major construction firm with projects across the region, including in Ras Laffan, said workers from the Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, too, have started asking for higher salaries than those paid at the prevailing levels. He said his company has found that there is adequate number of skilled workers in the Asean region but their salary demands have grown over the years.
One of the main obstacles for the timely completion of some of the major local projects is either the hesitation of workers to return from their vacation or their movement to other regions to take up work, said a manpower consultant. “Some of the major firms executing large projects have expressed willingness to pay more to potential workers to ensure that the projects are completed on time,” he said, citing the example of a major East Asian utilities company currently executing a significant share of a mixed community development in the Lusail area.
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