Where Are All The Construction Workers?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
The housing bust and Great Recession might have scared a generation of would-be construction workers away from the building trades.

Submitted: March 31, 2015

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Submitted: March 31, 2015

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In the modern world, construction of houses, building and different infrastructures can be seen. However, it seems that the more the number of infrastructure arises, the lesser the people apply to construct it.

A review from one of the affiliates of Axis Capital Group which is based in Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia states that there is a great shortage of construction workers even when there is a large number of people who seem good candidates for this kind of job remain under-employed.

And this is not largely explainable by weak building activity or slack demand for labor. While wages for construction workers have not been growing much more briskly than economy-wide average, employed construction workers by the end of 2014 were working “the most hours per week on record.”

Supporting the idea that labor is tight here, a greater percentage of homebuilders reported worker shortages late last year than during the peak of the housing boom in 2004 and 2005. Builders were having the hardest time finding help for framing crews and rough carpentry – semi-skilled jobs that don’t require much formal training.

One interesting result of the dearth of newcomers seeking work in the sector is the dramatic graying of the construction workforce.

From interactions with laborers and other lowly paid construction workers at sites, ‘lack of higher paying work’ and ‘low income’ emerge as major issues with construction workers. The ’low income’ is attributable to abundant supply of laborers, who are willing to work at lower wage simply to get employed maximum number of days. The other problem of ‘lack of higher paying work’ has to do low skill levels and lack of literacy at laborers end. They lack skills for higher paying work and they have lots of complaints about the wages. An interaction with such laborers indicates they do have willingness to train themselves to aim for higher paying jobs and improve their lifestyle. Most demanded skill trainings are carpentry, painting and plumbing.

The workers have reasoned out that being a construction worker is a hard and arduous job without the hope for a promotion or salary increase. In Asia, review says that most construction workers are self-employed, doing contractual works every 6 months, then finding another one after the project is done. For most unemployed workers, getting together the resources to go back to school can be extremely difficult, especially if they’re trying to support a family. That’s because many construction workers—and others displaced by the recession—spent their savings paying the bills while they were out of work.


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