Construction industry faces labour shortage

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BANGKOK, Oct 23 – Thailand’s construction industry is now facing labour shortage resulting in stagnancy of new projects, according to the Construction Institute of Thailand.

The institute director Chakporn Oonjitt said the construction industry cannot expand or begin new projects due to a severe labour shortage, particularly in housing development projects.

He said this resulted in the delay of housing transfers to home buyers, and predicted that the existing labour force is still insufficient for 2012-2013 state and private construction projects.

Mr Chakporn said the construction sector grew by 15 percent this year, with at least Bt900 billion investment cost, but project expansion could not reach the target it should have.

The National Statistical Office reported a shortage of at least 300,000 labourers, according to the the institute director, adding that the country’s construction industry needs up to 2.9 million workers this year due to increasing projects, above averages of other years of 2.3-2.6 million.

Mr Chakporn also admitted that the average age of Thai labourers is also rising, while new generations preferring to work in service sector rather than in the construction industry which is branded as difficult and hard work.

He said the institute has worked with the labour ministry and educational institute to lay out construction curriculum so they can produce more workforce in the industry, while some fields of skilled labour work with higher pay will be reserved for Thais.

Mr Chakporn added that Thailand will be affected on certain levels after the Myanmar government launched a campaign to bring Myanmar migrant workers back home, as several mega infrastructure projects will be invested in to support the growth of the country and prepare to host the SEA Games in 2013. It is estimated that Myanmar needed a 100,000-strong workforce to run the projects.

According to data of the Thai labour ministry, he said, a workforce of at least 200,000 foreign labourers is needed for Thailand’s construction industry. Most of them come from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.