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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia sees shortage of builders

Cambodia sees shortage of builders

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Cambodian labourers working in a construction site in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

The increasing level of investments in new buildings in Cambodia is causing a shortage of trained building workers, according to the government and to major investors.

Vice director of the Building Department and deputy chairman of the Cambodian Architects Committee Lao Tepseiha said the extent of building investment in Cambodia is increasing this year, but is coming up against the shortage of workers.

“The owners of both small and big building projects, which need 200 to 300 workers, are complaining about the shortage of building workers”, he said, adding that there is demand for more than 18,000 or 20,000 workers per day. The lack of expert workers is especially notable.

He continue “the concept of using emigrants is not good because it could involve many risks: we would rather work with locals, so that if we have numerous building jobs they will gain skills, experience and money.”

The average income for unskilled workers is between 15,000 riel to 20,000 riel per day.

Cambodia Building Worker Confederation (CBWC) president Sovandeth said that the demand for building workers really showed a shortage, while the number of building projects was growing. “Building worker growth increased 70 per cent in 2012 and the lack of workers is some 50 per cent right now,” he added.

He went on: “there is a shortage of workers due to the low pay, causing some Khmer to go back home in the rainy season.”

Khmer immigrant workers went to Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Japan a few years ago, but now demand has decreased after the government increased the rules and regulations governing their movement, he said.

He confirmed “if there is low payment for a building job now, there will be a lack of workers, but if there are suitable benefits and a safe job, there will be no shortage. You need to pay less skilled workers on average $5, while skilled workers should get $10 per day”.

Assistant to the chairman of House Building Investment Co, Nget Piseth said “Our company lacks less skilled workers because of procedures to provide a place for workers to stay who work in our company”.

Ky Real Estate Company CEO Soun Seap said “it is unlikely there is a lack of workers within each housing project. When they start working they usually have enough workers but by I know there can be lack of workers for those projects with small budgets,” he said.

“Cambodia does not lack many workers now, but I think we will lack skilled labour when we integrate in ASEAN in 2015,” he added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seun Son at son.seun@phnompenhpost.com

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