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Increasing shortage of labourers in construction sector

Increasing shortage of labourers in construction sector

An increase in the number of new real estate developments under construction in the Kingdom has led to a shortage of skilled and unskilled labour, according to industry experts.

Since early 2011, many developers have either started or restarted projects, however, high construction material prices have detrimentally affected worker’s wages, President of the Cambodian National Federation of Building and Wood Workers Sok Sovanndeth said.

“Wages are too low. The rise in product prices in the market has led to this imbalance, so many labourers are now looking for work in Thailand, leaving Cambodia with a shortage,” he said.

Skilled and unskilled labourers should receive about US$5 and $10 respectively, Sok Sovanndeth added.

“Developers should be trying to attract labourers by offering them job security, decent wages and satisfactory accommodation if it’s required.”

Some constructions companies which offer such advantages are, however, still struggling to attract the required number of staff.

The Phnom Penh-based New World project, located in the Chamkar Dong area, currently employs between 4,000 to 5,000 labourers, according to Nget Piseth, assistant director general of the development.

“Workers receive 20 per cent annual increase in their salary, together with accommodation. We don’t understand why they want to work in foreign countries,” he said, adding that the project requires an additional 2,000 labourers to work on the 20 hectare site.

Some project managers are concerned that the declining staff pool will delay completion of developments.

Pin Saravuth, manager of Borey Prince Town said that the lack of construction workers this year is remarkable, but shows that the sector is recovering.

“We currently have 300 workers, but this is not sufficient. A further 100 skilled and unskilled workers are required to make sure this project keeps to schedule.”

He added that there is now more dependency on the unskilled sector, “most of which have little education or experience.”

A total of about 39,355 skilled and unskilled construction workers are currently onsite each day, according to data obtained from the Ministry of Construction, Land Management and Urban Planning.