Thai Labour shortage holds back new projects

Cambodia Construction News Laos Myanmar

The construction industry’s lack of workers has resulted in many projects not being able to expand, says the Construction Institute of Thailand (CIT).

Chakporn Oonjitt, executive director of the CIT, which is under the Industry Ministry, said some works, especially housing projects, have been delayed, while developers have been reluctant to take on new ones.

The supply of labour is not sufficient to support the large number of public and private projects being launched this year and next, said Mr Chakporn.

He said the construction sector is expected to grow by 15% this year, with an estimated investment value exceeding 900 billion baht.

“[The industry] cannot speed up expansion due to a shortage of 300,000 workers,” said Mr Chakporn.

The National Statistical Office said the industrial sector requires an average of 2.3 to 2.6 million workers per year, but the demand this year is as high as 2.9 million, as several projects are expanding.

“We must also admit the Thai labour force is ageing, and new workers entering the pool usually choose jobs in the service sector rather than manufacturing,” said Mr Chakporn.

The construction sector is usually considered by outsiders as hard work despite the private sector’s efforts to replace human labour with technology.

The CIT is joining hands with the Labour Ministry to come up with positions that require specialised knowledge such as tower crane controllers, machinery controllers and construction smelters.

It is also cooperating with educational institutes to propose ways to develop a curriculum to prepare qualified new workers for the construction sector.

The curriculum will be proposed to the Education Ministry.

The Labour Ministry may allow entry to more low-skilled migrant workers from Myanmar and Cambodia.

Mr Chakporn said the construction industry will also be affected by Myanmar urging its workers living abroad to return home to support the building of new sports stadiums and infrastructure in preparation for the SEA Games next year.

As many as 100,000 Myanmar workers will be required for these projects.

More than 200,000 workers in the construction sector are foreigners, mostly from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

Some 400 CIT members need 100,000 foreign workers.

“The average age of workers in the industry is getting higher, as the younger generation is not interested in working in this sector,” said Mr Chakporn.


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