Skilled construction workers in the construction industry play a very crucial role to the survival and growth of the industry as they are mostly engaged in the practical realization of construction projects. This article addresses the problem of shortage of craftsmen in the construction industry in Nigeria.
As a country endowed with skilled manpower, the construction industry in Nigeria can best be described as ironic. Now, that’s putting it rather mildly, the situation is laughable.
Though on the one hand, it was acclaimed to be the highest employer of the nation’s workforce after agriculture, while on the other, it is faced with challenges in technical skilled construction workers/craftsmen shortage which affects organization’s productivity, quality of work, duration of projects and on firm’s profits.
The vital role played by the construction industry cannot be over emphasized as it is vivid that the activities of the industry impact almost every aspect of the economy.
Also, there is a persistent accusation that the construction industry in Nigerian is wasteful, inefficient and fall short of quality, quantity targets, and often fail in meeting delivery dates. This accusation may be due to poor standard of workmanship because of incompetent personnel.
This peculiar issue can be traced to the unwillingness of employers to set up sound training programs for their workforce. It is common knowledge that training for development of capacity is key to sustain economic development since human capital is said to be the greatest asset of any organization. Ironically, the emphasis of most organizations in Nigeria is very narrow, because majority of them focus more on maximizing profits neglecting the workforce that generates such funds.
This is among the many issues confronting the training of craftsmen as most construction firms hardly discuss about how to improve the manpower but on how they will exploit the workforce. Probably this contributes to the poor performance of the sector. As a result of this, there is now an extremely high shortage of these skilled construction workers in the Nigerian construction sector.
Suffice it to say that the concept of shortage of skilled craftsmen is not a shortage of workers but rather, a shortage of well trained, skilled, and productive workers available for certain jobs.
Some additional reasons attributed for such shortage are an aging workforce, and the construction industry that does not appeal to the younger generation.
An increasingly poor image over the last couple of decades has discouraged young people from seeing the construction industry as a viable career path. This is the most pressing issue in the nation’s construction sector; and is already having serious implications for both businesses and the economy generally. In view of these, there is an urgent need of up-skilling construction skilled craftsmen in order to address the issues of poor workmanship.
There is also the issue of poor funding and ineffective state of vocational education and training / retraining system in the country. Other bottle necks that have resulted to the dearth of skilled construction workers include; poor image associated with construction labour as work done by less intelligent people, lack of commitment on the path of the government towards skills training.
In addition the development, introduction of new technologies and materials requiring higher skills among others have been noted as possible causes.
Nigeria as a country undergoing economic reform needs a productive, competent, and flexible workforce to further her economic growth.