SA construction industry will have to double outpuut to meet demand

SA construction industry will have to double output to meet demand

The construction industry will have to double its current output of R100-billion a year in order to match public- and private-sector growth targets, Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza said at this year’s construction conference, held in Durban at the end of October.But she added that the development of skilled workers, especially artisans and foremen, needs to accompany expenditure growth in the construction industry.Rodney Milford, of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), said that the overall growth in the construction industry was likely to be between 10% and 20% a year in the short term, and that the industry would need 25 000 additional qualified artisans by 2010.“The industry will be able to deliver up to 2010, but it will be a challenge,” said Milford. “Many are talking about working longer hours.” Key issues identified at the conference that need to be tackled to ensure sufficient skilled labour in the construction industry include increasing the number, and quality, of mathematics and science graduates from schools, ensuring that tertiary institutions provide accredited training relevant to the industry, removing barriers for people to get workplace experience, and the need for contractor development, tutoring and mentoring within the industry.“Growing investment is creating increasing employment in the construction sector, rising by 22% in 2005 and by almost 7% in the three months to March 2006,” said Didiza.The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition, in consultation with the CIDB and government, is looking at short-term measures to source qualified people to work in the industry, including the impor-tation of highly qualified people from overseas, bringing people out of retirement and encouraging relevant training and development.“Only 65% of engineering students complete their four-year tertiary training within a six-year period,” said the National Business Initi-ative’s Fisher, who added that a comparable international figure was 90% in four years. “And of those who do graduate, only 50% end up registering as professional engineers.” Fisher also noted a decline in artisan training. “Between 1985 and 2004, there was a significant fall-off in the number of registered apprenticeships,” he said. Fisher said that a number of potential industry employees had received training from tertiary instit- utions that did not offer accredited or relevant training, adding that there was likely to be a pool of semi-qualified people who would only need top-up training before being able to be employed in the industry. Key issues going forward would be planning, coordination and communication, he added.

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