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Wanted: Skilled workers for the construction sector

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Many of Cambodia’s skilled construction workers are employed in Thailand and other countries, causing a shortage locally. KT/Chor Sokunthea

In 2017, the employment rate in the construction sector rose about 40 percent on average across the country compared with 2016, however industry insiders are concerned over the shortage of skilled labour in the sector.

The construction sector has employed about 255,000 to 260,000 people on average per day across the country, an increase of about 40 percent compared with the 180,000 to 185,000 people on average per day in 2016.

However, in the capital alone, the construction sector has employed about 135,000 people per day on average, according to the annual report from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

The report also said that unskilled workers earned a monthly wage of between $260 and $300, while skilled workers earned up to $560 per month.

Engineers and architects earned between $400 and $2,500 per month, it said.

Touch Samnang, the deputy director of the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC), told Khmer Times that there are many construction projects in Cambodia. However, he said that finding skilled workers in the construction sector was a challenge for each construction project.

“We are finding it difficult to find skilled workers in construction, therefore, in order to attract skilled construction workers, we have to challenge other construction projects by offering more incentives and good conditions,” Mr Samnang said.

“Unskilled worker could earn about $6 per day and $15 per day for skilled construction workers,” Mr Samnang said.

Hoem Seiha, the research director of VTrust Appraisal Co, Ltd, said that due to the rising number of projects in the construction sector in the kingdom, the demand for labour needed both unskilled and skilled workers and construction engineers.

He added that Cambodia could easily find the unskilled workers to supply the sector, but skilled workers were hard to find.

“We have not touched on any research on the shortage of labour in the construction sector and we have no figures on this, but we see the trend of a lack of skilled workers in construction,” Mr Seiha added.

He said that as some countries such as South Korea, Malaysia and particularly Thailand are attracting labour from Cambodia, there is a concern about the lack of workers in the construction sector.

“We are not much concerned about the unskilled workers to supply the sector, but we are afraid there are not enough skilled workers,” he added.

Mr Seiha said that the overall property market was great, bolstered mostly by the housing market, especially the low-rise landed housing market and development projects that offer low-price housing units, which were more common in 2017.

According to the report, the combined value of approved construction projects in 2017 reached $6.42 billion, an increase of 22.31 percent compared with $5.25 billion in 2016.

Across the country, 3,052 new construction projects, equaling 10.74 million square metres, broke ground. Moreover, the ministry granted construction licenses to 275 companies, which was a decline compared with last year, when 334 licenses were issued, the report said.

It said that from 2000 to 2017, the ministry issued construction permits for 39,903 projects, which amounted to investment capital of $37.77 billion.

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