Blue-collar Skilled Worker Shortage in Construction Industry
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Published: Fri, 09 Feb 2018
Malaysia is presently experiencing a new era of prosperity. The government formulated and implemented a series of development plans and laid foundation for the development in the country. There is rapid growth especially in construction sector. This bought high demand in construction labour. According to (The Star Online, 22 December 2007), Year 2007 number of reports have highlighted the outflow of construction professional and skilled labour segments of the jobs market. Many skilled workers in the construction sector have moved to Vietnam, Singapore or the Middle East in pursuit of better pay and career prospects.
The shortage of skilled labour that the Malaysian construction industry is currently encountering has been perpetuated by several combinations of causes. Government’s act to diminish the number of foreign workers in the country will trigger the skilled labour shortage problem get in to even worse situation. (The Star, 3 June 2010)
1.3 Problem Statement
When we talk about labour crisis in construction industry, number is not only issue impinging on the manpower development of the industry. Due to certain reasons, local workforce is less interested to work in the construction industry. This phenomena may bought huge impacts to the development of the industry. Local workforce is still thinking that the jobs in this sector are not dignified enough besides being labeled dirty, dangerous and difficult. Therefore as a last result to overcome the acute shortage of manpower, the industry hired foreign workers. The group of foreign workers hired by the industry basically unskilled, acquires their work knowledge while assisting the more experienced workers, and thus is not meeting the industry’s skill standards. Malaysia construction sector should encouraged to plan their human resource requirements to progressively reduce their dependence on low- skilled labour, particularly foreign unskilled labour.
1.4 Research Aim
To analyze different type causes and effects of construction Blue-Collar skilled worker shortage to construction industry.
(1) To identify the causes of Blue-Collar skilled labour shortage in Malaysian construction industry.
(2) To identify the effect of Blue-Collar skilled labour shortage in Malaysian construction industry.
(3) To assess solutions to Blue-Collar skills labour shortages in the Malaysian construction industry.
1.6 Background of the study
Blue color Skill labour shortages are a common problem across construction industry. Skill shortages are most common in times of strong economic growth and low unemployment. The causes of skill shortages are complex. There are many drivers that could be causing a shortage in a region or occupation. Working conditions and wages play an important role in skill shortages. In occupations where there are poor conditions or wages, the problem may not be in the supply of labour, but rather in the willingness of labour to take up positions. Skilled labour shortage bought a lot effects and impacts neither to construction industry nor society. Thus, it is important that to find out the effective ways to chops with skilled labour shortage to avoid this phenomena further affect the economic growth.
1.7 Scope of study
The study of this study is narrowed down to simplify the process of information gathering, so it can be analyzed within an appropriate time limit. The aspects being considered are:
Focused on cause and effect of Blue- Color skilled labour shortage at construction industry.
Focused any solution which able to cope with Blue- Color skilled labours shortage.
The area of this study is in Malaysian construction industry only.
1.8 Research Methodology
Stage1: Literature research
A comprehensive review of the relevant literature including a computer- assisted search will be undertaken in order to develop an understanding of previous work in the field of human resource.
Stage 2: pilot study
An initial pilot study will be conducted to test the validity of the questionnaire through in- depth interviews with construction’s company.
Stage 3: main survey questionnaire
The feedback from the pilot study should assist in finalizing the questionnaire and prepare the ground for the main survey. The question will centre on the areas mentioned in the above objectives.
Stage 4: analyzing the postal questionnaire
This stage will bring together and review the information collected.
Malaysia Construction facing talented outflow? The Star Online, [internet] 22 December 2007. Available at:
Right in the view of builder? The Star Online, [internet] 3 June 2010 Available at: http://archives.thestar.com.my/last365days/default.aspx?query=foreign+worker [ Accessed 17 Jun 2010]
Chapter 2: Definition of Skilled Labour Shortage in Construction Industry
2.1 Definition of Skilled Labour
As stated under PEMBINAAN MALAYSIA ACT 1994 Section 2 of ACT 520,
‘A skilled construction worker means a person possessing theaccepted level of skill, as determined by the Board, of one ormore trades as listed in ThirdSchedule. The accreditation of a person as a skilled construction worker is through conferment of ‘Sijil Kecekapan Kemahiran (SKK)’ for local or ‘Perakuan Kecekapan Pekerja Asing Binaan (PKPA)’ for foreign construction workers.
In the more rigidly constructed definition, skilled workers could possess technical or artistic certificates, A.A. degrees, or training up to the bachelor’s degree level. Skilled workers are contrasted with unskilled workers or labor â€” unskilled labor doesn’t necessarily lack a skill set. The main difference is that the skill set required is usually innate (like strength and endurance) or learned with minimal training. (Accessed http://www.wisegeek.com, June 5, 2010)
According to CIDB, skilled worker can be defined as personnel who are able to carry out his work according to the set specification based on the national industrial requirements and passed the fixed accreditation test. After successfully accredited (passing the practical skills test), then only CIDB will officially recognize him as a skilled personnel by issuing “CIDB Skill Competency Certificate” based on the line of work. (CIDB Malaysia, 2010)
2.2 Type of Skilled Workers
There is board range for the type of skilled worker in construction industry. According to the PEMBINAAN MALAYSIA ACT 1994 [Section 2 and Subsection 32(2)], there are total 15 type of skilled work as shown in schedule 3. For this chapter only will focused on 10 type of skilled worker. There are Tiler, Bricklayer, Plasterer, Pavour, Plumber, Carpenter, Metal Worker, Construction Plant Operator, Painter, Concretor.
Tiler is responsible for laying hard tile and marble to floors, decks, and walls throughout any number of construction projects. There were also roof tiler who able to lay roof tiles on the roof frame. Tiler must have training to set their tiles properly the first time, qualified tiler able to ensure the lest risk the project run behind schedule. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
However, tilers are susceptible to a number of injuries. The constant straining and bending over a surface can lead to repetitive stress injuries, and heavy tiles can cause serious injuries if handled improperly. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
Bricklayers build walls, partitions, and other structures made of brick. They also work with concrete and cinder blocks, tile, marble, and terra cotta. Bricklayers can do both construction and maintenance work. To build a brick wall, bricklayers construct the corners of the wall first. Normally bricklayers will stretch string from one corner of the wall to the other to used as a guide so that they can build the wall straight. Bricklayers will put the mortar before put bricks in place. Many tools used by bricklayers. For example, trowels, brick hammers, chisels, levels, and rulers. General worker will assist the tiler to do the heavy work, such as carrying materials and mixing the mortar.
Plastering is one of the oldest and most respected construction skills. This ancient trade is responsible for applying stucco and plaster to building sites for insulation, support, and aesthetic purposes. (Cited from www.resource4constructionsiteaccidents.com)
Segmental pavers are responsible for cutting, placing, and arranging a variety of finished masonry such as brick and concrete in order to create paths, patios, driveways, and steps. They work in conjunction with other concrete professionals such as masons, finishers, and terrazzo workers to create the modern society that we so often take for granted. (Cited from www.resource4constructionsiteaccidents.com)
Plumbers design, install, repair and maintain piping systems such as soil, waste, vent, potable water, wastewater treatment, gas systems (medical, propane, and natural) in residential, commercial, industrial buildings and at utility sites. Plumbing tasks require the ability to assemble, install, maintain and repair pipes, fittings, fixtures, appurtenances, appliances of heating, water, storm and sanitary drainage systems according to specifications and plumbing codes. Plumbers install sanitary fixtures; such as, lavatories, toilets, bathtubs, bathroom accessories, showers, kitchen sinks and appliances, drinking fountains and laundry equipment. (Cited from www.resource4construction siteaccidents.com)
In construction industry, the job scope for Carpenters is construct, erect, install or repair structures, fittings or furniture made of wood; building frameworks including partitions, joists, struts and rafters; wood staircase, window and door frames; and hardwood floors using their skills and tools. They build wood framing for houses, roofs, stairs, decks and construct formwork to support concrete work such as footings, columns and stairs. Besides that, they also involves carpentry work to install cabinets, siding, drywall rails, building cabinets and counter tops and may include work on drywall, wood flooring, metal jambs and ceilings. Normally carpenters are skilled in exterior and interior finish work.
A different type of carpenters has different skills. Some of them are Cabinet Maker, Construction, Floor Coverer, Interior Systems, Millwright, Pile Driver. (Accessed to www.resource4construction siteaccidents.com)
2.2.7 Metal worker
The duty of metal workers in the construction is to maintain, and installs for variety of metal products including siding, signs, and ventilation equipment. This very specialized profession requires many years of training and experience, not only because worked metal must be very precise, but also the level of danger associated with working environment which use the powerful cutting and lifting equipment is higher than most other occupations. (Accessed http://www.resource4constructionsiteaccidents.com, 5 June 2010)
2.2.8 Construction Plant Operators
Construction equipment operators use machinery to shift construction materials, earth, and other heavy materials at construction sites. They operate equipment that clears and grades land to prepare it for construction of roads, buildings, and bridges. They use machines such as bulldozer to excavate trenches to place or repair sewer and other utilities, and use tower crane to hoist heavy construction materials. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
Besides that, Construction Plant Operators also help make adjustments, set up and inspect the equipment, perform some maintenance and minor repairs. Construction equipment is more technologically advanced than it was in the past. In technology advanced country such as Japan and United Kingdom, such skills worker will use global positioning system (GPS) technology to help with grading and leveling activities. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
Painters are often the last line of construction workers to finish a project before the tenants occupy the structure. The main duty of painter is to provide not only aesthetic considerations for a bare structure, but also enhance the natural shape of a building and provide additional protection from weather, wear and tear, and natural aging process.
These skilled workers must have knowledge of not only their crafts, but the appropriate amount of chemicals needed to finish it, how different surfaces need different materials, and finally a bit of creative touch to ensure everything proceeds smoothly. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
The duty of the concrete finishers is creating the smooth, unbroken appearance in concrete. Although the job seems to be very easy but in fact one that takes years to learn and many more to master it, and experienced concrete finishers are always a welcome sight on any construction project. (Accessed http://dwd.wisconsin.gov, 5 June 2010)
ACT 520 Third Schedule
Third Schedule [Section 2 and Subsection 32(2)]
Skilled Construction Workers No.
Skilled Construction Worker
Construction plant operator
( sources from PEMBINAAN MALAYSIA ACT 1994)
LAWS OF MALAYSIA ACT 520 LEMBAGA PEMBANGUNAN INDUSTRI PEMBINAAN MALAYSIA ACT 1994.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Department.2010 [ Online ] Available at: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov [Assessed 5 June 2010]
Type of Construction Workers http://www.resource4constructionsite accidents.com/topics/typesofconstructionworkers.html [Assessed 5 June 2010]
Chapter 3 Factor that cause skilled labour shortage in Construction industry
3.1 Cause of skilled labour shortage
The skilled labour shortage can be attributed not only to the economic boom, but also to the fact that people are choosing more academic type qualifications. (CIDB, 2003)As a result, many companies are now searching for skilled labour to meet their needs. The shortage of skilled labour can result from an increase in the demand for labour. (Liew, Wee Yee, 2005), this can be interpreted as demand is more than supply. There are several diverse factors have contributed to the construction industry’s shortages of skilled workers; these factors include local and young generation unwilling to join, wages problem, poor industry image, working environment and condition, government policy, economic factor.
3.1.1 Local and Young generation unwilling to join
In Malaysia, local youths would rather be unemployed despite working in the construction industry. This is attributed to the archaic employment practices, outdoor work and prevalence of the temporary and casual labour. (Saleh [email protected], 2008). Usually people will feel the construction workers lack superiority, class and respectability. Youngster is not willing to take over the manual techniques from their parent (skilled worker). This will leave to the skills gaps which will leave by old generation who are retirement. Youngster prefers work that is less strenuous with more comfortable working conditions. According to Ng Seing Liong, ‘Now that I sit on the CIDB, I know it is facing a lot of problems. It can’t find Malaysians to be trained in the wet trades, such as masonry, carpentry. In comparison, Indonesian workers are so easily available.’ The statement above meant for the local, it’s very difficult to find the Malaysian to do as a construction worker compared to foreign worker.
3.1.2 Wages problem
Working as construction worker, the wage is usually paid on daily basis. For example, if that construction worker unable to work that particular working day, will cause no income for that day. According to report for Average Daily Wage Rate of Construction Workers and Machine & Plant Operator January 2009, the wages for skilled worker will higher compared to unskilled worker and the scale of wage is also different from each state/ area in the Malaysia. Besides that, the poor paymaster (MBAM, 2007) also becomes the major issue in the Construction industry. Income is the major consideration for people to entry the industry. Issues as above mentioned will create a barrier for people choose to work in construction industry. Statement above can be proved by Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Datuk Ng Kee Lee, he had mentioned that the Act was vital to protect the interests of all players in the construction industry and the association had appealed to the Malaysia government to bring the Act into force.
3.1.3 Poor industry image
Construction industry usually related to 3D, which is dirty, dangerous and difficult. (CIDB, 2005) Local people are not willing to participate into the construction industry. In Malaysia, almost 90% of construction workers whether skilled or unskilled are foreign worker which come from neighboring countries. (CIDB, 2005) The irresponsible employer/ contractor which wish to save the construction cost will usually ignore the safety of workers by provided the worker with minimum insurance. Besides that, appeared of poor paymaster and a great of number of press which report the incident of site accident contributes to the skilled shortage issue. One of the issues of most concern to construction workers throughout the world is the insecurity of income that comes with temporary status. Providing adequate insurance against periods of sickness or unemployment as well as medical and retirement benefits is of critical importance in attracting and retaining workers in the industry (ILO, 2007). In conclusion, every construction party have to work out together to â€˜wash’ the image of construction industry.
3.1.4 Working environment and condition
Executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation said that Malaysian workers are not willing to work on a plantation or construction site because it is hard work under the sun. Many of the 26 millions Malaysian workers want white collar jobs (Bloomberg News, 2005). In Malaysia, tough working condition is also is the barrier for people to entry the industry. The construction industry is unique among industries. The activities of construction often take place outdoor risky conditions which not safety and healthy and extremely hot weather. Workers in the construction sites have to face persistent change in the nature of work, the location of work and the mix of workers. The nature of most accidents at construction recurrent and serious shows that the construction industry is unique. As buildings become higher and larger, the possibility of accidents to occur also increases. The danger posed to personal safety by construction work is one of the reasons why Malaysian is unwilling to take up careers in it. According to Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, an average of eighty workers was killed in such accidents. Inspection conducted by Department of Safety and Health (DOSH) found that one of the main contributory factors of accidents at construction sites was the lack of commitment by employers to implement measures to improve occupational safety and health. Construction sites rated as unsatisfactory were not managed in accordance to best practices. And most of the time, were not in compliance with the laws and regulations governing construction activities. Accidents at the construction site do not only involve workers, but may also inflict injury or even cause death to the general public. Such accidents had tarnished the image of construction industry. In conclusion, the poor working environment and condition is also contributed to the skilled labour shortage problem in Malaysia.
3.1.5 Government policy
The latest report revealed that there were approximately 1.9 million foreign workers in Malaysia. These foreign workers were dustribute across sectors such as manufacturing (39 %), construction (19 %), plantation (14 %), housemaids (12 %), services (10 %), remainder were in agriculture sector.(accessed to www.themalaysianinsider.com) From the figure above, we can know that 19% of 1.9 million foreign worker is work in construction industry. The government of Malaysia move to diminish the number of foreign workers in the country to 1.5 million by 2010 will even worsen the issues of construction skilled labour shortage as the local already less interested working as skilled worker in the construction industry. The policy will stop the potential construction skilled worker which can come to our country for working.
3.1.6 Economic Factor
The strong growth of the Malaysia economy prompt by the influx of investments, job opportunities have increased resulting in the easing of the unemployment rate. (Saleh [email protected], 2008) In construction industry, foreign investment had causes the supply of property increase; supply of property increase will also affect the construction skilled workers intensive. Skilled worker play an important roles in construction industry. Without them, construction industry will be affected, thus, it has now become an employee’s market and therefore, workers can afford to be choosy. Skilled worker’s wages will increase, then for employer which came from minor financial will not be able to hire skilled worker.
3.1.7 Change in Education
More recently, another change that has affected the inflow of new labour in construction industry is the educational change that has impacted younger generation. More people are seeking higher education in an effort to secure a more lucrative profession and consequently live a better life than their parents did. It appears that here, a stigma is being cast upon construction trades as dirty, dangerous and difficult. The term construction worker has negative impact for young people. Most commonly see the construction worker lacks prestige, class and respectability. It is projected that the proportion of the overall labour force with tertiary education to increase to 21.1 per cent in 2006 (20 percent in 2005) in line with the government.s concerted efforts at enhancing the quality of human capital in the country (Bernama, 2001).
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