By James A. Loyola
Socialized housing developers urged government to take action as they warn of possible project delays on the back of the growing shortage of skilled laborers in the country as more of them opt to work overseas.
Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) National President Marcelino C. Mendoza said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) should offer a training program related to housing developers and contractors.
“We should look at the model of Germany where there is emphasis in trades and apprenticeships even in high school and pre-college, hence they are immediately absorbed in the labor force,” Mendoza said.
He pointed out the difficulty in hiring results in project delays, the increased asking prices, and poaching of skilled workers are already prevailing in the industry.
Wages for plumbers and steel men have already increased 25 percent, while that for welders, painters, carpenters, masons, and electricians rose 22 percent.
However, TESDA Director Angelina Carreon said most of the TESDA trainings are in the services sector like the hotel and restaurant business and only 10 percent of the number of trainees are in the construction industry.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed unemployment rate in the country eased to a decade-low of 5.5 percent in April.
On the other hand, data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed while there are 2.3 million workers looking for jobs as of June, not all of them are qualified.
“There is an immediate need for training for these individuals seeking employment for them to be qualified for the available jobs in the market,” Mendoza said.
For one, the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure build up under the “Build, Build, Build” program would need two million additional workers until 2022.
Mendoza said compounding this problem is the mismatch between the available labor and the skills required by the construction industry.
He added skilled construction workers, particularly welders, steel men, plumbers, tinsmiths, always consider jobs with three to five times percent premiums overseas.
According to him, the socialized housing sector could not afford additional costs and compete with their counterparts in the condominiums, offices, hotels, resorts and commercial retail construction that offer high value contract prices because of the price cap of P480,000 for a 24-square meter house.
EEI Corporate Senior Vice President Norman Macapagal said there is a lot of pressure on existing skilled workers in the country to consider overseas jobs due to huge demand particularly in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.