Business worries labor shortage

Published January 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


Shortage of skilled labor in the country has become worrisome with some projects in the construction sector already experiencing delays while the full-blast implementation of government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) projects could further tighten availability of manpower, according to businessmen.

Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), confirmed to reporters at the recent “Pandesal Forum” that the shortage in qualified labor is already affecting the construction sector. Strong demand for workers in this sector is not only happening in Metro Manila but in the other big cities as well.

“Construction of my resort in Cebu is already delayed for three months,” said Lim adding that his manager recruited 120 workers for the project but only 20 showed up.

He lamented that most machine operators have gone abroad as companies try to poach each other’s labor pool.

Alegria “Bing” Limjoco, newly-elected chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), corroborated Lim’s statement that indeed, labor shortage is happening in the construction sector.

Limjoco, however, clarified that the shortage is actually on the supply of qualified and skilled labor and not on labor supply per se.

There are an estimated two million new work entrants annually, but most of them are not trained to work in the construction sector nor prepared for other jobs currently in demand by industries.

“We just have to train them with the right skills,” said Limjoco stressing that the last thing the country would like to happen is for foreign-owned projects to bring in their construction workers.

While the business community and even analysts agree to a seven percent to 7.5 percent GDP growth this year, University of the Philippines Prof. Alex Magno said at the same forum that the only constraint to growth is shortage of workers.

Another political analyst Ramon Casiple doubted if there is enough supply of qualified and skilled labor to support the government’s huge infrastructure build-up, which is gaining momentum as the Duterte administration has only two years left in office to finish his projects.

Casiple urged to attract the skilled overseas Filipino workers back into the country and accelerate the upskilling of the young workers.

Limjoco said that PCCI is working with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the dual tech education and on the job immersion programs in partnership with Germany’s TVET program.

For its part, Lim said that FFCCCII has also donated a building for TESDA to accommodate more trainees. They also send Chinese teachers to facilitate easier communication with the Chinese investors.