Construction sector in India faces a brick wall

Business National

The shortage of laborers in the construction sector is causing a toll on the industry’s profitability. 

Construction works are getting delayed and are happening at an increased cost due to a shortage of laborers in the construction sector. The labor shortage in the industry remains significant in the country and has not reduced post-COVID. 

K M Manjunatha, consulting civil and structural engineer, Karnataka Housing Board, said that the current demand-supply mismatch is taking a toll on the industry. “The costs are up by 15 percent and the projects are getting delayed by 20 percent of the estimated time because of the labor shortage,” he said. 

Workers prefer white-collar jobs, Manjunatha said. “Workers demand more mechanized jobs and are hesitant to do work manually,” he said. He added that it is also becoming difficult to get skilled laborers in the construction sector. 

Ashdaque Ali, safety manager of a construction project in Devagere said that his manager had no problem recruiting workers. “I am aware people are having trouble recruiting construction workers but we did not have any problem,” he said. 

The construction industry is the second largest employment generator for the economy. A Report shows that with a lack of proper safety measures, on average 38 fatalities take place per day. 

“The working conditions and the safety measures taken up at construction sites are not parred with the required standards,” Manjunatha said. He added that if measures are taken to improve the working environment, there would be a reduction in the labor shortage problem. 

A study shows that 85.7 percent of laborers agree that they have not been trained in accordance with job roles in their organization, and only around 10 percent of their organizations have training modules streamlined to the job requirement.

Ashdaque Ali said that his site follows all safety requirements as per the Building and Other Construction Workers (BCW) Act, 1996. He said although minor injuries have occurred at the site, there have been no workplace accidents since the start of the project in 2020. 

Moreover, women’s participation in the manufacturing sector is still limited despite increasing from eight percent to 12 percent from 2019 to 2021. Physical safety, infrastructural gaps, working hours, etc. pose a significant barrier to the advancement of female participation in the manufacturing industry. 

Kaibalyapati Mishra, a research fellow at the Indian Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru, thinks that slavery is still there but it is formalized in terms of official regulations. Though there are regulations in place, without proper implementation, these problems are still present. 

By improving the social and security measures that will make things more flexible for the construction markets, the labour shortage will reduce, said Mishra. “By employing these measures it gives a green signal for them to come and join the sector for more work,” he said.