Construction Sector Threatened by Lack of Skilled Labour

Total Croatia News

The number of workers in the sector has been halved in the past several years.

According to the statistics of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the construction sector is finally out of the deep crisis which started in 2008. The growth of the volume of construction activity that was recorded last year culminated in December when the total construction activity and all its components grew solidly compared to the previous month and December 2015, reports on March 2, 2017.

“In December last year, compared to the previous month, there was the growth of volume indices of construction works by around three percent, with the works on the buildings increasing by 3.6 percent, and works on other buildings by 3.1 percent. At the same time, in relation to December 2015, we recorded growth of volume of construction works by 8.9 percent. It was not only the highest year-on-year increase in the volume of construction works in the past year, but also its highest growth since December 2008”, reported the Croatian Chamber of Economy.

Mirko Habijanec, CEO of construction giant Radnik from Križevci, agreed that the situation regarding the volume of construction works was improving, but he also warned that it was just one side of the coin. It is necessary to point out a series of negative things that are still happening. “The volume of work is growing, both in the private sector and in public investments financed from EU funds. But, we have less and less skilled workers, there are inadequate labour regulations, poor education system which does not produce what we need in terms of staff, and finally there are the salaries that discourage people to work in construction, at least in Croatia”, said Habijanec.

He added that it was certain that, when the building boom stars, and there are indications that it will, there will be no workers available to do these jobs because all those who want and know how to work have mostly gone abroad.

“The labour force in construction has been halved in the past seven to eight years, and there are almost no young workers joining the workforce. In Germany, the construction sectors contributes to GDP with 10 percent, while in Croatia, in the prime period of road and housing construction in mid-2000s, it reached only 8.5 percent. Currently, the share does not reach five percent. When I mentioned Germany for comparison, in that country, which is 20 times larger than Croatia, the construction sector brings about 110 billion euros of value a year, about 50 times more than in Croatia, where the value is around 2.5 billion”, said Habijanec.

Nikola Funda, owner of the energy upgrade company Funda from Zaprešić, agrees that the sector has improved in the last few years. “The growth is not great, but it does exist. This is perhaps a consequence of the fact that we are involved in the energy upgrade business, which is still developing and we are growing with it”, explained Funda.

On the other hand, Dragutin Kamenski, director of Kamgrad construction company, said that the real sector had so far not noticed any increase in the volume of construction works. “The situation is like in the past years, not very good. Maybe there are more projects being launched and more building permits being issued, so the effects will be seen later this year, but so far I have not noticed any significant improvement”, concluded Kamenski.


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