03 November 2004

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FOBC bemoans lack of skilled workers

The Federation of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (FOBC) reports it has received a significant number of complaints from many of its members who can no longer cope with the severe shortage of labour supply in various trades which are vital to our local construction industry.
FOBC President Angelo Xuereb comments that the prevailing situation cannot continue, “There are no workers for various trades in the construction industry. We have tried everything, and we did so repeatedly, but not even the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) could alleviate the problem, which has now become chronic and is eating at the construction industry like a deadly disease.”
In a statement, the FOBC stresses, “The Federation attributes the current situation, which has persisted for a very long time, to the fact that the hardship traditionally associated with the construction industry is not attractive to our youths, even though the industry has come a long way in terms of new technologies and methods.
“The FOBC, the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC), ETC, and the Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology (MCAST) are all doing their part to train locals in skills for certain construction trades where manpower is in short supply. However the results of these efforts are still not sufficient to fill the lacuna in the various trades. Other developed countries have solved their labour supply shortages in the construction sector by importing the required manpower from abroad.”
FOBC explains it feels that it is high time that the Government accepts the fact that there is a severe discrepancy between the supply and demand of construction workers and should start issuing the necessary permits to foreign workers in this sector without delay. This would also serve to curb any possible abuses of having foreigners working illegally and doing away with paying taxes and social contributions while also creating other problems. The construction industry has been ailing for far too long and this shortage of labour calls for immediate attention.
“The construction industry is one of the main motors of the Maltese economy. It has many trades dependent on it and unless the industry finds the necessary workers, FOBC feels that we will soon be experiencing a slowing down in the industry itself while completion dates may not be maintained. These factors will definitely have a negative impact on the Maltese economy.
FOBC has been discussing this problem with the relevant authorities for a number of years, however without any concrete results. Action needs to be taken now.”

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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