The current challenge faced by the Construction Sector in India is not Covid19. The worldwide pandemic of 2020 has created gaps and obstructions in almost every existing business. All sectors of the company have had to drastically change their working methodology and workforce. In fact, if one would stop to think for a second, the construction industry was severely impacted only during the lockdown. All other obstacles have workarounds that are being utilized effectively. Why then is India’s Construction sector not recovering from a 40-day hiatus? The reason is simple, and the worst part is this reason has existed long before Covid19.
The first problem is the severe lack of skilled labour. India has no certification for a day-wage labourer. If an individual has working arms and legs, they can qualify as a labourer. The lack of certification is silently applauded behind closed doors by the construction sector as this directly lowers the wages these labourers receive. Furthermore, there is no minimum cap for the wages these labourers receive. This makes manual labour cheap and cost-effective. With pathetic working conditions, low pay and zero job security the labourers can hardly be blamed for leaving construction sites and heading back to their hometowns. A severe lack of training programs hurts not only the labourer but the homeowner as well in the long run. The government has tried to fix this gap with the “Skill India” initiative that focuses on grass-roots training.
But initiatives and schemes are only as effective as the people they are implemented for. The construction sector provides little to no encouragement towards these initiatives because their profit margins will be affected. This kind of short-term cost cutting not only damages the final product but also damages the trust of the client and the reputation of the builder.
Another problem comes with the inability of contractors to embrace technology. Construction tech is not cheap and why invest in machines when people will get the job done for less than a third of the cost? The answer is simple, the tech is a big investment, but it is also a permanent one. It not only reduces costs in the long run but also ensures quality workmanship. A contractor might see the result as being a hole in their pocket for better quality, but the benefits are so much more than that.
The average labourer of today is underpaid, has no protection for his health and generally works in construction sites with unsafe conditions. Furthermore, they work with machines that increase their burden and at times even hurts them physically. A relatively small investment will provide long-term benefits that are sadly ignored in the name of a quick profit. Providing the labourers with the best in technology and welfare leads to a workforce which feels secure and thus is highly motivated. Add skilled labour and you have a formula for on-time deliveries, enhanced productivity, and improved margins.
Improved welfare and embracing technology is the way forward. Cutting corners and poor treatment of the workforce stagnates our progress every passing day.