Construction challenges in India

Laxman Nebhwani


A shortage of skilled labour is a major problem for India’s construction industry. The shortage stems from a lack of a structured training programme focused on skills within the country’s education system.

This poses a challenge as the lack of the right labour at the right time for the right job results in low productivity. 

The government’s new initiative ‘Skill India’ is a first step towards providing grass-roots training focused on skills. However, the initiative needs a major push from the construction industry as it is essential to promote the culture of continuous learning and provide people with the required skills before deploying them on projects.

Poor labour productivity in the Indian construction industry is frequently mentioned but the root of the problem is never addressed. In a cost-sensitive market and many problems derive from short-term cost cutting. Less attention is paid to the long-term benefits that relatively small investment can bring, such as higher workplace productivity, timely delivery and improved margins.

Many factors limit productivity gains in construction. These include the ratio of contracted labour to in-house labour, shortages of skilled labour, contractor hesitance to embrace technology, poor labour welfare at the workplace, poor health and safety and the availability of the appropriate tools and equipment.

To address this, the industry needs a concerted multi-dimensional approach and swift action from contractors, clients and construction professionals. Indian construction companies need to move away from a low-cost labour mindset and embrace technology. Raising skill levels, properly equipping the workforce, providing improved welfare and ensuring greater safety on sites will motivate workers and empower them to raise productivity.

This needs to be reinforced by clients who see the long-term benefits of allowing contractors to include improved welfare and safe working site conditions for workers in their contract price.

At the same time, construction professionals should promote improved welfare for the workforce and ensure suitable provisions are included in contracts, so contractors do not cut corners and the benefits flow to the clients.


This content is part of the International construction market survey 2018

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