Builders warn of skills shortage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 1997, 12:00am

HONG KONG will face a shortage of skilled construction workers from next year unless the Government continues with its labour importation scheme, an industry lobby group says.

The Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) said between 5,000 and 7,000 experienced foreign tradesmen would be needed to make up for the shortfall in skilled local labour.

The association is urging the Government to carry on with the labour importation scheme officials set up for the airport core programme but to shift the emphasis of the scheme to the housing sector.

It had been assumed the controversial import programme would end with the completion of the airport and airport railway next year.

The association, however, believes the territory's long-term housing programme will create an acute need for foreign labour well into the next century.

Association vice-president David Gem said the group was lobbying the Government to rename the airport scheme as a housing labour importation programme or to ensure it became specific to the construction industry.

This would make the scheme easier to administer, while imposing tough controls on the employment of foreign workers.

Unionists have criticised the imported labour scheme, because they believe it discriminates against local workers.