THE Government must introduce more training courses for construction workers to overcome a worsening shortage of qualified personnel, a training executive said yesterday. Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) chairman Chan Ka-kui said the dearth of skilled staff was hitting every sector of the construction industry, despite rising unemployment levels. 'The entire industry is understaffed mainly due to the airport projects,' he said. Mr Chan was speaking after the authority launched a survey carried out by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, showing a 15 per cent shortfall in the number of technical staff. Technicians work as on-site middle management and include foremen and site supervisors. The authority is planning to make a special plea for government help through the Construction Advisory Board, following publication of the report. There are 19,111 technicians employed in the construction industry, although the survey said 33 per cent were under-qualified and needed more training. There were 2,844 vacancies, but they were often not filled because candidates did not have the correct skills. 'It is very difficult to match the vocation of those unemployed with the current level of vacancies,' Mr Chan said. The labour importation scheme had eased the most serious shortages, but was only a stop-gap measure. The Government needed to expand its job retraining and job matching services to cope with demand, otherwise the construction industry would be stifled. Mr Chan said the most serious gaps were in the training of technicians for jobs in safety and the installation of building services including air-conditioning, plumbing and lighting. The industry employed about 140 safety technicians, but had vacancies for a further 87. Mr Chan said the situation was expected to worsen following recent changes in the labour laws which insisted shipyards and construction sites should employ a safety officer for every 100 workers employed on site.