The property development and construction industry faces significant uncertainty in obtaining a competent and skilled workforce. The construction industry makes up 7% of the world labour force, with over 100 million construction workers in the global labour market. Nigeria’s construction industry accounts for 9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the country requires at least one million artisans yearly to match the existing shortfall.
Nigeria’s population is growing, with a housing deficit of 20 million that needs to be addressed in the next 20 years. Quality construction requires a highly skilled workforce, including apprentices, general duty workers, middle level and artisanal levels. However, Nigeria has often engaged in using artisans from neighbouring countries, who can deliver quality projects. Lagos has the most active construction site with an estimated 48,000 ongoing projects requiring over 15,000 artisans, while the nation requires about 1.5 million artisans per year, which are currently imported.
Contractors and developers rely on foreign artisans from Togo, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cameroon to work on housing projects. Nigeria’s unemployment rate is estimated to hit 41% this year. Builders say the dearth of skilled artisans and technicians has always been the bane of the construction industry. The Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), Dr. Samson Opaluwah, said the dearth of artisans in the industry was due to structural failure in the nation’s educational system.
Builders also lamented that the collapse of technical education has made it difficult to grow the numbers needed to sustain the industry. Local artisans must be considered in projects, as taxpayers. The Association of Building Artisans of Nigeria (ASBAN) plans to prepare a blueprint to encourage local artisans by giving them jobs. Nigerian engineers and architects should use local artisans rather than foreign artisans, who charge lower fees for their services. The taste for foreign products is driving the construction industry, and Nigeria must learn to reduce its flair for imported products.