Construction workers are so scarce these days that developers are doing all they can to prevent their employees from being snatched by other operators to work on the government's planned megaprojects.
"Anyone planning to build a house should do it now. It's bad enough now that the construction industry faces a severe shortage of labour," said Chakporn Oonjitt, executive director of the Construction Institute of Thailand.
"But it's going to be even worse next year, when large companies are going to steal workers away to work on the government megaprojects."
He said even though megaprojects use heavy machinery such as backhoe loaders, this type of equipment requires people to operate it, and companies are hiding their workers.
"A backhoe driver is paid 100 baht an hour. Despite the high rate, employers have a hard time finding people to do the job," he said.
An industry source said many employers are not sending workers to training sessions, as they are afraid the skills upgrade will result in them being taken away by other companies.
"Some employers are even using tactics such as going to training sessions themselves as a way of headhunting," he said.
Mr Chakporn said large companies working on megaprojects could afford to pay workers a lot more. "About 400-450 baht a day is paid for workers who know what a nail and hammer is, while 700-800 baht is for skilled workers. But if you're a large company, you're going to pay them 20,000 to 30,000 baht a month," he said.
This year, the construction industry is set to face a shortage of 100,000 workers, about the same as last year.
Mr Chakporn forecasts the value of the industry will increase by 8% to 8.5% to 1 trillion baht this year.
Last year, investment in the sector totalled 927 billion baht, with the amount divided equally into government and private projects.
The figures do not take into account the government's 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investment or the 350-billion-baht water management scheme.
Mr Chakporn said the price index of construction materials will inch up this year due mainly to higher cement prices, but oversupply of steel will prevent the index from getting too high.
"Compared with other Southeast Asian countries, Thailand has relatively low construction costs since we can source most building materials," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter