Construction craftsmen: From a lack to a lakh
Successive governments have failed to address the dwindling numbers of masons and carpenters in Sri Lanka. However the recent appointment of a Cabinet Minister for Construction and Engineering Services is expected to reverse the decline.
Playing, as it does, the lead role in the training of construction craftsmen, the Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka (CCI) has an onerous responsibility. Dakshitha Talagodapitiya, CEO of CCI explained the situation to The Sunday Times FT: “To attain a GDP growth trajectory of 8%, an immediate enhancement of construction capacity is called for.”
The CCI has therefore entered into collaboration with Lyons-based Bioforce Development Institute, a French agency that offers training. The agency will impart experiential training in masonry and carpentry skills. This initiative is being facilitated by the French Red Cross and partly funded by Suntel, as a corporate social responsibility initiative.
Two training centres, in Galle and Matara, are already operational. The CCI intends to start the next one at Hambantota. ”We pay the trainees Rs 100 to 300 per day, as stipend, to learn,” says Talagodapitiya.
Even from the viewpoint of livelihood development, training of construction craftsmen is welcome. Training can be imparted to vulnerable sections, thus providing them with the opportunity for gainful employment in a relatively short time.
The CCI is also involved in training supervisory staff for the construction industry. This is in association with City & Guilds.
Speaking to The Sunday Times FT about his vision, the new Minister of Construction and Engineering Services, Dr Rajitha Senaratne says, “I would like one lakh people to be trained for the local as well as foreign market in two to three years.” He also envisages that workers and contractors be registered, so that their welfare could be looked after.