Shortage of Artisans drives wages in the construction sector

Getting a qualified artisan who you can trust to build, plumb, paint and repair your house is surprisingly difficult forcing construction firms to rely on familiarity than quality.

Kenya’s artisanal sector is still plagued by insufficient formal training and apprenticeship which produces unreliable workforce even as the country experiences a construction boom.

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While this is bad for the sector the few who have obtained certified training are now able to bargain for higher pay which has pushed wages in the sector by over 90 percent.

A study by Construction Kenya found that daily dues for certified artisans had more than tripled to between Sh2,500 and Sh3,000 from Sh500 to Sh1,000 in 2012. Artisans operating in major towns charge more.

Official statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) also show that compensation for workers in the construction industry rose to Sh16.87 billion in 2016 from Sh8.84 billion in 2012 – representing a 90.8 percent upsurge.

Programmes like Garden City’s Youth Training Programme have recently increased the opportunity to learn on-site skills in masonry, plastering, painting, and plumbing, which all include training on construction health and safety.

Garden City yesterday announced an extension of 2016 Actis funded programme, opening it up to other organizations willing to support youth in acquiring vital technical skills for the local construction sector.

“We first piloted the programme for our residential construction phases and then extended to our Business Park construction site. And now, in addition to taking on 100 trainees from our neighborhood and nearby for our first commercial office block, which is now leasing Grade A offices, we have further extended the scope of the program to upskill our existing workforce as well. This will mean we’re not only training more people, but we’re improving the level of skills we already have on site and creating further job opportunities within Garden City’s next construction phases. As apprentice laborers become skilled and qualified, this opens up a job for an apprentice below them, which in turn creates more opportunities for employment,” said Chris Coulson, MD of Garden City

According to the KNBS data, a total of 148, 022 contractors were involved in the building and construction sector, up from 106,114 in 2012 – a 34.49 percent growth.

Garden City’s artisanal training is delivered by partner Arc Skills, and all graduates from the programme receive an industry qualification recognized by the Nation Construction Authority (NCA), and National Industry Training Authority (NITA).

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