A shortage of workers and materials threatens the construction industry

The construction market is currently facing a shortage of materials and workers. On Wednesday, at the Meeting of Leaders of the Czech Construction Industry at Prague Castle, developers and public administration representatives talked about current problems and future prospects.

According to the directors of construction companies, the construction industry is growing by 2.2% this year and should increase by 1.1% next year. Sales to construction companies are also up 2.2% this year and are expected to grow by 2.5% next year. They agree that this development is threatened by the rising cost of materials and labor.

“A jump in these prices, combined with rising interest rates on mortgages, may slow down the development of the construction industry in both the public and private sectors. The uncertainty of these prices, coupled with the energy supply crisis, makes any forecasts rather uncertain. Therefore, the state’s role is significant at this moment, “commented Robert Špalek, Chairman of the Czech Chamber of Chartered Engineers and Technicians in Construction.

Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09), Chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies, began the meeting by emphasizing that the construction market is affected by the pandemic situation and how the government will handle other challenges.

“We, as legislators, influence how successful you will be in your work. I want to promise you that we are aware that we should create the conditions for you to be able to deliver your projects in the best possible way, “she added.

She also spoke about the new construction law that the new government wants to amend and proclaimed that the new government and the House would continue improving and speeding up the construction process. Related to this is the issue of housing affordability, which she identified as another priority. She stressed that there would be an opportunity to draw substantial money from the EU fund. Other issues need to be addressed, such as the employment of people from third countries and the overall situation in the labor market.

According to more than half of the developers surveyed, the outcome of the parliamentary elections will only partially affect the Czech construction industry. The construction industry would be most helpful if the new government continued with the projects in progress. They also believe that the government should focus on the construction of affordable housing.

According to a study by CEEC Research, the rising cost of materials and the shortage of workers will make real estate up to 19% more expensive. The prices of materials went up, especially for steel, wood, plastics, and insulation materials, while interior furnishings have also risen.

Petr Gazdík (STAN), the likely future Minister of Education, cited the population curve as the main reason for the shortage of workers in the construction sector. The second reason, according to him, is the social situation, where apprenticeships are seen as something inferior. He urged construction companies to work with schools to educate their future employees.

Karel  Havlíček (ANO), the outgoing minister of transport and industry and trade, pointed out the high competition of technical schools. He also stated that the problem is that when young people want to study for a technical degree, they are mainly attracted by new technologies, but this cannot be applied to some students, for example, those learning masonry. He believes that a necessary step to address the situation could be introducing a technical subject in primary schools to motivate children to study technical fields further. 

Havlíček also commented that foreign workers, mainly from Ukraine, should be encouraged. “We need to simplify their employment. We need three or four months to employ them. It’s too long. It should be reduced to at least 1.5 months, “he said.