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NEDA-Davao calls for expansion of construction labor pool amid slowdown

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DAVAO CITY — A worker shortage slowed the growth of the construction industry in the Davao Region to 18.1% in 2018 from 37.9% the previous year, regional economic planners said, citing Philippine Statistics Authority data.

Maria Lourdes D. Lim, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said last week at a news conference that the lack of construction workers has been noted across the region, with both government and private sector projects suffering delays due to the shortage of skilled manpower.

Ms. Lim said although the problem “is not that big” yet, skills training programs have to be stepped up even as she recognized ongoing initiatives by both the public and private sectors.

She said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority should conduct “more capacity-building” activities in key areas of the region to “increase the number of construction workers.”

About two years ago, the Department of Labor and Employment flagged the need for more construction workers to meet the demand for private and public projects.

Several major road projects are being undertaken or lined up in the Davao Region under the government’s Build, Build, Build program, along with the planned phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway System.

Ms. Lim said the construction workers pool should be built up, focusing on local manpower, to sustain the momentum in Davao’ economic growth.

“Priority should be given to local workers in the region,” she said. — Carmelito Q. Francisco

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