Crafts skills gaps in the construction industry in Zambia

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Kaoma, Chanda Charles
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University of Zambia
The construction industry in Zambia grew rapidly in the period between 2005 and 2015. The growth in infrastructure development resulted in a construction boom. The boom had catalysed increased demand for construction artisans. Hiring artisans with the right skills and experience has been an ongoing challenge. Contractors need skilled artisans to effectively deliver projects of high quality. A model that enhances effective artisan skills supply to the Zambian construction industry was developed after establishing factors that lead to skills shortages and how that contributes to construction defects and low productivity. Apprenticeship training was considered and evaluated as a mitigation pathway for construction crafts skills gaps. Interviews, questionnaire survey and three case studies were used to collect data. The study established skills shortages in Zambia’s construction sector. The identified crafts shortages were among tilers, shop fitters, air-conditioners technicians, and plasterers, building foremen, carpenters, painters, plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, steel fixers and steel fabricators. Identified causes of skills shortages included: lack of co-ordination between industry and trade schools, low number of trade schools, un-attractive conditions of service. The impact of skills shortages were poor workmanship, low efficiency and reduced effectiveness of industry workforce. Apprenticeship Skills Flow Chart Model (ASFM) was developed and apprenticeship has been recommended as a possible approach to alleviating skills shortages. The proposed model recommends duration of 2 years minimum for apprenticeship training where apprentices should learn 20 percent theory on important construction topics. The implementation of ASFM could lead to more quality artisan labour in the industry and better productivity improvements in project delivery. Future research should be extended to road construction and manufacturing industry of construction related materials.
Master of Engineering in Construction Management
Occupational training-Zambia , Apprenticeship training-Zambia