The dark cloud over the Construction Industry
It is strongly perceived that the construction industry is a dangerous industry to get involved in due to the working environment. So often the issues raised range from safety, gender inequalities and corruption, to a political divide that is said to still exist between organisations in this industry.
To expand on the above, it is worth noting that even though the claims might hold water for a few incidents, it should not be a generalisation of the industry. Without a doubt, these issues will raise the alarm, and indeed they require all the attention and addressing thereof.
For as much as over two decades since the realisation of the new South Africa, this is the image that remains in the public domain with regards to the construction industry. It is a worrying factor to note that it makes it a less attractive industry to the youth of today who are expected to be the future architects of a better country. Moreover, it brings concern considering the importance of infrastructure to any country’s economy.
It is the bad image that continues to drag along with the industry throughout and does more to deter it than build it. Most have argued that the safety factor, as well as the corruption factor, come as a result of the lack in the enforcement of regulations within the industry. For instance, you cannot randomly wake up and open a law firm or a medical surgery because in those industries the rules and regulations are much stringent.
Where else retired teachers, as an example, can register a construction company without any valuable or prior experience nor qualification in the industry? In return, when that company acquires work and performs poorly, it deters not only the company but the industry as a whole. Moreover, the safety aspect of that scenario is even worse, considering that such companies come with a production mindset over the safety of own employees in most cases.
Forthcoming from such formulation is also the aspect of corruption. We have a scenario as the above and such companies still manage to get work. How is it possible? And what message does it send to those who can execute the work and have the right qualifications and experience?
Some share the sentiments that maybe our very own government fuel this kind of behaviour that eventually gives the industry a bad reputation. Their conclusions were drawn on the basis that certain government contracts specify that only local contractors must be hired for certain trades in the name of empowerment. Thus, the foundation rate of such companies continues to increase exponentially.
Lastly, the white elephant in the room when it comes to the construction industry is the issue of gender inequality. It has always been a perception of the masses that the construction industry is a men’s world. However, over the years, it has experienced an influx of females joining the industry. It is argued that even though more females are joining the industry, they do not enjoy the same level of respect as their male counterparts do. There are often complaints that females are not entrusted as much work and responsibilities, not to mention the various cases of harassment time and again.
These issues, among other various factors, form today the bad picture painted to the world about the industry. There is also an issue of the racial divide, whereby you may have the position, but not necessarily be entrusted with the powers and responsibilities that come with it. Or, in a different scenario, you may have all the skillset and deliver on the projected work, but not realise the recognition that is owed to you all because of such divides. But that is another topic for another time.