The construction industry is the second largest industry in India after agriculture. It contributes significantly to the national economy and generates a lot of job opportunities. The products of the construction industry form investments or capital goods. Hence the construction section plays a significant role in output generation and employment.
Using new technologies and deploying new project management strategies has made it possible to undertake large-scale projects. Even though the industry is well developed in terms of providing job opportunities and contributing to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), there are still some issues that the construction industry hasn’t been able to solve or has been solved. Still, they cannot implement the plan due to the lack of funding available to them. Such challenges include disaster-resilient construction, affordable housing, water management, and mass transportation.
Building and civil engineering are two broad categories of the construction industry. Building refers to projects that involve houses, offices, shops, hospitals, nuclear power plants, etc. Civil engineering applies to all other built structures like roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, canals, etc.
Liberalisation of the Indian economy helped in the inflow of foreign and domestic investment into infrastructure projects employment in the construction sector touched million by the year and continues to grow. The construction industry, being labour-intensive, demands both skilled and unskilled labour. In the past years, there wasn’t enough skilled labor available to be employed, in the construction industry.
However that isn’t the case anymore. Technical institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Technology (IITs and Nits) were set up through funding by the government. It enabled more people to get educated in the technical fields at an affordable fee, bridging the gap between the availability of skilled and unskilled labour. Due to the promotion of technical education by the governments, even private institutions started coming up, thus increasing the number of intakes per year. This meant that more graduates would pass out every year in the country. This was helpful for an economy like India, which had a high demand for skilled labour.
The number of graduates per year gradually increased, but the number of job opportunities available remained the same. This led to the saturation of the construction industry, which further led to many educated individuals remaining unemployed for a long time, even after graduation. Since the Indian economy could not absorb all the graduates into the construction industry, people who didn’t get job opportunities started migrating to foreign countries in search of better job opportunities with better remuneration. This further proved fatal to the Indian economy, which is still developing, leading to a brain drain.
Even if there are enough job opportunities available, it’s common knowledge that several construction industry individuals are underpaid for their work. Moreover, in specific scenarios, there is a vast disparity between the salaries of a male and female doing the same job.
People working in the construction industry, especially those constantly in the field, are exposed to several kinds of risk. For this kind of work, just remuneration isn’t enough. Each worker needs to be insured by the company that employs them, which would guarantee better payment than just paying them. It must be compulsory for every company to offer their employees Life Insurance during the contract signing. A few of the risks faced by the construction industry workers are
- Physical hazards and mechanical injuries and outcomes include exposure to noise and vibration, extreme heat or cold, work in windy, rainy, snowy, or foggy weather, non-ionising ultraviolet radiation, usually from exposure to the sun, and electric arc welding.
- Chemical hazards include dust, fume, mists, vapours, and gases. The most significant risk to the construction workforce is Silicosis and asbestosis.
- Ergonomic issues and degenerative disorders
- Biological hazards and Environmental diseases; Workers are at risk of malaria, dengue, animal attacks, histoplasmosis (a lung infection caused by a common soil fungus), and other diseases due to poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water.
- Psycho-social hazards: Employment is permanently temporary, frequently changing employers and most projects require living in work camps away from one’s home and family. There are no recreational facilities, a lack of access to education for children, poor sanitary facilities, and a lack of safe drinking water. These features of construction work, as well as heavy workload, the possibility of workplace violence or community violence, and limited social support, are associated with increased stress in the workforce. The associated addictions to alcohol, tobacco, and smoking contribute to illness and suffering.
Like any other industry, the construction industry faced huge losses during the lockdown periods. Currently, it is still recovering from the gaps that were caused due to Covid lockdowns. The construction industry will continue to grow and expand over the years to come.
Better measures need to be in place to ensure that the available skilled and unskilled labour is put to maximum use, so they can contribute to the Indian economy and, therefore, directly to the nation’s GDP.
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