Construction Week Newsletter 23rd April 2005l

Construction has never been a sexy industry. It’s the dusty overall-wearing poor relation of the more glamorous, urbane and pinstriped real estate sector.

  • E-Mail
By  Sean Cronin Published  April 23, 2005

Back to the drawing board: Addressing the UAE’s skills needs |~||~||~|Construction has never been a sexy industry. It’s the dusty overall-wearing poor relation of the more glamorous, urbane and pinstriped real estate sector. And the overalls don’t come any dustier than in the Middle East, which is why third level education establishments in the region are struggling to attract students onto construction courses despite a building boom which is everywhere to be seen. Tower cranes are the barometers of a buoyant economy and there are more of them here than anywhere else on the planet. They symbolise development, progress and confidence in the future, even if that confidence is sometimes misplaced or overstated. So why is it that nobody wants to become a site engineer these days? Despite all of the positive things a booming building industry evokes, most students are more likely to turn up for an 8am lecture than consider majoring in a construction-related subject of their own volition. A careers expert at Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology hits the nail on the head when he declares that the construction industry has an image problem. “They think they will be out there with a shovel, mixing cement,” he says. It seems to be a particular issue for women in what has long been a male-dominated industry. The Sharjah colleges recognise that in the absence of reliable government information on manpower demand in the UAE, it’s up to them to try to anticipate where that demand will come from. It may be too late to do much about addressing the current civil engineering needs of the industry in the UAE, which will continue to look overseas to fill site engineer and project manager positions. But there is time at least to think about what skills will be needed when the tower cranes have disappeared and the army of migrant construction workers has moved on or gone home. This is one of the reasons why the Sharjah colleges have formed a committee to look at the future skills needs of the UAE, and whether they have enough resources to cope with them. One of the areas they have identified is facilities management, which is a very good call. In the coming years the growth of the FM sector in the region will mirror that of construction, and it is good to see an educational establishment acting proactively to ensure that there will be some home grown skills available. It is also good to know that more women are opting for engineering courses, even if they are being attracted to the electrical rather than the civil variety. In the space of the year, the colleges have doubled their female electrical engineering intake, which bodes well for the future. It is a lead that other countries within the region which are a little further behind in the construction cycle, could do well to follow.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code