2nd December 2023 4:50 pm
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The future of the construction industry in South Africa

Written by Jose King, Outreach specialist, Awisee, on behalf of GetSmarter.

The global pandemic caused major issues for the construction industry in South Africa, and the knock-on effects are still being felt in this sector. Although the construction industry has recovered somewhat, the future outlook remains subdued in the short to medium term.

The latest data suggests that over the past three years, the construction industry in South Africa shrank by up to a quarter. The industry’s value went from approximately R140 billion in the second quarter of 2019 to R105 billion in the second quarter of 2022. This has been partly due to an unstable global market, increasing costs, and employee shortages.

However, it’s not all bad news for the South African construction industry. The government announced in 2021 that it would increase spending on infrastructure projects as the country looks to modernise over the next ten years. This means greater employment opportunities, especially for those in the construction sector.

Improving employment standards in construction

In recent years, there has been a shortage of skilled workers in construction. While the number of low-skilled workers is on the rise, fewer South African workers are being educated in construction, while more educated people are leaving to work overseas or are joining new industries. It’s important that education in construction is encouraged if the industry is to continue to develop and grow.

Thankfully, education is becoming more accessible than ever, with construction management courses online growing in popularity. These courses help students develop the practical skills to manage a variety of different construction projects. This includes modules on handling client relationships, analysing health and safety risks, and all areas of planning and coordinating successful projects. When attending an online course, students gain the full benefits of a university education while having more freedom over when they learn. If students have more flexibility, they have greater access to education and greater satisfaction with their courses.

Aside from ensuring proper access to education, it’s also important that steps are taken to inspire young people to develop their skills. Industry leaders can play their part, doing more to speak to younger people and helping to create the next generation of skilled workers. This can improve the motivation of young people to get into construction and engineering while also passing on crucial skills.

The growth of sustainable construction practices

Supply chain issues caused by the global pandemic have had a major impact on construction, increasing the cost of materials and leading to higher overall costs. In addition, the war in Ukraine and other factors have led to increasing global energy costs, which has also impacted the construction industry.

While the increasing energy and materials costs have caused issues, it’s also accelerated the move towards more sustainable construction practices. All over the world, sustainability is becoming a major issue, with the effects of climate change impacting people and businesses in different ways. The construction industry is a major contributor to environmental issues, consuming  significant energy and resources.

In South Africa, the construction industry can benefit from a shift towards more sustainable practices. This can include making use of green building materials and techniques. This has the added effect of also potentially reducing costs by moving away from traditional materials, which have increased in price.

By focusing on sustainable practices, the construction industry in South Africa can potentially reduce costs while also reducing the impact on the environment, helping to create a better future for the country. Designing buildings in a more ecological way can improve energy efficiency and lead to a healthier and more productive construction industry.

[Image – Shivendu Shukla on Unsplash]