Original Research

Skilled labour supply in the South African construction industry: The nexus between certification, quality of work output and shortages

Abimbola O. Windapo
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a750 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v14i1.750 | © 2016 Abimbola O. Windapo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2015 | Published: 10 June 2016

About the author(s)

Abimbola O. Windapo, Department of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Orientation: Construction human resource management.

Research purpose: The study examines the skilled labour supply in the South African construction industry and determines whether there is a relationship between trade certification, quality of work output and scarce labour skills.

Motivation for the study: The rationale for the investigation is based on the view of scholars that a skilled labour shortage is preponderant in the South African construction industry even though there is a high level of youth unemployment in South Africa and that the perceived skills shortage contributes to a decrease in productivity and product quality.

Research design, approach and method: The paper reviews relevant literature and employs a mixed method research approach in collecting empirical data from contracting companies within the Western Cape Province of South Africa that are listed on the Construction Industry Development Board contractor register.

Main findings: The study demonstrated that there is no shortage of manpower, but there is a shortage of qualified or skilled tradesmen, such as electricians, plumbers, welders, fitters and carpenters, whose professions are more technical and require formal training and certification. The level of supply of skilled tradesmen is attributed to the lack of high-quality basic education, the state of the economy, compulsory certification of tradesmen and an ageing workforce. It was also found that there is a significant relationship between skilled labour shortages and the requirement that labour be certified and that work output is unsatisfactory when there is no certification requirement.

Practical/managerial implications: Based on these findings, the study concludes that skilled labour shortages and poor work output quality continue to be experienced in the South African construction industry when workers are unable to obtain formal certification for informal work experience acquired through years of practice on construction sites.

Contribution: It is recommended that the South African government establish proactive strategies in the form of a framework for use in evaluating, certifying and grading the informal expertise acquired by workers through years of practice. This recommendation seeks to ensure that the supply of certified craftsmen capable of undertaking and producing high-quality construction work meets demand.

Keywords: Artisans; Education; Experience; Expertise; Practice


Artisans; Education; Experience; Expertise; Practice


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