The construction industry contributes significantly, in terms of scale and share, in the development process for both developed and developing countries. Construction products provide the necessary public infrastructure and private physical structures for many productive activities.
The industry is not only important for its finished products, but because it is a labour intensive industry employing a large number of people (directly and indirectly) thereby tremendously impacting on the economy of a country/region during and after the actual construction process.
However, inadequate skills and other inadequacies have led to low participation of local firms in the construction industry in Malawi. The discontinuation of the engineering diploma courses offered by the University of Malawi through the Polytechnic’s Board of Governors, led to a growing gap between graduate engineers and artisans.
The absence of village polytechnics for so long, until recently, also meant that aspiring labourers and skilled artisans at community level were denied opportunities to contribute to the labour market and their right to gainful employment. There has also been low participation by the youth in the technical fields of construction. Most youths with great potential have misdirected their energies resulting in involvement in self destructive behaviour. In other instances training has not incorporated practical experience.
The Malawi Government, realizing this problem and other similar challenges in the construction industry, launched the National Construction Industry Policy in June 2015. The policy details the direction and intent of the Government in facilitating infrastructure development in Malawi. The Policy aims at guiding the Construction Industry in ensuring an enabling environment for the development of a vibrant, efficient and sustainable local construction industry in line with Vision 2020.
The Policy provides a platform for the local construction industry to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities. It also aims to facilitate effective and active participation of the local industry in the development, maintenance and management of the physical Infrastructure. This Policy complements other efforts by Government to build capacity in the Malawian labour market through programs such as the opening of community technical colleges.
Community colleges are a major initiative by Government to increase the skills of artisans in the country by providing opportunity to out of school youths and those who are not able to proceed to tertiary institutions, to acquire skills to enable them get employment or go into self employment. It is pleasing to note that in the community colleges, so far inaugurated, construction related trades such as brick laying, wielding and fabrication and carpentry and joinery are on offer. This gives hope that the general public will in future access quality construction services at grassroots level.
The National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) is the lead implementer on the NCI policy. NCIC was established by an Act of parliament in 1996 (Cap 53:05 of the Laws of Malawi) to Regulate, Promote and Develop the Construction Industry in Malawi.
Armed with this policy, and with continued advice and support from Government and other stakeholders, the Council will promote skills and technology transfer through joint venture arrangements, establishment of strategic partnership with institutions of higher learning to promote research and development and teaching of relevant courses. The Council will also continue offering career guidance for the youth and uphold its 50% discount offer to female trainees for construction related courses which it conducts.
The Council fully supports the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose goals number 9 & 11 talks about ‘Building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation’ and ‘Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, respectively. This is cognizant that sustained investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic growth and development.
National Construction Industry Council realizes the critical role that the construction industry plays in translating development budgets in tangible development outcomes. The Council also realizes that behind all the infrastructure development projects are men and women who provide the labour force with impeccable dedication. This is why the Council identifies itself with the Labour Day and is committed to implementing the NCI Policy.
Happy Labour Day