Foreign construction firms recruiting workers in Fiji threatens local companies to the brink of closure and will inevitably increase building costs, a prominent local contractor says.
Vijay Raghwan, president of the Fiji Masters Builders Association, said with increased global competition for tradespeople, there was an even greater need to retain quality staff.
Mr Raghwan was reacting to a New Zealand labour hire firm advertising to recruit 1,000 workers from Fiji to work on major constructions projects across Auckland.
“In Fiji, the poaching of workers is a common thing and because of this the cost goes up,” he said.
“If a contractor loses a key worker and brings in a replacement from abroad, pays for his flight and accommodation, he will add it all to the cost – it is a vicious cycle.”
This is the fifth time the NZ firm has turned to Fiji for recruitment, as the country experiences a major construction boom.
In a 2017 report, NZ’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment found demands for construction-related occupation will increase to at least the end of 2021.
This means employers will look to recruit skilled labour on a large-scale to satisfy the demands that outstrips the supply.
The Report says Auckland alone, with the highest construction workforce requirements in the country, will require 185,000 workers by 2021.
Mr Raghwan, who believes the local construction industry is already struggling to retain talented staff, faces a genuine threat from more powerful and better-resourced foreign competitors.
“We have already downsized,” he said.
“And this system will continue because globally we live in an economic bubble and this will remain an ongoing issue.”
A quick tour of the Suva and its outskirts, as well as Nadi, will clearly show there is a boom in Fiji.
Statistics released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics showed the value of homes had nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016.