The shortage of workers in South Korea’s construction industry is deepening, and it has pushed the industry to request the government to allow in more foreign workers. The industry is now discussing with the government easing regulations on visa rules in order to hire more foreign construction workers to overcome this serious shortage. We hope that the new Korean Administration considers foreigners a necessary and important part of the Korean economy.
These proposals from the Korean Construction Industry come as more young South Koreans are not interested in manual labour and opt for white-collar jobs.
The Korea Specialty Contractors Association (KOSCA) had recently contacted the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport for easier regulations in importing labour from abroad. Further discussions also involved the Construction Association of Korea and the Construction and Economic Research Institute of Korea.
According to a Korea Times report, KOSCA asked the ministry to increase or eliminate existing quotas on foreign construction workers who were holding E-9 or H-2 visas. The Association also proposed giving leniency to employers who were barred from hiring foreign workers for up to three years due to their use of illegal migrant labour.
A survey by the Construction Workers Mutual Aid Association of Korea showed that the number of South Korean workers at construction sites stood at 1.53 million last year, although the industry needed about 1.75 million workers. A ruling party parliamentarian, Mr. Kweon Seong-dong, had also said last month that foreign workers should be allowed in as soon as possible to solve the labour shortage in the country’s construction industry.
Late last year, KOSCA had already submitted a similar request to the Korean Office for Government Policy Coordination and the parliament’s Environment & Labour Committee, as well as the land ministry. However, the problem persists as the Labor Ministry did not include the construction industry as among the sectors that will be supplied with a large number of foreign workers.
The Ministry had announced earlier this month that additional foreign workers would be sent to shipyards, factories, farms, public transport operations, and small restaurants and stores, but left out the construction industry.
The Ministry explained that this was because local builders had not completed hiring the annual quota of 2,400 foreign workers. According to the Korea Times report, industry officials stated that most builders are currently prohibited from hiring foreign labour because they have hired illegals in the past.
We are looking forward to a quick resolution to this matter.
by Sarah Khan
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