Good sub-contractors become hard to find

The UAE construction industry is facing a critical shortage of qualified and reliable sub-contractors due to too much work, tight deadlines and makeshift sub-contractors, according to industry experts.

Reliable sub-contractors are increasingly hard to employ as their order books are full.
Reliable sub-contractors are increasingly hard to employ as their order books are full.

The UAE construction industry is facing a critical shortage of qualified and reliable sub-contractors due to too much work, tight deadlines and makeshift sub-contractors, according to industry experts.

"The inability of sub-contractors to perform is becoming a very serious issue," said Thomas Barry, general manager and managing director, Arabtec Construction. "And because of the volume of work in the market, the biggest problem any of the main contractors have is securing sub-contractors of a sufficient standard to do the work. They're spreading themselves far too thin and projects are suffering in delivery and quality.

There are no more resources. You've got to limit yourself to what work you can do with the resources available."

This comes at a time when the industry is also facing a critical labour shortage with companies now looking towards new recruitment markets, such as China and Vietnam. "On a general level, finding good sub-contractors is very difficult because the market is overheated," said Bishoy Azmy, CEO, Al Shafar General Contracting. "We are fortunate, since our group of companies has its own in-house sub-contracting division, but for the jobs we have to sub-contract out, we face a lot of difficulty."

Another reason for the lack of good sub-contractors is due to most of them already having long-term commitments to main contractors and developers.

"There are some very good quality sub-contractors in Dubai; all of them work for us and everyone is busy," said Fred Durie, executive director, Emaar.

"We try to partner with those who work for us, and if we're happy with them we take them onto the next job."

The shortage of sub-contractors in the market has led to a surge in the number of new, smaller companies, each keen to cash-in on soaring demand.

Prakash Khatri, director of subcontracting MEP firm Transgulf, agreed that it is a problem but defends the authentic sub contractors by blaming the situation on the forces of demand and supply. "It's the new, small-time subcontractors that are the problem. The big ones are too busy with work and aren't able to take on any more at the moment - that is basically the root of the problem. It's a simple case of demand being way larger than supply."

Most popular

Awards

CW Oman Awards 2020: Meet the winners
A round of the thirteen winning names at the Construction Week Oman Awards 2020 that

Conferences

Leaders UAE 2020: Building a sustainable, 'resilient' infra
AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana's Imran Farooq on a sustainable built environment
CW In Focus | Inside the Leaders in KSA Awards 2019 in Riyadh
Meet the winners in all 10 categories and learn more about Vision 2030 in this

Latest Issue

Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020