Recruitment of workers needs radical change

A UK recruitment agency is aiming to transform the way construction labourers are hired from the sub-continent to work in the UAE.

A UK recruitment agency is aiming to transform the way construction labourers are hired from the sub-continent to work in the UAE.

Alex Walker and Marcus Hackney are directors of Dynamic Positions, which sources labour for the construction, oil and gas industries.

On visits to the UAE, they were shocked by the current system of employing workers from the sub-continent.

Traditionally, workers are recruited by agents, who promise them jobs but make them pay a large fee up-front before gaining employment in the UAE.

Many workers have no formal training, which not only means projects take longer to complete but it also leads to an increase in on-site accidents.

Dynamic Positions is now targeting the UAE with the aim of creating a more ethically sound way of finding workers to carry out construction projects in the region.

The company aims to source labour from Nepal, where it is setting up a training academy in Kathmandu to teach the necessary skills for the construction industry.

The academy, which could train up to 20,000 people a year, could be operating by the end of 2008.

The Nepalese workers will not be charged for their training as the costs will be covered by the construction companies.

Walker said: "Many people have been very positive about our ideas as they are not happy with the way the construction recruitment process is working.

"Things have to change. The plight of construction workers in the region has been getting so much negative publicity recently that many international companies are going to think twice about investing in the city.

"But because project managers and agents are all making a good living out of the system, unless the government intervenes, the exploitation will continue."

So far, Dynamic Positions has signed a contract with the Kier group, while other big-name firms have expressed an interest.

Walker added the company chose to set up its academy in Nepal because, unlike India, its economy is weak and there is high unemployment.

"We want to get the situation where there is zero-tolerance of accidents on construction sites in the UAE," said Hackney.

Walker added: "We aim to provide a first-class workforce that has been properly trained.

"This will mean that projects will be finished faster; there will be far fewer accidents; and generally a happier, more productive workforce."

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