• Friday, July 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘Dearth of professionals offers younger generation opportunities in construction industry’

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The dearth of specialised professionals in the building and construction industry in Nigeria provides a pool of opportunities for the country’s younger generation, Ibikunle Ogunbayo, a consulting engineer, has said.

Ogunbayo, who is the chairman, KOA Consult and former president, Association of Consulting Engineers in Nigeria (ACEN), disclosed that there were currently not enough consulting engineers in the country, saying it was an area that young professionals could explore.

In his keynote address at a business luncheon for the unveiling of the top 100 Nigeria’s development professionals in Lagos recently, the former ACEN president said that despite the limitations that had slowed down its growth, Nigeria’s housing sector also offered opportunities that could catalyse growth in the nation’s economy.

According to him, the opportunities in the sector could be measured against the over 16 million housing deficit in the country, explaining that the deficit harboured jobs and income-generating opportunities if attempts were made to bridge the gap through massive construction activities.

“In an attempt to reduce the housing deficit, we can grow the economy by employing workers of all cadres at construction sites and this translates into making resources available for spend by these workers,” he explained.

Ebenezer Osoba, also an engineer, shared this view, adding that “no country can flourish without an efficient construction industry because of its significant effect on any economy”.

Highlighting the challenges in the construction sector which had inhibited exploitation of these opportunities, Ogunbayo emphasised that lack of adequate professionals had, to a large extent, slowed the sector’s growth as available skills under-estimated the sector’s demand.

He also fingered under-funding of available building technical colleges as a major reason why the schools had continued to churn out relatively incompetent graduates that could hardly meet the current demands of the building profession.

Relating some of the challenges to poor policy issues on the part of government, Ogunbayo frowned at the inability of government to provide infrastructure in some virgin areas of the country to drive urbanisation, but rather waiting for areas to urbanise before delivering infrastructure.

“Infrastructure should drive urbanisation and not the other way round as we have in Nigeria today,” he said, adding that for developing areas, government should provide commensurate amenities to meet the needs of the dwellers.

ODINAKA MBONU