The construction industry in the twenty-first century: Its image, employment prospects and skill requirements

The report was prepared for the 2001 ILO Tripartite Meeting on the Construction Industry. The main theme of the report is changing employment relationships and industrial structures in the construction industry and the impact of these changes on the quality of employment in the industry. The report reviews changes in the construction industry in the 1990s and considers directions for the future.

Chapter 1 sets the scene by examining the distribution of construction employment worldwide at the turn of the century and the characteristics of the construction workforce. Chapter 2 focuses on the employment relationship in construction, documenting and explaining the changes that have taken place in the past 30 years, and their impact upon the structure of the industry. It is shown that there has been a big shift to indirect employment as contractors outsource their labour requirements. This has been accompanied by a significant increase in the proportion of the workforce employed in small or very small firms. The implications of these changes upon collective bargaining, social security, safety and health, training and skill formation, are examined in Chapter 3. It is concluded that the trend towards labour contracting is unlikely to be dramatically reversed. The issues raised in the final chapter therefore relate to meeting skill requirements and increasing the quality of employment in an increasingly casualized industry.