China Coal Mine Construction Group wins ¥450m Nepal project
China Coal Mine Construction Group Corporation (CCMC) recently won the bid for the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation Mugling-Pokhara Highway Improvement Project in Nepal, in a contract valued around ¥450 million.
Marking the group's first overseas highway project, the total length of the asphalt concrete highway is 38.883kms, with a design speed of 60 kilometers per hour and a maximum slope of 7 percent.
The existing highway, aided by China in 1967, is a 7-meter-wide, double-lane asphalt road, passing through steep mountains, river valleys and plains, and spans 28 rivers. This project is expected to widen the highway to four lanes, with an aim to promote the development of local transportation and tourism.
In recent years, thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, CCMC has expanded its overseas market and explored energy facility construction, successfully winning a batch of projects in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, Uzbekistan and Turkey. The photo shows the Gezidun interchange overpass of the Hefei-Anqing expressway constructed by CCMC.
Other Asian countries are also busy pursuing construction opportunities. Malaysia-listed Bina Puri Holdings has secured a contract worth Nepalese Rupee NR5.2billion (RM183 million) for the New Construction Project of Supreme Court Building Complex at Ramshahpath, Kathmandu.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis, founding partner and chairman of Dezan Shira and Associates, an Asia focused foreign investment consultancy, recently published a guide, Identifying Opportunities Within the Belt & Road Initiative, which discusses various investor opportunities.
The 142-page guide includes a breakdown of the legal, tax and financial structures comprising the BRI, adding in operational pitfalls and costs, as well as the latest opportunity developments and case studies. It provides country and continental case studies on the extent of the BRI and showcases where and how foreign investors may capitalise on infrastructure developments.
However Australia-China trade relations are under strain again this month after Australia cancelled two Belt and Road Initiative deals, reportedly for being "inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations" (click here).
While the Chinese economy may appear to be rebounding - reportedly growing 4.9 percent between July and September - its Belt and Road Initiative projects have been adversely affected by the worldwide disruption, according to a GlobalData report, published last November (click here).
The pandemic is causing a slowdown in BRI investments, postponements in project timelines, and in some cases, suspension or even cancellation of projects in Africa and Asia due to local government spending curbs. The Chinese government has also been curtailing investments in BRI projects owing to domestic financial constraints amidst growing debt problems.
According to its Department of Roads, Nepal built an additional 7,500 miles of new paved, gravel, or dirt roads in 2017 and 2018. The road-building boom is being funded by international development agencies, the Nepalese government, and particularly China.
Apprenticeships can bridge skills gap says Autodesk director
The UK construction industry needs 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet rising demand, according to the Construction Skills Network published by CITB.
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated it needs to attract 400,000 new recruits each year to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs.
But given one in three current construction employees are over 50 there is predicted to be a 20-25% decline in the available workforce over the next decade. And with end of the free movement of people from the EU, it has further limited access to skilled talent.
Mike Pettinella, Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions EMEA, believes the solution may be one that is hardly new, but might have taken a back seat during the pandemic.
"Apprenticeships could help us bridge the construction skills gap and meet this rapidly rising demand, and attract a new crop of younger talent to the industry," he said.
"Apprenticeships benefit everyone. For candidates, it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills without incurring thousands of pounds of student debts. For employers, it’s a chance to train up employees in the competencies that are really needed – combining technical knowledge with collaboration and team work, which are equally important as you enter a new industry. And if you’re a larger company and already required to pay the apprenticeship levy, it makes sense to ensure you’re benefitting from the scheme too."
Marshall Construction recently took on nine new apprenticeships covering various roles. "Some of our previous apprentices have left and started their own businesses, which sets them up for life," said Chairman Robert Marshall. "Most of our current managers came from organic growth within the business whom we have trained to our own standards." Firms such as Barnwood Construction and Keepmoat Homes are also advertising and supporting apprenticeships.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the future shape of work will be profound. Modelling by the McKinsey Global Institute on the effects of technology adoption on the UK workforce shows that up to 10 million people, or around 30 percent of all UK workers, may need to transition between occupations or skill levels by 2030.