Abaco skilled labour shortage drives up construction costs

Abaco skilled labour shortage drives up construction costs
Abaco Chamber of Commerce president Ken Hutton

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The lack of qualified labour on Abaco has driven construction costs up 100 percent or more, according to the island’s chamber of commerce president, who also expressed concern that some of the work being carried out may not be ‘up to standard’.

Ken Hutton was speaking as a panelist at a virtual job fair for Abaco on Saturday.

He said: “There is definitely a lack of qualified labour in the reconstruction efforts we are having here. Right now one of the biggest problems we have is the lack of qualified labour and as a result of that the cost of reconstruction is going up and up.

“Prior to the storm Abaco had a pretty high cost of construction at $350-$400 per square foot. I think that is now easily close to $800 per square foot primarily because of the lack of labor. The qualified contractors here are booked solid for a year and a half two years.”

Hutton said: “Anyone with a hammer right now is calling themselves a contractor. The thing that is most concerning is that people are getting work done and it may not be work that necessarily is up to standard.

According to Hutton, the return of many second home owners seeking to have their properties rebuilt is also putting a strain on available labour.

“Second home owners were starting to come back to build their properties and that has placed additional pressure on the local labour market,” he continued.

“They want their homes fixed and are willing to pay whatever it costs. In many cases it is causing local contractors  to go for the higher tickets and leaving locals waiting behind. There is nothing but opportunities for local contractors here for a minimum of three to five years.

“The biggest issue right now is accommodations because of the widespread deconstruction on Abaco. There aren’t much places to live right now,” said Hutton.