In Rio de Janeiro, three bulky men, wearing nothing but shorts and sandals, hammer away at a wooden structure sprawled across the pavement, forcing pedestrians to walk around them.Despite the laid-back uniform, they are skilled labourers in Brazil’s construction industry, toiling into the night. There will be a lot more night shifts as their sector is beginning to need to develop outside the boundaries of daylight hours.
Even before the effects on the industry of Brazil’s victorious landing of the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, plus business from pre-salt oil exploration had time to kick in, activity had expanded rapidly.
It is quite likely that some of the workers on the street in Rio are new to construction. In 2005, there were 1.4m civil construction workers in the country.
At the end of 2009, there were 2.3m, and demand is set to increase. Despite wages rising above inflation rates, construction companies are having a hard time finding workers to facilitate the country’s expansion.
“Most of the companies are complaining about labour constraints,” says Marcelo Motta, an analyst at JP Morgan.
This is causing companies to begin to upgrade to more capital-intensive, and less labour-intensive, building methods, especially in housing construction, says Mr Motta.
One example is “aluminium mold” technology, which fits buildings together like Lego blocks, rather than laying bricks the old-fashioned way.
Though slightly more expensive, the technique has been proven in Mexico, says Mr Motta. Such a change could reduce the gap between the launch and delivery of a housing unit from the current two years to six months.
A recent report from the National Industry Confederation (CNI) and the Brazilian Chamber for the Construction Industry (CBIC), identifies another big problem as the lack of space in urban centres.
There are worse difficulties to be had than fast rises in demand that outstrip labour and spatial supply, as many construction companies around the world still reel from the collapse of housing prices.
Promising prospects in Brazil have sparked the interest of international investors, especially in the Middle East.
Rainer Bruderle, Germany’s minister for economics and technology, said recently German businesses were interested in bidding on projects for the World Cup and Olympic Games.
So just how far would you travel for a job?
There is demand out there for construction workers if you are willing to travel. To try something new.
You may just like it.
I have a couple of friends from past companies who are now expats and loving it. One is a farmer in Brazil, the other a ski/whitewater/fishing guide in Chili. Both say they wouldn’t trade it for a minute, and are glad they gave it a shot.
The farmer packed up his entire family from Colorado and moved, wife 2 kids, dogs.
They make slightly less than they did back in the States but the cost of living is quite a bit less. In the end they are living like royalty.
Instead of always wondering if you will have work next week would you be willing to pack up and make the move to someplace where they really need you?
Take a couple of minutes and look around, you may find a place in need of you even closer than you think. Your skills and programs will work anywhere. Look at most any takeoff estimating software you can easily set your preferred measurement. Inches, meter, your choice.
All that is needed is for you or somebody like you who is willing to take a chance and strike it big.