Around 2,000 craftspeople are needed in the labour market to fulfil promises on housing construction, RÚV reports. Approximately 700 students will be denied a place in Reykjavík’s Technical College, Iceland’s largest vocational training institution. The Federation of Icelandic Industries and the Federation of Skilled Construction & Industrial Workers challenge authorities to take charge of the issue.
Most municipality coalition agreements following the recent municipal elections emphasise the importance of increasing construction. 3500-4,000 apartments need to be constructed per year to keep up with the population increase. This year, that number will be less than 3,000. Chief Economist with the Federation of Icelandic Industries Ingólfur Bender told RÚV that around 2,000 skilled craftsmen are needed to meet the building requirements.
“At the same time as there’s a shortage of skilled workers, we’re turning people away who want to start their vocational training. Last year around 700 were turned away, and it looks like that number will be even higher this year. This is very bad. The problem is not within the educational system because they have every intention to do better. What’s lacking is that the authorities divert funds to the system,” stated Ingólfur.
The Federation of Skilled Construction & Industrial Workers Chair Hilmar Harðarson agrees, stating: “this is a common problem of all craft unions that we need more seats in the training programmes. We need to build a new Technical College and maybe even another school yet in the Capital Area. Of course, we hope that Icelandic Craftsmen will construct all these new apartments. It’s hard to see that happening as the situation is now. It is becoming harder to get craftsmen from Poland and other countries, so we’re seeking staff in locations that we’re less familiar with. We’re producing half the craftspeople compared to other European countries.” Hilmar stated that elementary school students have priority when it comes to places in the schools. When asked if older students were less likely to get a seat in the vocational training programs, he replied: “Yes, most of the 700 people who were turned away from the Technical College last year were older students.”