The function of skilled trades/ construction in Myanmar is to provide the “front of line work” and to be on the ground. Whether it be a civil engineering project, a building site or even working with a an architect on a small home renovation, there is a need for skilled tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and carpenters. Adding to this there is a need for construction workers, and depending on the project their roles will be different. In all cases the skilled traders/ construction workers will report to the site engineer who is the middle man between the project manager, other professionals in the engineering/ technical function (depending on the project).
The function of skilled trades/ construction workers will vary greatly on both their specific trade, and the project that they are working on. For example, a plumber working on the construction of new condominiums for the real estate/ property development industry in Yangon will have a very different role to a construction worker who is part of an infrastructure project (for example a tunnel or a road) in Shan State. But in the cases of both skilled trades/ construction there are certain aspects which helps one excel at the job. Firstly, a certain level of physical fitness in required as there may be heights to be scaled, weather conditions to tolerate, and work that requires muscle such as digging, living or sawing. Secondly, an ability to follow instructions is vital. All skilled trades/ construction workers are part of a bigger team, working within a certain timeframe and within a budget, so following these instructions helps the project run smoothly.
Working in the skilled trades/ construction can be a demanding occupation because of the extreme conditions, and whilst it can have long hours, it can also be flexible as it is project work. This flexibility is not only time wise but location wise, as there are projects throughout the country.
Myanmar was closed off for a very long time, and now is experiencing a period of massive growth. Now that the country is accessible and foreign investment is permitted, there are an abundance of projects underway which have a need for skilled trades/ construction workers. For example in the many states such as Taninthayi Region much work is required on the roads as they need to be constructed or resurfaced. Hospitality/ tourism is becoming a very large industry, and there is much that needs to be done to meet the demand in many states (for example the building of hotels in beach resorts such as Ngwe Saung, located in the Ayeyawady Division).
To become a skilled trade worker requires an apprenticeship and the best experience is then gained on the job. Once a skilled trader has built up a reputation, they can find themselves in high demand, meaning their income is higher. They may also find themselves working on a regular basis with other professionals that they have established a relationship with, for example an interior designer doing a renovation may always want to use the same carpenter as they appreciate their results and ability to work to a deadline, within a budget and provide accurate results. Similarly, an electrician may find themselves working on a projects large and small with an electrical engineer. That is why a good skilled tradesman also needs to have good communication skills.
To become a construction worker does not require formal education, but it does require a level of fitness. A construction worker may start with very menial labour, but as they gain experience will also gain more responsibility. They may aim to working their way up to a safety officer which could lead to an administrative function. A construction worker who enjoys the work may also work towards a management role such as a site engineer. They may also undertake an apprenticeship in order to pursue a skilled trade.
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