Builders skeptical about employing refugees

Refugees can be employed in the construction sector in Latvia only if they possess the necessary skillset, Normunds Grinbergs, the president of the Latvian Association of Builders (LBA), told BNS on Tuesday.

Grinbergs said that there are already many unqualified construction workers in Latvia, thus the association objects to employing more people without any experience or skills, despite that nothing is yet known about the refugees who'll arrive to Latvia.

"We object to this way of employing unqualified workforce. We need qualified workforce," he said.

When asked about whether people could be offered the necessary training to undertake the simpler tasks, Grinbergs denied this possibility.

"Qualification is issued by professional educational institutions accredited by the state.

If a person has not obtained qualification, no courses or training can give him the necessary skills to make him a qualified worker at a construction site," Grinbergs said.

While Martins Straume, the president of the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers (LBS), told BNS that even local builders are without work in winter, therefore refugees might be employed only starting from spring.

"Many construction companies will not have work in winter, but in spring, after training in work and occupational safety, they might be employed in concrete works, for example," he said.

Straume noted that development of the construction sector at present is not such that all local builders have work to do. "We see in procurements that people do not have work, they do not have construction sites," said Straume.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said that asylum seekers arriving in Latvia would have to work 'from day one', and that the Interior Ministry had talked with various companies about providing workplaces to refugees. Laimdota Straujuma exclusively named the building industry as an area where possibilities are being discussed.

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