Urgent need to attract workers to construction

The construction sector must work to attract more than 112,000 workers into the industry up to 2020, to ensure that Ireland can deliver on its housing and infrastructure targets.

According to a report to by the Central Bank of Ireland, one in every two workers who lost their jobs in Ireland between 2007 and 2012 had previously been employed in construction.

However, while there has been a strong recovery in employment in other sectors, figure for construction employment in Q1 2017 was 46 per cent lower than in 2007.

The Central Bank of Ireland article from the second Quarterly Bulletin of 2018 - Where are Ireland’s Construction Workers? - by Thomas Conefrey and Tara McIndoe-Calder, claims that the construction industry has regained less than a third of all the jobs lost during the crisis, and suggests that a large proportion of construction workers who lost their jobs during the crash are likely to have emigrated.

The report also warns of an urgent requirement for a significant inflow of labour into construction as demand continues to increase.

Tom Parlon, director general of the CIF, said: “The recent announcement of the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan is a potential game-changer for the Irish economy and society. The construction industry will be front and centre in its delivery. However, construction companies face significant challenges in translating this into the much-needed housing, world-class infrastructure and the sorts of specialist buildings that underpin Ireland’s attractiveness for Foreign Direct Investment.”

Mr Parlon said the National Planning Framework’s ambition must be matched by investment in education and training systems so they can produce the employees that will deliver this construction activity.

“The quantum of investment announced by the Government means there will be ample work available for young people to build careers in a modern construction industry,” he continued. “A failure to attract people into the industry, both on-site and off-site, will see labour costs increase and eat away in the available capital for investment in vital infrastructure.

“A key priority for industry and Government now must be to reinvigorate the apprenticeship system and communicate to school-goers, parents, and career guidance counsellors the benefits of a career in construction. We also see the diaspora as a rich source of skilled labour that we need to tap into over the coming years to help us meet Ireland’s demand for construction activity.

“Over 50,000 jobs have been created in the construction industry since the lowest point of the recession in 2013. This growth in construction jobs over the last five years is a testament to the strong pipeline of work in Ireland over the next 15 to 20 years.”

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