The housing shortage currently being experienced across Ireland is the result of a decade of underinvestment, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF ).
The CIF says this has been compounded by an infrastructure deficit and a market failure in finance for homebuilders. The federation says the situation at the moment is that house building outside of Dublin and Cork cannot attract finance at variable rates, so activity is and will continue to be permanently depressed.
"If house-building only occurs in urban areas over the next decade, this will fundamentally unbalance the country further. Dublin will continue to congest and regional economies will be undermined," says Tom Parlon, director general of the CIF.
"The severity of the construction recession saw numbers working in construction decline by almost 180,000 by Q1 2013 to just 35 per cent of the numbers employed at the peak in 2007. However, construction has recorded the fastest rate of employment growth in the period since, gaining 39,200 jobs at a rate of around 1,000 per month.
"A recent report by DKM commissioned by the CIF found that the Irish construction industry will require 112,000 additional workers up to 2020 to deliver the Government’s housing and infrastructure targets. This poses fundamental challenges to the industry and the State in developing skilled labour within the current education and training system.
"The industry will have to grow by 9 per cent on average per year up to 2020 to meet demand. This is a huge opportunity to develop a sustainable construction industry by putting in place a long-term growth strategy similar to those established with the food and financial services industries."
Mr Parlon says the price of inaction on this will amount to a continuing housing and homelessness crisis, the decline of rural Ireland, and a congested capital choking under the weight of producing almost 50 per cent of Irish GDP.