An all-island Irish construction industry review, which was published today by AECOM, analyses the industry outlook and takes a long view to what will be required to sustain development into the coming decades to 2040
An industry survey was also carried out with senior professionals in the public and private sectors to gain insight into sentiment, what is driving and blocking development and to the challenges the industry will face into the future.
As well as developing a clearer picture on the outlook, AECOM presented a growth estimate of 20% for the Irish construction industry for 2019, totaling €24 billion. This is underpinned by the fact that over three-quarters of the industry surveyed stated that they felt positive about their own individual business outlook for 2019.
Director, AECOM in Ireland, John O’Regan said, “This year’s review unlocked a message of positivity and optimism within the construction industry in Ireland. That being said, areas of concern were highlighted such as the sustainability of our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) plan, how prepared companies felt to deal with looming talent shortage and our infrastructural resilience in the wake of increasing climate changes”.
“Success is not just attracting new FDI, it is also retaining it and continuing to adapt our infrastructure to ensure we meet future needs. Ireland has been tremendously effective in attracting FDI and many of these multinationals have committed to increasing their presence. However, whether it is technology firms in Dublin, pharmaceuticals in Cork or MedTech in Galway, companies tend to cluster in specific well-developed regions. Without strategic investment, these cities will become increasingly congested, uncompetitive and saturated in terms of resources. That is why greater foresight into our future infrastructure and housing requirements across cities and regional urban centres is crucial to ensure our continued economic growth and maintain our strong FDI pipeline.”
Looking at the current challenges, 40% of industry admitted that their inability to attract and keep talent is their biggest business concern. With a significant percentage of the skilled workforce still choosing to work abroad, the pressure is mounting to attract workers to the industry. For them to choose Ireland as their long-term base, greater certainty is needed in terms of wages, costs of living and the viability of the market. Fears are mounting amongst industry that, unless access to talent improves, there will not be enough employees to meet the demands, in particular the governments housing requirements.
In relation to specific jobs, respondents view engineering as the most crucial skill required to keep the industry moving forward over the next 10–20 years, however, worryingly, only 15 % of the sector feel they are fully prepared to deal with the challenge of sourcing talent now and into the future.
The report also indicated that Ireland’s transport networks and services are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Our strong economic and population growth brings congestion, pressure on our broadband, water supply, sewage treatment, raw materials supply and waste management, all of which require infrastructural responses. However, these challenges are now augmented by our changing environment and the new threats facing our buildings such as flooding, wind speeds and falling debris and even temperature changes. Industry understand this has the potential to test existing infrastructure and may require new, more resilient engineering designs in the coming decades.
“Our continued economic success and growth is inextricably linked to our approach to infrastructure. Considering Ireland’s requirement to provide housing, clean energy, broadband, better roads and public transport, how we move forward with infrastructure in the coming two decades will be critical to our viability and sustainability as one of the leading economies in Europe”.