Ireland's Lost Generation of Construction Workers - Construction Network Ireland - Construction Network Ireland

Back to News

Next Article

Published in Construction on 12/04/2018

Ireland’s Lost Generation of Construction Workers


CNI Editor reports

The construction sector must work to attract over 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, due to be published today, 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% 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, considers the decline in construction sector employment in Ireland during the economic and financial crisis that began in 2008.

The article 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, CIF said The CIF has repeatedly flagged the urgency for attracting new employees into the industry as well as encouraging those who may have left, to return to working in the Irish industry.

In 2016, EY/DKM consultants and SOLAS predicted that the industry would need 112,000 additional employees up to 2020 to meet the demands of Government strategies in housing and infrastructure. Since then the ESRI’s estimate of the level of housing output required has increased by 30 per cent to 35,000 new houses per year.

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 FDI.

The NPF’s ambition must be matched by investment in our 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. A failure to attract people into the industry, both onsite and offsite, 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 15-20 years.”