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Irish construction sector may fail to meet demand

New report explores problems facing the Irish industry
Image: Dreamstime
Image: Dreamstime

When covid restrictions end and building is finally allowed to recommence, Irish construction may not be ready to meet the pent-up demand. This is one of the themes explored in a new report entitled Job Quality in the Irish Construction Sector, produced by TASC, the Think-tank for Action on Social Change, in partnership with the CIOB.

The report points to the sector’s boom and bust cycle as a root cause of many of the problems it faces in areas including productivity, labour shortages and job stability. This, it suggests, could have serious implications for Ireland’s house and infrastructural building strategies – leading to increases in house prices and delays in provision in other areas.

Earnings in the Irish construction industry are, on average, good and construction is good for social mobility, according to the report. Pay is close to, but still below, the national average – putting Ireland slightly above most other EU countries.

The reputation for cyclicality in the construction industry in Ireland is holding back the sector and its output”

Joseph Kilroy, Ireland policy and public affairs manager, CIOB

However, there are significant variations between occupational groups. Professionals like engineers, architects and directors are, as a group, very well paid in Ireland while less-skilled manual workers are paid below EU norms.

The report also finds that solo self-employment remains a significant issue, accounting for one in five construction workers, double the rate of the rest of the economy.

“The reputation for cyclicality in the construction industry in Ireland is holding back the sector and its output,” said Joseph Kilroy, Ireland policy and public affairs manager with the CIOB.

“Historically career guidance counsellors have been reluctant to send students into the sector due to its unpredictability, leading to a shortage in professional and craft skills and a lack of diversity in the sector,” he explained.

“Compare this with countries like Germany, for example, where there is positive emphasis on the value of trades and practical work. We have to tackle job quality and stability if we want the sector to be able to deliver on future demands.”

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